Book Review: Blog Design for Dummies by Melissa Culbertson

Blog Design for Dummies by Melissa CulbertsonTitle: Blog Design for Dummies
Author: Melissa Culbertson
Genre: Nonfiction, Reference Guide
Source: library
Published: July 15, 2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The average blogger does not typically have experience with design or coding, but that shouldn't deter them from having a professional-looking blog design. This friendly and easy-to-understand guide provides you with the tools you need to establish a creative, unique, and aesthetically memorable blog without having to learn how to code beyond some basic CSS. Whether you're looking to write for a major brand, become a brand ambassador, sell a product, acquire new clients, advocate for a cause, or simply tell a story, you'll find design tricks, helpful techniques, and invaluable advice for creating a great-looking and functional blog.
  • Provides the tools you need to understand what makes a successful blog from a design standpoint
  • Teaches you CSS coding that can be used to create an effective blog design that gets noticed
  • Helps you make design decisions regarding colors, fonts, and imagery
  • Places special emphasis on providing your readers with a site that is easy to use thanks to smart navigation

Blog Design For Dummies empowers you to make smart and creative adjustments to your blog so that you can be the proud owner of an effective blog design that gets noticed!


Why I Read this Book: I’ve been following Blog Clarity (formerly called Momcomm), a blog about blogging, for a while now and when I discovered that the blog author had written a book, I was intrigued. Even better, it’s a ‘for dummies’ book. So when I found out my library had a copy, I picked it up. I love learning new stuff, and learn I did.

What I Liked: I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. Was it going to be a book about coding? Was it going to cover stuff that was way over my head? Was I going to learn something, anything, from the book? While there were some sections on HTML and CSS, this is not a book dedicated to coding. The book had some stuff I already knew, or that didn’t apply to me and my needs, but it also had a lot of information that was new to me and relevant. I actually learned quite a bit. The author covered a large range of topics, such as: using images, font licenses (something I didn’t know about until recently, like within the last year), SEO, anchor text, alt attributes, and even using Google Analytics to improve your design even further. And the list goes on.

This book was full of resources. I made note of things I wanted to remember – A LOT of notes. There’s a cheat sheet, along with updates and extras, available online (links are inside the book), which are good since some of the material will eventually become outdated as technology is constantly evolving.

The author used a variety of blogs to demonstrate different design elements. I appreciate that the same blog was not used over and over again in the examples because it gave me a chance to check out all sorts of different blogs for myself to see how they do certain things in their own unique way. It was also nice that the entire book was in color, something that is not standard with the ‘for dummies’ books.

You can either read this book from beginning to end (like I did) or you can flip through and read the sections that interest you or pertain to your needs. Either way, this is a great book to have on hand to reference back to.

What I Didn’t Like: There were some things exclusively for Wordpress users, like making blog post excerpts showing up on your homepage, site maps, plugins, navigation menu, tabbed sidebar widget, and categories and subcategories. I wish there would have been more Blogger oriented material. There was also more in-depth information on Photoshop whereas GIMP  was only mentioned a couple of times and was not explored in detail.

Overall Impression: All in all, Blog Design for Dummies was an informative and resourceful book. I have already incorporated a few of the things I learned from this book into my blog design and can’t wait to go through the rest of my list. I consider myself an ‘intermediate’ blogger but still found a lot of the information useful and new to me. Blog design is a never-ending excursion for me and going through this book gave me lots of ideas, even stuff outside of the aesthetics aspect. If you are new to blogging, especially if you are going to blog on the Wordpress platform, you’ll want a copy of this book on your shelf for future reference. You could get the same information using a search engine (which is what I’ve done in the past and can be time consuming) but it’s nice to have it all packaged up in one book.



Brianna’s Rating:
4 Frogs


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About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.

12 comments:

  1. After reading the SEO for Dummies book, I have to say that the "for Dummies" books are great resources. You've got me curious about this one now.

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    1. I have a stack of "for Dummies" books sitting on my desk right now, and I have the SEO book on hold at the library. The "for Dummies" line of books are great. I love that they break topics down to a simpler form.

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  2. Sounds like an interesting book, and I love the For Dummies series so know it will be a good one too! I hadn't heard of Blog Clarity before, but always on the lookout for helpful hints so thank you!

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    1. Definitely check out the author's blog. I've found her site to be insightful.

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  3. I love that you read this and reviewed it! I'll have to check to see if my library has a copy because now I'm interested in reading it too.

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    1. I'm glad I read this book too. I learned quite a bit and have a lot of notes to go through (still). I'm on a "for Dummies" book roll right now! I have Blogging, Facebook, and Facebook Marketing on my desk right now.

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  4. Great Review! I just requested it from my library! I'm glad the have it because it's $17 O.O

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    1. I know, it's more $$ than what I'm used to spending on a book too. We're used to $8 and under. I'm glad your library has it. It's a great resource and I'm sure you'll take away something from reading it, if not lots of things.

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  5. Thanks for this review, I just hopped online and placed a reservation on our library smart catalogue and should have this within a week. I would like you prefer to get more about Blogger but I expect there will be plenty to keep me satisfied.

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  6. After seeing this book on your blog last week (I think) I checked it out right away from my library. It was an ebook. I agree... I wish there was more about Blogger. The parts I was most interested in were for Wordpress. Such a bummer. I found the Firebug for Firefox the most informative part of the book. I had no idea about it and since the preview button hasn't worked for me on blogger for months (no one at blogger will help me) this is an excellent tool for me to use now.

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    1. If you're on a PC and on the Blogger platform, I highly recommend you use Windows Live Writer to compose and publish your posts. I'll be doing a mini-challenge on WLW for the next round of Bloggiesta.

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  7. I have always been curious about the "for dummies" books but I have never really tried one out. This one sounds like a good start and, as a noob, I can use all the help I can get! Thanx for the review :)

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