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How to Build a Website and Publish Your First Page in Less Than 5 Minutes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Get Started Right Away Paperback – July 4, 2013
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Ulrich's book is pretty much designed for complete beginners: people who want a website, have no technical programming expertise, and have no idea how to proceed. Ulrich explains the basics: the need to select a domain, a hosting company, and a content management system. From there, he gives readers specific instructions on purchasing domain and hosting services from Blue Host and how to install Wordpress once someone has purchased a Blue Host package. For someone who hasn't taken any of these steps, Ulrich's guide appears fairly straightforward and simple, navigating users through Blue Host's various menu options. And here's where my problem with Ulrich's book begins.
Ulrich's book will be of limited help (beyond describing the basics of what domains, Web Hosting, and Wordpress are) for anyone who wants to purchase services from anyone besides Blue Host. Ulrich is a Blue Host affiliate and makes money every time someone purchases Blue Host services. He is upfront about admitting this in his book, but that point of view still influences how the book is written. His goal is to make it as easy as possible for someone to purchase Blue Host services and use those services to get a Wordpress-powered site up and running. There is certainly some value in what he's doing. I have services from another provider and, without a guide like Ulrich's, my options were to have a sales rep talk me through the process or to go with my would-be provider's instructions and how-to guides, which weren't nearly as concise as Ulrich's since my provider was trying to give instructions on ordering and activating every different type of service it provides.
However, there are many options besides Blue Host (as Ulrich admits), and lots of related problems and needs people have when setting up a website, and here's where Ulrich's limited guide is of little help. There's no advice about selecting a domain names (that's beyond the scope of the book, Ulrich says). There's no effort in the book to discuss what people should look for in a hosting company, or how the various hosting packages differ or what types of things people should be looking for in a hosting package, other than what most people already know: the longer a period you commit to, the less you'll pay. There's no discussion about free alternatives like Wordpress.com or BlogSpot, which may be a viable alternative for many people simply looking for a personal blog-type website. And, there's no discussion of how to point an existing domain to Blue Host (or any other provider). So, frankly, anyone looking to shop intelligently or who has already committed to other services besides Blue Host will get little help from Ulrich's guide.
Once Wordpress is installed, Ulrich's advice on customizing the site is similarly basic and rudimentary. He mentions the concept of themes and how one can select a theme, but not how to search Wordpress (or any other sites offering Wordpress themes) for themes suitable to the owner's needs. There's a minimal discussion of the options available in customizing a theme, primarily the fact that people can change colors or add a header. Similarly, there's a discussion of installing Yoast SEO and Jetpack plugins, but very little discussion of other plugins, what they do, or which types of plugins should be added to a site. There's no discussion of menus, widgets, or even the difference between static and post pages.
Instead of a general guide to setting up a website, Ulrich's book should more accurately be called, "How to Buy and Load a Blue Host Wordpress Site Using a Specific Theme Selected by Al Ulrich." And there is value in that, just as there's value in the "quick setup" guides that come with a new television set one buys. Unfortunately, anyone who wants to setup a website for business or even a better-than-rudimentary personal site won't get much help from Ulrich; instead, they'll need a second guide. And the fact is that there are basic guides available on Amazon that include virtually everything Ulrich's guide does AND that give people far more advice and help than Ulrich provides that charge the same (or less) than what Ulrich normally charges for his book (I got this book for free as a promotion, but there's normally a charge).
I find it hard to recommend this book to anyone. Those, like myself, who have some knowledge of domains, websites and web hosting will find little here they that they don't already know and almost all of it is specific to Blue Host. Beginners who want nothing more than to take Ulrich at his word and go and purchase hosting and domain services from Blue Host will get some decent instructions for doing that but little that will actually enable them to begin to produce a decent quality site that meets their specific needs. There are much better, inexpensive guides on Amazon that will provide significantly more value to readers than Ulrich's narrowly focused pamphlet, and those looking to start a website might be better served looking elsewhere for guidance.
I have actually launched several websites so I know the "lingo" which might be why I felt that some of the information was rather confusing. One thing I would HIGHLY suggest NOT doing is to just randomly type the domain name that you want into the browser line. You never know what you are going to get!! There are plenty of domain sites that allow you to check if a domain name is taken and even offer suggestions for alternatives if it is indeed taken.
The author has affiliate links in the online version of the book. That's not a big deal to me since it's a free book (or was when I got it and is when I rechecked). My problem is the information in the book is extremely limited. There is WAY more to the process if you actually care about your website. Many people just want to try out the process and not pay for a domain and hosting, etc. I will admit that I started to skim read through a lot of it because it gets a little wordy at times and I was just trying to see if there was anything helpful for someone like me... but I didn't see any mention of the fact that people can create a free blog site through WordPress without having to actually pay for anything. That's a good way to practice with plugins, themes, writing content, etc. You are VERY limited on what you can actually do on the free sites, but it is still a great way to get a little practice and start to learn what things do, etc..... all for free!
There is some information that is beneficial to people new to creating a website, but I think that this particular book could be very confusing to some people. For a free download, though, it's full of a lot of content (a lot of it free elsewhere, too) put into a decent order for people to try to make sense of something that can be very difficult to start learning.