Build Your First Website in Simple Steps

Author: Joe Kraynak
Publisher: Prentice Hall, 2011
Pages: 280
ISBN: 978-0273745419
Aimed at: Non-programmers
Rating: 4
Pros: Pretty comprehensive and attractively presented
Cons: Short on explanation
Reviewed by: Lucy Black

This isn't a book for programmers, but could it be useful next time someone corners you and asks for your help and advice?

 

 

Author: Joe Kraynak
Publisher: Prentice Hall, 2011
Pages: 280
ISBN: 978-0273745419
Aimed at: Non-programmers
Rating: 4
Pros: Pretty comprehensive and attractively presented
Cons: Short on explanation
Reviewed by: Lucy Black

Normally on this site you expect to find books that, even if they are not about programming, will be of interest to programmers. This one is an exception. But I'm sure you've been in situations where, on disclosing your profession to someone who knows next to nothing about computers, pounces on you for help and advice - and building a website is just one of the topics they could choose.  And recommending a book is a quick way out!

This book is in full color and with lots of illustrations and big print so it comes across as friendly and approachable. What it doesn't make clear is on the cover that it concentrates on WordPress. This is in many ways a good idea since WordPress is free - my criticism is the minor one of including WordPress somewhere on the book description would be helpful.

 

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Some books start with a preface - this one starts with Top 10 Website Tips and if you go with the first one, Build a free Goggle site, then a lot of the rest of the book is irrelevant. However the tip does suggest that while a Google site is a good way to learn the basics it may not be the best long term strategy. I found the second tip Create a static website with WordPress less than helpful. It raises the question "What do you mean by static?" and made me look for the introduction of the alternative idea - a dynamic website with content supplied by a database. I then discovered a shortcoming of this book - no index. The contents page does have a topic listed for every page, which is helpful for finding something quickly, but there's nothing about database although Chapter 4 is on Content Management Systems (which furnish a dynamic website) the word "dynamic" isn't mentioned as far as I can tell.

So we have a niggle with the tips section - but in fact you can skip these until later and you'll come across Tip 1 again at the very beginning of the first section. It has the title Know Your Options and goes through them in order of complexity from Build a free hosted website (i.e. a Google one), through Create a free hosted blog (using Google's Blogger.com), Use a Web Hosting service, Build offline with a Web design application (mentioning the free web authoring program KompoZer) to Code your site manually with HTML and CSS - which is does point out immediately is the most difficult way.

In the introduction to Section 2 Joe Kraynak writes:

I strongly encourage you to build your site via a Web hosting service ...

and given the reasons he then gives coupled with the fact that there are plenty of web hosting services to choose from, many of them under $5 per month, this seems sound advice. Section 2 then goes though finding and researching a Web hosting service, creating an account and exploring the hosting service's control panel with cPanel being used as the example. It next goes through lots of preliminary administrative tasks starting with Register a Domain name - but it hasn't tackled how to choose a domain name. This may be due to the nature of the book. It is very much showing how to do things. It is big on pictures and short on words and so problems like how to pick a domain name - and it is something that is fraught with pitfalls - don't really fit in.

The next section may come as a culture shock. We've been proceeding as if the reader was fairly naive and already we are into FTP for file transfer and all the admin that it involves in terms folders, clients and accounts . Well a website needs content and as the introduction points out, even if you are going to use a content management system you'll need to upload pictures.

Section 4 is about Content Management Systems and although there is a page titled Explore your options, the author recommends WordPress and quickly goes into installing and using it.

After this we get to sections that are much more creative - Design an attractive colour scheme; Choose a theme, introducing both free and premium one for WordPress; Customise the header, Configure your site with (WordPress) widgets, Accessorise your site with (WordPress) plugins.       

Section 10 goes back to something more mundane - content, again with reference to WordPress. It goes through adding pages and blog posts. It also looks at adding an email contact form and whether to allow comments and there's also a look at HTML. The section concludes by reminding you to back up the site's content.

Section 11, Configure a template with cascading style sheets (CSS) takes us into advanced territory that can be avoided by most websites - unless you want to go in for website development and this would not then be the right book to choose. It's an odd inclusion in a book that omits JavaScript and the very next section Configure your site's design wih a premium theme suggests an alternative way that you can achieve style changes  without having to dive so deep using a commercial theme. The following section is on adding graphics and videos and this is back to standard WordPress.

The final sections look at some useful tools for improving you site and monetizing it. Section 14, Test and improve your site's speed looks at several free resources - Pingdom.com, Google Page Speed and W3 Total Cache. Section 15 Raise your site's search engine profile explains how to register a site with search engines, the idea of SEO and the use of SEO Doctor. Section 16 is on Manage your site with Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics and Section 17 Generate income from your site covers selling through affiliate programs, AdSense for pay per click advertising, adding a PayPal shopping cart and co-ordinating with an eBay account.

The final ten pages of the book are devoted to solving the Top 10 Website Problems and if the reader has succeeded in building a website by this point some or all of them could well be useful.

So should you recommend this book?

Well it's not detailed enough to be a complete idiot's guide nor is it  suitable for anyone who like working with code - there's almost no hint of JavaScript. But that does leave a large middle ground of computer literate non-programmers and for them this should be a useful volume - as long as they choose WordPress as the CMS.

 

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Pro CSS for High Traffic Websites

Author: Antony Kennedy and Inayaili de Leon
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 401
ISBN: 978-1430232889
Aimed at: Web developers
Rating: 4
Pros: An interesting insight into CSS
Cons: Not for the beginner, nor the accomplished expert
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

CSS for high traffic websites? Does it sound like a book a d [ ... ]



Apache Hadoop YARN

Authors: Arun C Murthy, Vinod Kumar Vavilapalli
Publisher: Addison Wesley, 2014
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0321934505
Aimed at: Programmers who want to learn about the most recent Hadoop
Rating: 4
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank

Subtitled "Moving Beyond MapReduce and Batch Processing with Apache Hadoop".


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Last Updated ( Friday, 13 May 2011 )
 
 

   
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