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on February 13, 2012
Let me preface this review by stating that I have worked in web-based tech support for 11 years, I have been coding HTML since I was a teenager, and I have maintained an extensive personal website since 1998.

I am absolutely dumbfounded that some editor allowed this book through to the printer. This book should ONLY be considered reference material for someone who already knows ALL the material in the book. I have been working with WordPress in its simple blog format for several years, I've read several books on WordPress basics, and after reading this book all the way through 3 times cover-to-cover, I still can't interpret 90% of the content.

The book is altogether lacking in EXAMPLES. The author THINKS she is providing examples, and perhaps in her advanced mind, she is. For for a "DUMMIE" reading this book, her examples completely fail on most levels.

FOR EXAMPLE...In Chapter 12 (to which I randomly opened...every page of this book is completely lacking in practical examples), page 207 she says "WordPress lets you create categories and assign posts to a specific category (or multiple categories)... The /<?php wp_list_categories(); ?>/ template tag lets you display a list of your categories by using the available parameters and values. (Table 12-4 shows some of the most popular parameters)." She follows the table with "a couple of examples of tags used to display a list of your categories" and lists some specific lines of php code.

HOWEVER...nowhere in the entire chapter does she indicate WHICH FILE this code should be placed within...nor WHERE in the file the code should be placed. Both of which are critical, indispensable bits of information, without which her exhaustive coverage of Template Tags in this chapter and the following ones is useless. php is a finicky thing. It does not like experiments or approximations. Only someone already highly experience in php would be able to divine her intentions for where this code should be applied.

The information in this book is presented in a reckless, haphazard way that is not remotely practical.

This book is missing CRITICAL and APPLICABLE examples on virtually every page.

FOR the example above, Ms. Sabin-Wilson should provide a real-world example at the end of this section. "If you would like a page on your site to display ONLY posts tagged to the category RECIPES, first create a document in your text editor titled category-recipes.php, and copy and paste the information from the existing category.php file. Insert the following code /code/ into the category-recipes.php file below the /</head>/ line, and change the following entries..." etc.

Finally, this book is missing a step-by-step walk-through of how to build a sample site. "Our site is going to have a static landing page with 3 columns, a static ABOUT US page with 2 columns, a static CONTACT page with a single column, a BLOG page listing all posts tagged to the category BLOG, and a MUSIC page listing only custom posts. And here is how we're going to build it, each step of the way."

By the end of your journey through this book, you'll be infinitely more befuddled that you were when you began, and you'll be ready to hire Ms. Sabin-Wilson to build your site for you. But perhaps that was her intention all along?

This book lacks clarity, simplicity, and most of all...EXAMPLES. Do not buy this book if you do not already have a firm understanding of php, css, and have not already built several website using WordPress that required you to reach into the code beyond the available widgets and themes. This is a reference book. It is not a how-to book. And it is MOST CERTAINLY NOT for "Dummies."
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on August 31, 2011
I have to say that this book does have lots of good information. It is designed for people who already have some familiarity with Wordpress, and I have found that this book does give a good framework of how Wordpress works and how to modify and create themes. It does give a good framework to allow someone to move on and either learn more about programming Wordpress or to do some simple mods to improve a theme. It is well written and not too technical but also not too simple.

I would have given it 5 stars except for there is a slight credibility issue. She does give a lot of good links to get free utilities and find resources. She also gives links to programs in which she recommends that do require payment to use. My issue with this is, the link that is given is not straight to the program but through a link on her own website, and she then gets a kickback for being an affiliate. If she had mentioned that this what she was doing that would have been marginally better, but to not mention it, and receive an additional benefit seems sleazy to me and therefore makes you wonder how credible the link. Is this really the best tool or one that she recommends because she benefits from the link? The savvy user should just do a quick google search and come up with the link and evaluate whether it really is a tool that you need to use.

Worth getting and a useful book.


Update: I appreciate the author responding, I still feel that it would have been appropriate to disclose the reason for the redirection and to disclose that the author is getting compensation for some of the plugins that she is recommending. Since the book is an educational book, disclosure would have been best, so I still stand by my concerns, if it had been a self promotion advertisement than I could see not mentioning that fact. I added a star because of the disclosure from the author. I still recommend the book and did in my initial review.
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on September 27, 2012
I thought I'd done my homework before purchasing both WordPress Web Design for Dummies AND WordPress for Dummies. These are the first Dummies book I've bought, as we know, dummies don't buy books. They seemed like the best resources for learning how to build an original, professional looking CMS (content management system) website. And maybe they are. Maybe the problem is that you actually can't design and build a professional Wordpress website (not to be confused with the usual blog) unless you want to be a professional developer who knows how to code.

I read both books, cover-to-cover, as well as spending a lot of time exploring premium theme options online. I also looked at hundreds of websites made with WordPress, including the ones mentioned in Ms. Sabin-Wilson's books. In the end, I concluded that WordPress, beyond the blog, is much, much more complicated than most people can handle. This doesn't mean I have given up on my own project. I have invested too much time to abandon it now. This said, I don't feel the books are worth the time and money I've invested in them.

Sabin-Wilson takes so long to get to the point that whatever point she's trying to make gets lost in all the repetitive verbiage. This makes a ponderous subject even more ponderous. I give the book three stars because it is packed with information the author genuinely wants to impart. Unfortunately, it's not the kind of step-by-step tutorial the novice requires.

The book tries to simplify something that can't be simplified because it's not simple. It's complex. To get what you want, a polished, non-template looking website, you have to learn how to write and edit code. That's what I learned hundreds of hours later.

WordPress Web Design is most assuredly not for the novice. Even after taking in everything Sabin-Wilson has to share, you will be sorely tempted to call on her company to help you out. Maybe she can offer a coupon code in her next book for new clients.
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on April 15, 2012
Two shelves in my studio are lined with "for Dummies" books (plus I don't know how many in my storage shed). One thing I have always loved is that you can open any for dummies book, knowing nothing about the subject or software, and learn what you need to know in order to do what the title indicates. NOT SO WITH THIS BOOK!

After reading front and back covers, Author's Acknowledgments, About the Author, Publisher's Acknowledgments, Contents at a Glance, and Table of Contents, I believed that this book would give me the knowledge I needed to build my website using WordPress (which I was also brand new to) so I purchased this book. I was very shocked to find a subsection around the 20th physical page titled "FOOLISH ASSUMPTIONS". In that section, Lisa Sabin-Wilson reveals that this book will not be of use to me unless I already understand the innermost workings of WordPress. It goes on to tell me that if I don't already understand WordPress, I should first purchase and study another book authored by her in the for dummies series.

That information made the entire purpose of buying this book worthless. After all, if I already understood WordPress I wouldn't need THIS book. Based on all of my other for dummies books, I consider the title and covers of this book to be a gross misrepresentation of the actual contents. I wouldn't mind so much if the cover revealed that this is a book for techs who already know and understand WordPress, but it doesn't. This is definitely not a book that should be in the "for Dummies" series. I would never buy another book either written or co-written by Lisa Sabin-Wilson under the guise of it being for dummies (ie: people who do not already have an understanding of the topic). I will also seriously look deeper into the actual contents of any other "for Dummies" book before buying in the future just in case they are now starting to sell you one book only to tell you that you need to purchase another one in order to understand it.
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on July 20, 2011
so far it seems ok, the first thing out of the chutee in the book, it assumes you already know how to use I expected a dummies for book to actually start with the basics of the wordpress tool. to me this is a big missing gap what attracted me was that the book was for dummies (which usually start at the basics level) and integrated wordpress and design. It appears.. Now to get started i have to spend (see foolish assumptions in preview online) a few weeks learning wordpress before this content becomes applicable.
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on March 28, 2012
I purchased WordPress for Dummies with the goal of altering a WordPress theme that I previously purchased. However, after reading the book, I'm no closer to my goal. In defense of the author, learning HTML, CSS, and WordPress from a single text is a lot to expect. Since reading the book, I've spent countless hours on the and WordPress Codex sites and I'm still not able to make the necessary changes. Perhaps the fault lies with the student as the author clearly demonstrates her vast knowledge of the material. But in my particular case, WordPress for Dummies was not enough of a resource to help me reach my goal.
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on February 6, 2013
I saw Lisa Sabin-Wilson give a short presentation at WordCamp Philly. She seemed like a natural as a teacher. She also seemed to enjoy talking about WordPress and helping to make this wonderful platform more approachable.

I'm a graphic designer. I've made a living in print and digital media for many years. WordPress is a fantastic web building tool and the first technology that seems to work well for designers and developers as well as more casual users. It also has a growing and infinitely supportive community. Lisa's book helps to pull much of this together in short order.

However, like any book attempting to give detailed explanation about digital tools, it can only do so much. In some spots, I had wished for more specific examples. When I got into tight spots, I simply cross referenced her notes with those in the WordPress Codex, and I was able to get a more thorough understanding. The other thing to be aware of is that Wordpress is constantly being updated and improved. So, using this book as a jumping off point in association with support from elsewhere in the community works best. Essentially, I've learned tons just from reading though it as a tour and found it very helpful with the actual tasks when coupled with additional texts.

The nice thing about the book is that it corrals many of the key learning points of WP and moves you in the right direction.
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on November 25, 2012
I'm sure it is probably a good book but totally useless for me! The "Dummies" she wrote it for are a lot smarter than me!
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on March 1, 2013
While elsewhere marketed as the bible for WP users,THiS BOOK IS NOT for SERVICE HOSTED WP sites. It is ONLY for SELF-HOSTED WordPress sites. For me, it was a waste of money as I have a services hosted site. I would urge anyone looking for a book on such subjects to take advantage of the QuickLook feature at Amazon to read the first few pages of the material they are considering. This book, on page 2, said that it was NOT for service hosted sites. I missed that information and wasted $24. DON'T RUSH TO BUY like I did, do your homework, folks!
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on October 11, 2014
All of Lisa Sabin-Wilson's WordPress Dummies books are excellent and will help beginners understand some aspects of the WordPress experience. Few WP newbies will ever need to know about web design, but this book can help you to understand what's going on beneath the surface of your WordPress site.
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