Review: Head First WordPress

Published Nov 23, 2010 (13 years ago)
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I’m a seasoned web developer that has been working a little bit with WordPress over the past 6 months. I’ve read books in the “Head First” series before, so when I discovered that there was a WordPress edition, I grabbed it without hesitation. Head First WordPress by Jeff Siarto (HWP) provides an excellent introduction into the WordPress environment.

The book is structured to teach you how WordPress works while simultaneously having you build a couple of fictional WordPress sites. As you’re reading, numerous tips, facts, and humorous asides are annotated throughout the book. This is what makes “Head First” an excellent series of books. It engages your mind while teaching you “tech” things that can be boring to a lot of people. HWP demonstrates how WordPress can be used for a simple content site, such as a business, or for a magazine/journal type site, which has frequent posts by various authors. While HWP doesn’t go too deep with any particular topic, it does make sure to touch the wide variety of concepts involved with a WordPress site: installation, theming, metadata (categories and tags), creating/editing pages, plugins, users, securing your blog, and more. By the end of the book you will have a good grasp on what WordPress can do for you, a working site that you can work with to customize as you see fit, as well as some additional topics to look into for further study (listed in the “Leftovers” appendix).

While the entire book is geared towards those that have basic web hosting experience, I found the first chapter might be a little intimidating to those users. The chapter outlines a full WordPress install, including FTP transfers, file permissions, and database setups. If you have the “quick install” option available, I suggest you use it. Otherwise, take the time and work through the install, since after that the rest of the book is a lot easier by comparison.

I also want to point out that chapter 5, involving videos and plugins, was my favorite chapter. It did a fantastic job and explaining how plugins and embedded videos work in a WordPress site. The chapter also involved a little bit of customization to the site to easily embed videos and to clean up your home page so that the entire post is not displayed. The author did a great job of explaining these concepts in an easy to understand manner.

Head First Wordpress is an excellent book and I highly recommend it to anybody looking to get involved with this popular platform. You can view a preview of the book by going to the O’Reilly site at