Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review: Wordpress 2.8 Theme Design by Tessa Blakeley Silver

Wordpress 2.8 Theme Design (affiliate link)
Tessa Blakeley Silver
ISBN 1849510083
Review by Megan Fister, 
Central Pennsylvania Adobe User Group (CPAUG) - Manager
Wordpress 2.8 Theme Design (affiliate link) is the right book for those who currently understand the basics of Wordpress setup and theme modifications.  Many books on Wordpress explain how to set up a self-hosted Wordpress blog, customize a header graphic and basic Wordpress blog management tasks and procedures.  Wordpress 2.8 Theme Design takes you beyond the setup and management basics and into the creation of your own unique Wordpress theme from start to finish and is best for those who are comfortable with XHTML, CSS and Photoshop or GIMP. Silver begins with pros and cons of creating your own theme including Wordpress design best practices.

Silver has what some would consider a unique way of creating rapid prototype composites.  Rather than sketching and designing first is a design program (e.g. Photoshop), she starts out with a rough sketch then moves directly into developing the layout in HTML and CSS.  Her reasoning for this is twofold: First, she knows that by creating and laying everything out in XHTML and CSS that the site actually works for the real environment it will be used on.  Second, many changes from clients come in the form of text tweaks.  Working this way is easier in her view then wading through many Photoshop layers.  From there, she takes a screen-capture of the layout and finesses it in Photoshop to create a comp that is easy to update and has the benefit of being partly coded.  From there she takes the reader through the steps to convert the HTML to XHTML & PHP for Wordpress, widgetizing, testing your code and more.

There's a lot to like about this book.  Just the fact that the book is about Theme design and not just another "Wordpress basics" book is worth noting.  The instruction and reasoning behind each step and area of development is clear and concise.  However, I tried and just couldn't get into a good groove in using her HTML to composite process.  I'm going to give it another shot in the future but even if you work from PSD composite to XHTML/CSS the book is still very good - you'll just need to reverse some of her work flow ideas to suit yourself. 

Disclosure:  I received this book at no cost from the book publisher.  The link provided in this blog post is an affiliate link.  Any proceeds from that link go back into running and supporting CPAUG.

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