Author: Paula Wynne
Publisher: Lean Marketing Press, 2010
Aimed at: Everyone - or so it claims
Pros: Some good advice from its Expert Panel
Cons: Doesn't tackle building a website, just thinking about it
Reviewed by: Lucy Black
This book's subtitle is Easy Do It Yourself Steps To Online Success - does it live up to this promise?
The first line of the Foreword reads "My advice is that you must read this book cover to cover before you even think about or attempt to create a website". The foreword has been contributed to Paula Wynne's book by Claire Young - once a finalist in The Apprentice in the UK.Well if we are to do this it needs to keep our attention throughout - and there are not many technical books that even set out to do this, let alone succeed.
The next section is Who Should Read this book - and most of us would skim to discover if and where we fit in. In this case the first item is Everyone but this is followed by a long list of more specific groups. After this there's a section of Introductions - to the book, its author and the book's expert panel - and again you are advised to read about all of them before reading their advice. Seven of the eight members of the panel are women (not a problem apart from gender bias) and many of them are high profile. at least in the UK and despite being about the world wide web this book is very UK oriented. The best known name to me is that of Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet.
Once it gets going the book's content is presented in 10 chapters - or rather Days, starting with Day 1: Planning & Research. This is a long chapter and may be a bit daunting in covering naming your site as one of the early topics - anyone who has set up a website knows how many problems and pitfalls surround this aspect of the enterprise. While it does cover website specific topics such as domain names and hosting other topics - like SWOT analysis and mind maps have wide applicability - you may see this as an advantage but personally I felt it was straying off topic at certain points. Day 2 is devoted to Branding and again a lot of it could apply equally well to print material or packaging.
Day 3 is on Navigation and covers some of the jargon terms you'll meet - sitemap, parents, children, orphans,static and dynamic pages, breadcrumbs - and includes a useful list of navigation rules however it opens with a short section on a topic that deserves more exploration - CMS: Content Management System. What you decide with regard to CMS will crucially determine, and limit, what you can do with a website so just giving it less than a page here is perhaps shortsighted.
We actually return to take a longer look at some specific CMSs - Drupal and Joomla - in Day 4: Free Websites but here it is mixed in with a look at blogs, Amazon's aStore, Weebly, Squidoo and others. Day 5: Hosted Websites also refer to CMS options (and so does Day 6: Bespoke Websites) but the emphasis is on the charges and what is included in the package and often we are looking at quite distinct offerings CafePress for example is a very different thing to Dreamweaver but both are mentioned here.
When we get to Day 7:Content the topic isn't about how to get the content onto the website, Rather its about how to keep visitors engaged and keep them coming back. Early in this chapter it introduces Bounce Rate and at the end we look at Forums.
Day 8: E-Commerce cover considerations for setting up an online shop including payment methods and Day 9: Revenue is in some ways a logical follow-on. It looks at different ways to monetise your site - including affiliate marketing, e-books, Google Adsense, banner advertising and sponsorship.
My main criticism of the book is that when you reach Day 10: Go Live you realize that it doesn't tackle the topic indicated by its title. Nowhere does it discuss the "easy do it yourself steps" to actually construct a website, rather it is confined to the planning and preliminary stages. To a certain extent you have been warned. In Introducing the Book it point's out that this is not a developer's guide and doesn't teach HTML but even so there is scope for some more practical website building material. If you use a CMS or a blogging application then you certainly don't need to know anything about HTML.
This final chapter is disappointingly short - as though the book has run out of steam. About the only useful information here is how to add tracking code for Google Analytics - but whole books have be written about this topic and the coverage here is brief and uncharacteristically technical.
This book is very listy and using lots of bullet points, pros and con lists,checklists and instructions with numbered steps. It is also broken up into short sections particularly where it compares options and goes through a standard descriptions for each one. All this makes it more like a reference than a book that you can sit down to read.
Overall this book has good intentions that are not entirely fulfilled. There are nuggets of good advice from the expert panel who have trodden this road before and can alert you to its pitfalls and point out some shortcuts but in other respects its approach is confused and ultimately confusing.