Complete Guide to Joomla 3.x – Building Your Own Website
So you are looking to create a website with Joomla, but before you are diving into learning the CMS, probably you want to know if it is worth using it. Of course it worth it, because you can use Joomla for free. But does Joomla provides you with the necessary options that you need for building a website and managing the your content? Lets find out! In the following I will present you the power of Joomla, guiding your through all its features.
The Basics of Joomla 3
Joomla is a website content management system. You don’t need special software and you can run it with any browser, operating system or devices. It is free and unbranded.
A standard Joomla 3 installation might be exactly what you need for a simple website. But the power for Joomla is brought by the number of useful and interesting third party extensions. This can help you to boosts your website. Some of them are free, other are a premium paid.
Also Read: How to Create a Website with Joomla?
There are two parts of Joomla. The frontend which represents the web pages seen by your visitors and the backend which is the website management area.
There are four requirements to know how to handle Joomla:
- A basic understanding of how websites work
- An understanding of how Joomla works
- The Joomla software
- A Joomla web hosting account
With Joomla, you can create simple sites with text and images or special sites such as blogs. Also, you can create a custom application with Joomla with its code because it is open source.
Another nice feature of Joomla is represented by templates. There are also free and premium version and you can even create your own if you have the skills.
There are also multiple content management systems that can be used as alternatives for Joomla 3 such as WordPress or Drupal.
How to Install Joomla?
To install Joomla 3 you need to get access to a reliable Joomla hosting service. While Joomla is free to use, you still have to purchase a web hosting account. I don’t recommend using free hosting for your Joomla website. Most hosting providers will give access to cPanel, which is a great tool to manage your files and database and install Joomla with ease.
In cPanel, you can scroll to the Site building software and click the Joomla icon. You will be taken to Softaculous auto installer script. This software can install multiple scripts and content management systems automatically.
The next step is to click the blue button named Install and then you need to choose or write multiple information about your installation. At the first drop-down button, you need to choose the Joomla version you want to install.
Next, you should choose protocol to HTTP and WWW. So people will access your site writing www or HTTP protocol. If you have more than one domain name set to your hosting you need to choose the domain you want to use for the website.
The next option is to write the directory where you want to install Joomla. You can even let it blank. At the database field you can see there is already a name written and you can leave it in that way without a problem.
Next, you should write the name of your website and a description. At database settings you have table prefix which is already written and you can let the default one on. You should select none at the data sample drop-down menu. Next, you need to write down the admin account data such as username, password, real name and e-mail.
Next, you just click the install button and wait a couple of seconds until Joomla is installed. When is ready you can click the top link to see your new website created with Joomla.
Here is a detailed guide on how to install Joomla to InMotion hosting, which is a good web hosting provider and which I recommend.
Features of Joomla 3
Joomla has multiple features. It is easy to update and can be updated from anywhere, anytime, by more than one person to update or to manage. Joomla 3 has easy design changes and no need to pay someone to update because it is almost automatically.
Joomla 3 is free, open source, cross-platform and has a lot of support provided by forums, community, websites, tutorials, and documentation. It also has a long history.
Another important feature that thousands of extensions and templates are available to Joomla, and both extensions and templates are open source.
Joomla 3 is secure and safe and very popular, also it is developer friendly.
Joomla 3 Requirements
Joomla has a couple of technical requirements even if you can use Joomla 3 on your own computer, but the best solution is to use a web host. First, you need a web hosting package and a domain name. Next, you need the proper software versions for either a Linux web hosting or a Windows web hosting.
In the case of a Linux hosting, Joomla 3 needs at least Apache 2, PHP 5.3.1, MySQL 5.1 or PostgreSQL 8.3.18. In the case of a Windows hosting, you will need IIS 7, PHP 5.3.1, MySQL 5.1 or MSSQL 10.50.1600 or PostgreSQL 8.3.18.
Also, you need resources for installation such as database and storage space. Some of the web host companies also provide an auto install script such as Softaculous or Fantastico which is a valuable resource helping you to automatically install Joomla.
If you choose another installation method beside the Softaculous one, you also need an FTP client such as Filezilla or WinSCP. When you download Joomla is archived so you need a software such as Win-RAR, Win-Ace, Unzip or 7-zip to extract files from your archive. All of this software are free to use.
Joomla Frontend and Backend
You can access your Joomla frontend by going directly to your Joomla website while the de backend is accessible by writing /administrator to your website’s link. For the administrator section, you need to log in with your username and password.
Both frontend and backend depend on the FTP files and by the database where it is installed.
You can see the FTP files using an FTP client and logging with FTP the address, username, and password. You can see there multiple folders such as images folder where images from your website are uploaded. There is a templates folder where you can see folders for each template. There is also an administrator folder for the backend. The modules folder includes folders for each module installed on your Joomla folder.
In the root of Joomla, you can see an index.php file which is actually the first page of your website and it contains scripts for your design, extensions, and other pages. Joomla is powered by index.php.
Site template builds the pages. Content is assigned to template positions.
At the backend, you can see all the tools required to control your Joomla websites such as system, users, menus, content, components and extensions. All these tools have additional options and settings so you can delete, edit or add multiple options.
Creating, Publishing and Managing Content with Joomla
Primary content is the one which usually appear in the middle of the page, while de secondary one is everything else and usually is placed above, below or in sidebars.
The Joomla storage system is similar to a computer so it has multiple files stored in a folder and that folder are also stored in other folders and so on. You usually create articles which are stored in categories and you can use a nesting system creating categories in categories.
A useful tool is to create a sitemap for your articles in order to find them quickly. You need to think carefully about your category hierarchy.
To create a category, you need to log in at your administrator panel where you have category manager in the left or from the content menu on the top. After pressing this options, you can see a list of categories and subcategories. You have the green new button, which helps you to create a new category for your articles. You write the title, the description and you can select a parent if you need. Other optional features are publishing, permissions and copy. When you are done you click the save & close button and you will see again the list of categories. Your new category is the last one from your list.
If you want to edit a category just click the title and you can make any changes and save. To remove a category, you have the trash button.
Now that you have categories, you can create articles going at the content menu at article manager. Here you can create a new article using the green new button and then you enter a title, category and so on. There are multiple other options such as publishing, images and links, options, configure edit screen and permission.
The editor for articles is similar with the Word one so you can bold, underline, cut, use paragraph, lists and so on while you write your own text in the text box. When you finished. You should save and close.
Next, you can search and filter after articles if you want to edit one by using the search box. You can sort them by date, author, status, title and so on. Or you can just type a word that your articles contains. Near the search box, there are search tools available for advanced search.
To edit an article, you just need to press the article title, to edit and then save again. To delete an article you have the trash button.
In the first part, I wrote about Joomla basics, installation, features, requirements, frontend, backend and content.
In the second part, I will write about menus, modules, templates, and extensions.
Creating and Managing Menus in Joomla
Menus are the most difficult concept for Joomla users to understand. In the traditional website, you create pages and then you create menus with links pointing to those pages. In Joomla, you first write content and then you create a menu containing menu items. Those items are used to create a page containing primary content you specify. You can either add a link to an existing menu or create a new menu from scratch.
In administrator, you go to Menus menu and Main Menu. Here appear the current items. Click the new button and enter the title together with other details such as menu item type where you select various types and sub-types. You can now save and preview it in the front end.
To create a new menu go to the administrator, Menus menu and Menu Manager. Here you can see sample menus or the default one. Click new, enter a name and a menu type together with a description. Next, save and close and you will see your new menu. Now you can create a menu item as in the previous case we made.
What are Modules and How They Work?
Modules are managed in administrator at extensions and module manager. Here you can see the list of modules and you can create a new module using the new button. There are multiple module types. However to create a menu module you need to click menu. Next, you should enter a title in the select menu you should select the proper menu, look at the dropdown menu from right representing position. You need to choose the proper position and then save and close.
Secondary content is modules in Joomla. Templates include positions. Modules are assigned to these positions. Positions can have multiple modules. Template developers provide a map for each available position. Using this map you can choose the proper position for your module.
If you want to create a widget module for your sidebar, you need to choose custom HTML as module type. Enter the title and your custom HTML. Also, select the position and you can write other content or set up other options. Save and now you can see the front end your module.
If you select the tab menu assignment at the module editor you can select where the module should appear: on all pages by default, no pages, only on the pages selected or on all pages except those selected. You can choose either option.
In module manager, you can change the position of modules which are displayed in the same position. Drag and drop the item to your desired position.
Uploading and Managing Images
It is important to know image size before uploading them to your website. Most of them can be very large and you should resize images before creating content.
Go to an article and edit it in order to add a new image. You can use the image icon in your WYSIWYG editor, but you need to know where the image is located, else click the image button below the text editor. Here you can scroll down and click the button choose files and select your image. Next, you should start upload and wait until it is uploaded. Now select the image and click insert. The image is added to your content and you only need to save and close.
You can position your image where you want using the drag and drop button and also use the image uploader you can align or set other options such as image title and image description.
You can also upload images through FTP especially if you have a lot of them. You need to upload them to the proper website folder named: images.
You can upload a lot of imaged also through administrator, content and ad media manager. Here you press upload and you can select multiple files at once. You can also create a new folder, delete or navigate using the left panel.
Customize Your Joomla website with Beautiful Templates
You can manage templates at extensions and template manager. You can see a list of installed templates. Some of them are administrator other are site templates. The first ones are for backend while the last one are for the frontend. The activated template has a yellow star. Just press the star you want in order to change the activated template.
To find Joomla templates you can either find them using Google or you can purchase high quality designs from websites like ThemeForest.
There are three different methods to install a template:
- Installing a quick start package where the package contains all the Joomla file together with the template file. This is only useful if you did not installed Joomla yet.
- Installing the template on itself is the best method and you just install the template.
- Installing the template with some support files.
To install a template you need to select the correct version usually the bundle one for framework templates. Go to extensions and extension manager. Click the upload package file tab. Choose the file button select the zip file of your template and upload and install it. Once it uploaded you will need to make it default.
You can click on a template title in order to go to advanced tab and modify the options available for the specific template. You may have template color, background color, and logo and so on.
From template manager, click the options button on the top right. In this windows change preview module positions to enabled. Save and close and now go to the front end of your website. Now add to your URL /index.php?tp=1. This way you can have the map position for your modules.
Using Extensions to Extend Functionality
Extensions can offer you new features for your Joomla website. There are 5 types of extensions:
- Components are like applications. These often offer complex functionality and examples include a photo gallery, an online shop or a membership website. As components offer multiple features, they might have some pages within the menu and as each component has a different function, the way you work with one can be different to the way you work with another.
- Modules are the second type of extensions which provide secondary content such as search box, newsletters, random image, and random videos and so on.
- Plugins add content to a page or a content item. They are two types of plugins. Those who are working in the background of the page such as Google Analytics tracking code or those who can be activated through an article
- Templates are extending the design and the functionality of a Joomla website.
- Languages are used if you want to create a multi-lingual site, but they don’t translate the custom content from an article for example.
You need to be sure that extensions have the proper compatibility version with your Joomla. Also, you should check reviews and stars. Also, take a look at commercial or free extensions.
Entering on an extension page you can see additional information, also, you can see a demo sometimes.
To install an extension, you need to find it, download it, and extract the content if it is necessary. Install it and configure it.
Now you know the basics of Joomla 3. I highly recommend using it to create your website, because Joomla is a reliable and flexible software used by thousands of websites world wide. To use Joomla at its full power, I recommend getting a reliable hosting service. Start building your website without the need of hiring a designer or web developer.
Start Your Joomla Website!
We highly recommend InMotion Hosting for getting started with Joomla and grow your website at enterprise level.