I was over at Chris Jarvis’ blog today and noticed he’s announced a new book coming out: Blog Design Solutions (pre-orders are available but it’s not out till the 20th of February). Funnily enough, I said to someone last night that I found it strange that no-one had yet put out a book on blog design!
The book is a team effort of Phil Sherry, Andy Budd, Simon Collison, Michael Heilemann (aka binarybonsai), Drew McLellan (aka allinthehead), David Powers, Chris J. Davis and John Oxton (aka joshuaink). See their author bios. I gotta say, if Chris, Andy, Michael and John are working together on a book, it’s gotta be good! (I don’t know the others but I’m sure they’ll be interesting too).
The book’s excerpt was a little off-putting in parts however. Here’s the meat of it:
“[The book will show] how to set up a basic blog in some of the world’s most popular blogging engines – Movable Type, ExpressionEngine, WordPress, and Textpattern.”
This is all well and good, and I guess they’re be an audience for this. But… blog software is changing rapidly and the instructions could become quickly outdated. Each of these systems have great online installation instructions. There’s a tonne of resources like my video tutorial for installing WordPress 2.0 too. I don’t really consider this to be a part of blog design – I’d hope that one would start from a basis that assumes your audience already has a blog installed.
With your blog set up, they then show you how to build great looking, usable layouts for your blog.
This will be the part of the book I hope to enjoy reading through the most. I hope the book will include usability and accessibility tips (e.g. avoiding the sidebar clutter).
The last chapter even shows you how to build your very own PHP/MySQL-based blog engine!
Maybe I’m reading this incorrectly, but they’re going to cover rolling your blog software too? Not sure if that’s really design. Will it be over-the-heads of non-programmers who are just after design advice and inspiration? While rolling your own software is often preferrable for specialised applications, blog tools these days are incredibly flexible and extendable. If they were going down this path, I would have preferred to have seen discussion about plugins which are available and writing your own.
It’s hard to tell how good the book will be, based on this excerpt. I hope the book will meet my high expectations of authors such as these!