If you want to be able to take a hands-on approach to your WordPress website and you don’t currently have a book on the subject, you should buy WordPress For All : How To Create A Website For Business Or Personal Use, Quickly & Easily – Whatever Your Skill Level by Chris O’Connor. If you have a basic book from last year, it will be outdated by now, so you should buy this book anyway, because O’Connor promises to keep it up to date. Since it is a Kindle book (read it on your phone or computer if you don’t own a Kindle), he can actually do this.
The book is a very knowledgeable guide to all the basics of WordPress, from figuring out WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org to installing WordPress to configuring all those Settings. You don’t need to think about those things if we or another web firm is building your website, but you might still like to understand what’s going on.
Now we naturally have a difference of opinion when it comes to custom WordPress sites. “You could of course go down the custom development route,” O’Connor says. “You can then end up with a theme that looks exactly like what you want.” He goes on to say that since he is not artistic, he can’t give a designer any direction anyway, and might just as well pick a ready made theme off the shelf. That’s not actually how it works. Really, your designer will talk with you about what you want and create a website for you. You don’t have to be “artistic.”
O’Connor expresses further concerns:
- Will you have to pay for future support? Well, yes, and you actually would have to pay for any significant support for your free or premium off the shelf theme, too. We’ve just fixed a hacking problem for free for a company whose site we built, but we’re under no obligation to do so, any more than the manufacturer of your car has to fix that broken tail light. Nor will Elegant Themes or Woo Themes take care of that for you. Websites require upkeep and maintenance. WordPress lets you do some of that yourself, but you should budget for some, too, just as you should budget for visits to the mechanic and new tires even if you can change your own oil.
- “And who do you choose to do your custom design? There are plenty of people who can create custom themes, but how do you know if they’re any good?” Again, you have the same question with off the shelf themes. If you can’t tell that whether a custom designer builds good websites, you can’t tell whether a theme shop builds good themes. Look at the company’s portfolio, meet or talk with them, and hire someone you trust. What you can’t tell about premium themes is how easy it will be for you to make them do what you want. In our extensive experience, most business owners can’t customize a theme the way they want, and find it frustrating to try.
O’Connor goes on to discuss how to use Headway and Builder, as well as the less common Artisteer. He offers an example site that he built, and it looks about the way you’d expect. If you are building a website for a hobby or a personal blog, you should go right ahead and do it yourself. You can enjoy the learning experience and end up with something you can feel proud of. I’m all about DIY in my private life, and I quite like my off-the-shelf private blog.
If you’re building a website for a business… well, it’s a business decision. Can you create the effect you want to create for your customers? If not, hire someone.
Either way, once you have your website built, you’ll want to know how to add posts, how to update information, how to change out pictures, how to keep your site secure from hacking, and so forth. O’Connor tells you all these things.
Depending on your particular theme, widgets, and plugins, some things might be a bit different from what’s in this book, but overall it’s a very good explanation of how to do all the things you might want to do if you are your own webmaster. If you’re trying to decide whether or not you want to be your own webmaster, this is a useful book to read through. You’ll know what you need to do or have done, whether it’s the best use of your time, and what you want to hire someone to do.
The book is written in a friendly, conversational style, and is very thorough but doesn’t require any technical knowledge to read. It does give you instructions, though — there’s none of that, “Have your developer do this for you” air. It’s not for designers or developers, but it is for business owners. There are many sensible points on how to keep the user experience positive, how to reduce cart abandonment, and other business issues. I can see this book being the ideal go-to for people who want to get started with an affiliate site or to do a little kitchen-table ecommerce. It is also certainly a good choice if you’re thinking of having a WordPress website made and want to know more about what goes on in the back end before you make decisions.
I received a copy of this book for review. I was not paid for this review, and you know I always tell you the truth.