Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Beginner’s Guide by Rahul Pitre

Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Beginner’s Guide

  • Author: Rahul Pitre
  • 256 pages
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (November 25, 2009)

“Build and customize your small business website.”

This book starts out with an excellent preface on what Office Live Small Business is and why you need it. It also goes into what you probably can and can’t do with the service and when you should consider using something else. It also discusses who this book is for. I like the preface actually. It’s personable and gives you a good sense of the tone for the rest of the book.

Let me just say that even though this book is about a specific product, there’s plenty of advice in here about building websites. In fact, I found more good advice in here about building websites, and website design than I have in many of the books I’ve seen on website design. That said, this is a basic book on just what it says: Microsoft Office Live Small Business. MOLSB is an online website building tool and service from Microsoft and it’s got lots of features you’ll need to know about if you’re planning to build your site with it. This book does exactly what it sets out to do. It’s extremely well illustrated with full-color photos of just about every screen it talks about. Just from reading this book I’ve got a really good idea of how to use MOLSB and I’ve never even been there. The tutorial style is also very nice. Everything is laid out for you in step-by-step details that accompany the pictures.

It’s got a very easy-going style that talks to you and not at you while still giving you the right amount of information. I like how it covers every aspect of the product from the most basic to the most advanced. It’s got several sections in every chapter to help you along your way. It’s got sections that explain things, sections that walk you through things, give you tips, quiz you, etc. It’s really organized well and I actually wish that someone would use this format for other books as well.

So whether you’re actually going to use MOLSB or not, if you’re new to web design this is an excellent book to get started with. You’ll have to pick through the product-specific stuff, but it’s actually worth it to get some of the design advice. And if you’re going to be using MOLSB then you can’t ask for a better guide to take you all the way from complete novice to relatively advanced.

Table of Contents

Ch 1. Getting Started

It starts with showing you how to sign-in to the website. It then takes you through a tour of the website and some of its features. It then has a ‘time for action’ section where you have to actually get on and do something yourself.

It carries on like this, showing you different portions of the design pages and explaining things to you along the way and giving you a chance to do it for yourself as you go along. It’s got nice color pictures every step of the way and easy to follow instructions. It even has a pop quiz section to make sure you were paying attention.

Ch. 2 Customizing Headers and Footers

Here you start by building the shell of your site by choosing a title, a slogan, etc for your site. You then move into creating the footer (where you’ll quite often have contact info or the like). And of course you’re guided every step of the way with full color pictures and step-by-step instructions. And again there’s a pop quiz at the end.

Ch. 3 Setting Design Options

This chapter walks you through setting up the theme to your site. Things like styles, fonts, navigation, etc are all covered. It even goes into things that might take you by surprise like where you title went when you start playing with some of this stuff. Don’t worry, it’s all explained. He even gives you some advice on designs to help you pick what’s best for you.

Ch. 4 Setting Page Display Options

Here’s where you’ll see how to do things that can make a big difference in your site like setting page width, page alignment, etc. Oddly enough, these are the types of things that can give you quite a bit of trouble when coding your own site so it’s not only important to get right, but it’s important to know that this product does it for you. And for those of you who are HTML savvy, he even shows you how to add your own custom CSS code so you can control the look even better.

Ch. 5 Building your Website’s Skeleton

Now you’re getting to the meat of your site: content. You won’t get anywhere without content. And here you see how to create the home page and all the other important pages that a site should have. Here he starts out by giving you a basic plan for what you’re going to do and then he walks you through the steps to do it. These steps include everything like choosing a homepage to setting the layout and creating the content. Then he goes into the differences between the different types of webpage extensions.

Ch. 6 Building the Information Pages

Here again you’ve got another really important section. Here you learn how to create your actual information pages that will be the actual content of what you want to say. And not only does it show you how to do it, it also discusses important topics like what should actually go on these pages, how to sub-divide it and organize it. I’m not going to go into very much detail about the discussions because I want you to actually read it for yourself, but it’s a really good tutorial on the basics of how to design a website. It talks about all the things you should take into consideration. Needless to say though, I really like this chapter above all the others so far.

Ch. 7 Improving the Presentation

Alright, now it’s time to make your site pop. Here you learn how to create links, put pics, and even present data the way you want it. And again I’m not going into tons of detail, but it’s a nice tutorial chapter on how to not only do these things, but also the best ways within the product to make it happen.

Ch. 8 Fine-tuning the Design

This is really just an extension of the other chapter where it showed how to create the header and footer and styles. Here you’re just fine-tuning what you’ve already done. It’s an important part of the process, it’s just not worth writing about in this review.

Ch. 9 Venturing Beyond the Basics

Yeah, now you’re getting into the stuff for more experienced users. Here’s where you see how you can create your own HTML code, embed Flash, and even PayPal. This is what I’ve been waiting for because I’m pretty experienced with HTML so this is where I’d spend most of my time. Here though you get basic HTML instructions as well as all the other stuff so if you don’t know how to code in the markup at all, this will show you how. And of course there are lots of pretty pics and directions along the way.

Ch. 10 Optimizing for Search Engines

This is an excellent chapter on how to optimize for the search engines and it’s great for anyone building a site really, and not just those using this product. It does have keys however, that do have something to do with this product. Still, someone not using this product would still get something out of it.

-Sean McCown,


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