Review: WordPress Web Design for Dummies 2nd Edition

WordPress Web Design for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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An updated version of the worthwhile 1st edition on designing and building WordPress-based sites. It covers installation, administration, basic theme development, and plugin use. It features colorful code snippets and screenshots. Most examples use the Twenty Thirteen theme.

I liked Chapter 11: Dissecting Themes and Templates, and Chapter 12: Displaying Content with Widgets and Template Tags. There are several good plugin recommendations throughout the book, but I would've chosen different ones for Chapter 17: 10 Powerful Plugins for WordPress; I routinely use only 2 of the 10 listed, and can think of others more valuable and more commonly used than those listed.

There's bonus content on the Dummies site, including Firefox add-ons, recommended premium themes, SEO tips, and recommended free themes.

I won a copy signed by author Lisa Sabin-Wilson. I had had the privilege of meeting Lisa at WordCamp Grand Rapids in 2012 and 2013. We both spoke at each conference.

Chad Warner with WordPress Web Design for Dummies


  • Use IETester to test different versions of IE (Windows only).
  • Use Responsinator to test your site at various mobile sizes.
  • Used named template files to offer a fallback. For example, if you call header-main.php but it doesn't exist, WordPress will use header.php.
  • When you duplicate sections of code in numerous template files, place the code in a separate file and load it using get_template_part.
  • Use template_directory in standalone and parent themes, and stylesheet_directory in child themes.
  • The Advanced Text Widget plugin allows you to execute raw PHP code and specify on which pages it should be displayed.
  • The Custom Post Type UI plugin provides an easy to use interface to create and administer custom post types and taxonomies.

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