Joomla is one of the most popular open source projects in software history, especially if you narrow that down to projects related to the Web. The basic concept is that Joomla is a content management system, or CMS, and that using this CMS you can build your own websites without much difficulty. Most of the technical issues surrounding website creation fade into the background because Joomla’s built-in tools handle them. Joomla uses templates and a graphical user interface to make creating and customising your own site fast and easy. In this post, we will talk about how to make a Joomla website and about some of the most important features of Joomla. Once you are done, you will be able to get started on your own Joomla sites and will know all the basics.
First of all, you will need to download the Joomla client. But before you start installing it, you need to set up a domain and hosting. That is outside the scope of this post, but setting up a website using any interface or tools of any kind will require a domain and a host. You can think of getting a host and a domain as analogous to a business renting a building. Joomla will help you get the building looking and working the way you want, but you still need the building.
In any case, once you have a domain and hosting services set up you will be able to install Joomla. You should install it automatically if you can. It only takes a few minutes and works quite smoothly. You will need to create an account so that you can log in to your site’s administrative tools later. Joomla will then start to generate a sample site for you. This is just to give you an idea of what your site could look like: you can make it completely different if you want. Usually the sample site is set up like a blog, with some sample blog posts in the centre and left, a sidebar on the right with some useful links and other blog-like features, and a title with an image at the top.
Making Your Mark
The sample site looks pretty good, and if you try out different things you will see just how much Joomla works behind the scenes. For example, shrink the browser and the page will automatically reformat itself so that it still looks good. Try visiting the page on a mobile device, too: you will get a similar effect. If you were building a website yourself you would need to add code in order to make all of that happen.
To get started messing around with Joomla and customising the site, you need to log in to the administrator’s panel. First go up to the address bar and add “/administrator/” to the end and hit enter. That will bring you to a login page where you will be asked for your username and password. This is where you enter the admin account information that you set up during installation.
Once you are logged in, you are at your control panel. Along the top, you will see a bar of menus with names like System, Users, Menus, Extensions, and so on. These are the most important menus in Joomla: all of your tools and features are inside those menus. Along the left side, you will see some extra panels with other commands and places, like “Add New Article” in the Content section and “Module Manager” in the Structure section. The central pane will contain some information that changes depending on which top menu you are using at the time.
Publishing and Modifying
Start out by making a new blog post. Use Add New Article or the Article Manager to get to the right interface, where you can add content, a title, and a category. You get a standard text editor and some extra tools in other menus, which you can peruse later. For now, publish the article. It will appear in the Article Manager as well as the site itself. You can add images, add metadata, change its publication status and who can see it, and more, all from this interface.
Go to the Extensions menu up top and click on Template Manager. Here, you can change the overall look and design of your site. Alter the colours, the fonts, change the layout, give it a title and a logo- you can do a lot here. To make more changes, go to the Module Manager in the Extensions menu. You will get a list of modules, which is what Joomla calls those sidebar features on the blog, like the button to get to older posts, the blog roll, the image, the main menu panel, and so on. They are listed in position 7: that is the sidebar. If you change the position those elements move.
A useful trick is to go back to the Template Manager, go into Options, and enable Preview Module Positions. Then navigate to your domain with “?tp=1” added to the end. This brings you to a special preview page where you can see what all the position numbers mean and where each position is. Try making some changes and coming back to the preview.
The Extensions menu is very important, and so is Components. Components contains major Joomla features like the update tool, the tag tool, search tools, messaging tools, and so on. You’ll spend a lot of time there. Lastly, go to the Joomla Extension Directory, or JED. This is the one and only place to get Joomla extensions, of which there are thousands. If you want to add more functionality to Joomla, you can probably find it here.
To make a Joomla website is easy, but you do need to get into the menus and try them out to see what they do. With this tutorial and some hands-on learning, you will be all set.