Joomla is one of the most popular amongst free open source content management systems available on the Internet. And it’s no wonder, because it not only doesn’t require coding and programming knowledge, but has everything one needs in order to create a dynamic, interactive and vibrant website.
Joomla website is based on a modular principle much like Lego where multiple extensions, components, modules and plugins are its building blocks. All you do is combine them in various configurations and fill up with data, and thereby make up your Joomla website layout and its content. Let’s take a look at 10 easy steps to get going in setting up your first Joomla website:
1) Download the full package of Joomla latest version from Joomla official website. Make sure your hosing account configuration meets the software requirements listed at Joomla technical requirements page.
2) Unzip the downloaded package files into an empty folder and then upload them from the folder via FTP onto your domain placing them in the public directory.
3) Set up a MySQL database which will house your Joomla information.
4) Type in your website URL into the browser address bar and load the page. Joomla installation panel will come up. Follow instructions from ‘Installation’ chapter of the manual available at this Installation Manual. Right after completing the installation we advise to create the database backup copy in case the installation gets corrupt, so that it could be restored quickly through the database. On ‘step 6: Configuration‘ do not install sample data and you end up with a clean Joomla page.
5) Log in to your newly installed Joomla admin panel at http://yourdomainname/administrator. It’s a good idea to get rid of some of the Joomla factory content remnants. We start by going to Extensions -> Module Manager, checkmarking 3 active modules and clicking ‘Trash’ button. Then we select ‘Trashed’ from ‘Select Status’ drop-down menu, once again checkmark the deleted items and purge them by clicking ‘Empty trash’ button. We will get rid from the default menu after completing the next 2 steps.
However prior to that we can modify some of the default theme settings to reflect our personal data. We go to Extensions -> Theme Manager and click Beez2 – Default in the Style column. In the right panel we can set our own logo image in the ‘Logo’ field. If it’s left empty, the data from the ‘Site Title’ field will appear on the site. Likewise we can define our personal ‘Site Description’ value and click ‘Save & Close’ button to commit the edits.
6) Let’s set up a custom menu which suits our future site. On the admin panel upper menu click Menus -> Menu Manager -> Add New Menu. We title it ‘Top Menu’, assign it the ‘top menu’ menu type and click ‘Save & Close’ button. A Joomla menu is made visible on the site by menu module, therefore we have to associate one with the newly created menu. We go to Extension -> Module Manager -> New, select ‘Menu’ option from the list and fill in its parameters: title it ‘Top Menu’ and position it at ‘position-1′ selectable from the list. In the ‘Basic Options’ to the right we make sure that ‘Top Menu’ in selected in ‘Select Menu’ option and click ‘Save & Close’ button.
7) At this point we only have an invisible menu since it doesn’t yet feature the actual navigation buttons. In Joomla before a menu button can be activated it should be linked to a certain content type. Since we’re going to create simple pages with text, this will be our primary content type which in Joomla is called ‘Article’. Let’s create the first page. First we must create a category under which the article will appear. We go to Content -> Category Manager -> Add New Category. Set its title to ‘top menu’ and click ‘Save & Close’ button.
One category can be used for as many articles as you wish. Now we go to Content -> Article Manager -> Add New Article. Name it ‘Main’, make sure it’s assigned to the ‘top menu’ we just created, place some content in the ‘Article Text’ field and click ‘Save & Close’ button. Now we go to Menus -> Top Menu -> Add New Menu Item. In the ‘Menu Item Type’ option we select ‘Single Article’, name the item ‘Main’ and ascertain that in ‘Menu Location’ option ‘Top Menu’ is selected, ‘Default Page’ option is checked. Now in the ‘Required Settings’ to the right select Main article from the list to link it to this menu item, then click ‘Save & Close’ button. This is the basic algorithm for creation of any page and associated menu item. After this operation you will notice that in the Menu Items list our item star in the ‘Home’ column is lit signifying the page being the website default page. At this point we can delete the default Home page. Once the default Home page is purged from the Trash, from the Menus we can delete the default ‘Main Menu’ as well purging it from Trash afterwards. From Content -> Category Manager we delete and purge the article default category ‘Uncategorised’.
8) Let’s now set up a News page placing several articles on a single page. First we create a minimum of two articles (News 1 and News 2) as described in the paragraph 7. Assign it to the same ‘top menu’ category. Then we add a ‘News’ menu item to the Top Menu. This time in the ‘Menu Item Type’ option we select ‘Featured Articles’ and in the ‘Layout Options’ to the right highlight ‘top menu’ option, ‘# Columns’ value is set to 2, so the articles are displayed next to each other. The remaining settings are the same. Now we need our two news articles to display on the News page. At this stage we make them featured as required by the selected ‘Menu Item Type’. We go to Content -> Article Manager and double click the grayed out ‘Featured’ buttons next to the news articles in the table, so that the buttons turned blue indicating change of the article status to ‘featured’.
9) Now let’s create a Contact Us page. First we create a new ‘contact’ category under Components -> Contacts -> Categories -> New. Then we create a contact form under Components -> Contacts -> Contacts -> New. In the new item settings we make sure that the name and category fields are filled out. We link the contact form component to the category ‘contact’ we just created and name it Contact form. We set ‘Show’ in its right settings block ‘Show Contact Form’ option and finally click ‘Save & Close’. Then in order to link the contact form to the menu we go to the Menus -> My Menu -> Add New Menu Item. In the ‘Menu Item Type’ option we select ‘Single Contact’, in the ‘Required Settings’ to the right we select the Contact form we created earlier. Name this menu item Contact Us, set its ‘Menu Location’ option to My Menu and click ‘Save & Close’.
Please take into consideration that the tutorial is based on Joomla v 2.5
10) If you’re not too fond of web design in spite of all its joys, you always have an option of falling back to using Joomla templates which can be easily found in spades on the Web. Examine the multitude of Joomla templates, choose any theme which layout you particularly like, install it, activate and here you are! Before deciding to use a particular template make absolutely sure that it’s compliant with your installed version of Joomla. Commercial templates vendors provide support and extensive documentation so you won’t encounter any difficulties in setting up your Joomla website.
Below you’ll find selected Joomla templates which demonstrate a wide variety of existing styles and concepts to choose from:
If you’ve got a rock band or would like to set up a hot news portal download this fancy Joomla template
Light and clean style, full of air and brave simplicity – it’s all about the template above
Stylish and neat portfolio Joomla template is an ideal option for sophisticated artists
5-image full size slide-show, convenient navigation and friendly design lure viewers eyes
Simlicity is geniusness! It makes it easy to navigate through such a website and find all necessary info at once
Another cool Joomla theme with a smart photo-gallery will help you present your talent online
Clean-style Joomla theme suitable for both serious online business and personal page
This easy-to-use and to edit Joomla theme is not only beautiful, but feature-rich and flexible
Light and unconstrained layout of this magazine-like theme makes it look modern and still unpretentious
Being designed without any frills, this Joomla theme presents a stylish combination of colors, styles and forms
And finally, one more killer portfolio Joomla theme which may perfectly serve as a personal page as well
As you can see Joomla offers a great mass of possibilities and features, making it possible to create quite complex content structures and captivating visuals. Of course our 10 tips hardly cover even 1/10 the enormous capabilities Joomla platform has in store. However we hope that they will give you an idea of what it’s capable of and a headstart to delve into Joomla depths being driven by the quest for a truly unique, appealing, highly interactive and user friendly website.
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