A panel from Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and Wordpress.

Learning From the Funny Pages

Like a lot of people my age, nearly everything I’ve learned about building and altering websites has come to me on the fly. Sometimes I’ve had the leisure to teach myself, poking around on the back end of a site, figuring out what elements lead to this or that attribute. Other times, I just happen to be the one person hanging around who knows what a <p> tag is when something breaks, and I’m asked to dive into the HTML and fix it.

A panel from Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress.

A panel from Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress.

Maybe someday I’ll go to night school and get my webmaster’s license, but for now I’m having a ball reading the funny pages. See, I just started digging into a copy of Build Your Own Web Site: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress. And I never thought I’d say this, but the comic book format may be a perfect vehicle for teaching this sort of skill.

To carry this theme to its logical conclusion, let’s imagine the authors as a classic superhero team. The knowledge base is laid down by The Deft Explainer, a.k.a. Nate Cooper, a New York-based web consultant. Cooper’s world of web construction and design is brought to life by his sidekick, The Spunky Illustrator (a.k.a. Kim Gee). They take turns in each chapter; Gee lets us travel alongside her as she traverses the route of website creation, meeting wacky characters who lead her along the way to a perfect online portfolio. Then Cooper takes over, giving the more textbook version of what you’re learning in the comic. His language is very layman-oriented, and he throws in his share of levity too, so maybe “textbook” isn’t the best description. Regardless, Cooper’s screenshots and step-by-step instructions really compliment Kim’s sections well.

To me, the most interesting stuff was the CSS information, mostly because I’m not as well versed in that as I am HTML and content management. But I also appreciate that they tackle WordPress and the basics of creating a better blog, too. So many real estate pros simply throw words up on a page and don’t bother with site hierarchy or tags or formatting. The authors share simple tips and tricks (as well as the reasoning behind best practices) that have the power to not only make bloggers look more professional, but also help their websites look better in social media and across different browsers and devices.

You could probably follow this book to the letter and build a website. But I could also see this guide being really helpful for those folks who just want to be a little more hands-on with their existing site, understanding it more thoroughly and troubleshooting when issues come up. Also, it could make a great gift for an assistant or office manager who wants to expand their list of talents to the web.

Maybe I’ll see you in the funny papers?

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

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