WordPress Theme Design by Tessa Blakeley Silver is a slim book that is packed with information. Subtitled “A complete guide to creating professional WordPress themes”, it is amazing how much the book lives up to its billing. What makes this book so unique and valuable is that it is not a syntax guide or how-to for dummies, it is instead a step by step design tutorial.
The author concentrates on the why’s and wherefores of WordPress site design instead of getting bogged down in the minutia of every single menu possibility or syntax statement. For those looking for a thorough dictionary of all the WordPress programming codex, you need to look elsewhere. While the most commonly used commands are covered, the syntax is not gone into in detail and there are many functions left out. That type of reference is best left to books like WordPress Complete or the online help.
What Silver does in this book is start with the initial conceptualization of a site and then follow it all the way through to the end. From the very beginning with back-of-the-napkin sketches, this book makes it clear that the real heavy lifting of website design work is in deciding what you want the site to do. It is only after your decide what the site should do and how you want that presented that you can begin to program your website and actually get it to function.
Chapters on theme development, debugging, plug-ins and dynamic content go beyond the basics of WordPress to bring a full image to your web design. By showing how all of these features are first planned and then implemented, the author provides a great blueprint for the actual successful creation of a functioning site.
While the book was written before version 2.7 of WordPress was released, there is not too much that doesn’t apply across versions. Mostly this is because more emphasis is placed on the design than the technical details of syntax. Of course that is also the books one weaknesses. You will not want this to be your only WordPress reference. You will either want to avail yourself often of the online help, or you will need a more technical companion, such as the aforementioned WordPress Complete.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. If you need to create a truly custom WordPress site, and especially if you want to create more than one, you need a guidebook like this to blaze the trail.