In the past, I have avoided reading books in the Dummies series. I think it has to do with my intellectual pride. Also, there are several things, such as raising chickens, acrylic painting and organic gardening that I’d rather learn in a face-to-face class than through a book.
I frequently wish I knew more about web page design. In September, when I transferred my blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org site, I paid someone to do it for me. The WordPress Happiness Engineer I worked with used fancy terms such as CSS and CMS that I knew nothing about. As I delved into attempts at personalizing my site, I came to several dead-ends due to my inability to develop HTML codes. I looked into basic web design classes at my local community college, and found they start at around $150 and were web-based classes, which didn’t really excite me. Finally, I surrendered my intellectual pride and checked out HTML, XHTML & CSS for Dummies from my local library.
The book is written from the stand point that you already have a basic understanding of how to use a computer and surf the internet. Very early on I learned that I really didn’t know that much about web development, such as what the acronyms URL, HTML and CSS stand for. In Part I: Getting to Know (X)HMTL and CSS, I became a bit too excited and ambitious. It was like learning a new language and the possibilities with web design became endless.
HTML, XHTML & CSS for Dummies covers topics such as creating forms within websites, how to create links to other online resources, finding and using images, and developing your own Cascading Style Sheets for easy maintenance of web page style and structure. My enthusiasm was short-lived, and I became lost at around Chapter 6: Linking to Online Resources. Though I finished the book, I came to the decision that web design really isn’t my thing.
As a WordPress software user, I realized that I’ve become spoiled by a Content Management System that pretty much does all of the hard stuff for me. HTML, XHTML & CSS for Dummies has just one chapter devoted to CMS, with equal space devoted to WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. I got the impression the authors weren’t huge fans of these programs geared toward non-technical users.
While the tools to develop my own web site didn’t stick with me, what I took away from this book is a stronger consideration for web site visual layout and user-friendliness, a basic understanding of web design lingo, and about a dozen or so useful tidbits that I might try out on my blog.
If you’re looking to develop a business or personal website from scratch, and save money in the process, HTML, XHTML & CSS for Dummies could be a useful read. But if you’re a personal blogger looking to improve your site, you might rather check out the dozens of Dummies titles on internet and social media.