Review: WordPress: The Missing Manual (Third Edition)

Other than my exposure to WordPress site administration via this blog (since it is powered by WordPress, if you couldn’t tell), I haven’t used WordPress in any capacity before, either professionally or for any personal projects. But with its massive popularity on the Web, I decided that I might as well take the time to learn WordPress better, and maybe even take a new direction in my career, so I recently picked up a copy of this well-reviewed title in print from Amazon (I buy a lot of technical ebooks in digital PDF format but generally prefer print books when they’re less focused on coding).

Now the most recent Third Edition (as of this review) is already a bit dated now since it was released in 2020, but fortunately, WordPress itself hasn’t changed enough for the book to be irrelevant since it covers version 5, which is just one version behind the current version 6 as of this writing. I was still able to easily follow along with almost all of the book content with no major discrepancies other than the use of the “Twenty Twenty” theme which naturally is a bit old now.

The next best thing about the book is that you don’t need to already have a WordPress site up and running, especially since the author goes over installation using LocalWP, a very convenient tool that simplifies installing WordPress on your own computer, and he also covers setting up the installation with content and themes. But if you do happen to have a WordPress site, the book becomes that much more useful to follow along with on your own WordPress site. This is exactly where the book excels, as it charts a general progress of installing WordPress, creating content and different types of content, explaining tags & categories and why you should use them, installing & using themes and plugins, and even some instructions on how to create your own themes and plugins (but nothing too advanced that would require writing code). It also makes sure to reinforce the point that WordPress isn’t always just for blogs either and can also be used to make dynamic websites with ecommerce plugins (which has certainly been the prevalent use case for WordPress in recent years).

While the book isn’t very hands-on and doesn’t cover the process of using WordPress to build a digital marketing website from beginning to end, it’s a very useful “piece by piece” reference that covers all the important parts of the WordPress site administration, using the post editor (and exploring what you can do within it), best practices on the options in the admin panels and what you might want to apply on your own website, and also particular plugins for certain scenarios and how to use them, in particular the very popular Jetpack plugin.

Conclusion: if you’re a new (or relatively new) owner of a WordPress site and haven’t really figured out your way around the admin panel yet, and are also possibly still figuring out your target audience, this book is very much worth picking up to learn the basics of how WordPress works and the features buried in the site admin panels. I learned quite a bit of new things from this book myself, even after running this WordPress blog for about 4 years now!

Rating: 4 out of 5 (-1 for lack of complete utility as a hands-on build-along, and lack of some depth on the Settings in the admin panel)