Joomla is open source CMS (content management system) which enables you to build fully functional website in just a few days with no or little technical knowledge. Site can be customized and personalized by choosing one among thousands of freely available templates (graphics designs) or extension which are provided by large open-source community. Check Joomla site for more info.
My opinion is that Joomla is complicated and hard to learn at beginning even for more IT skilled people (people who hate to read manuals, like me), but once you get used on some advanced features it's very pleasant to work with it. In this article I will summarize all my experiences in series of mini-how-to's to help other Jommla beginners.
Joomla technical features
Joomla uses MySQL database as database backend to store all web site content and php engine to render active pages, which makes it almost 100% compatible with any host provider and makes easier to perform tasks as backup, restore and moving website from one location to another as only SQL dump is needed. Media files such as images, video clips or other digital data are stored outside database in the host file system, which is perfectly ok, as it does not make any sense to store them in the database, but you should keep this in mind when making backup or restoring website powered by Joomla.
Actual content stored in the Joomla database is 'disconnected' from visual interpretation which is managed through so called templates which are consisted of style sheets and graphic elements thus allowing administrator to change visual identity of the web site in few mouse clicks what is needed to change currently used template.
Joomla is desgined as multi-user system allowing group of people to publish articles on website and to collaborate through Joomla online web interface. There is simple but effective access right system. Check-out/check-in of articles (documents) is supported as in real Document Managment System. Every user can use own preferred HTML editor online. There is also small internal messaging system. All these features makes Joomla ideal for small teams of the web admins, posters, blogger's or journalist to easily post articles and quickly organize content on the website.
Joomla can be localized and used to store web content in any language as it uses UTF-8 MySQL database. Each Joomla user can have admin interface in own custom language and frontend site can be in custom language (system messages that appear at front pages, etc..).
Web content is stored in Joomla as an article. Articles can be internally organized in the sections and categories, which is recommended method if you have lot of articles for easier tracking. Internal structure called Menu which is consist of the menu item's must be defined in order to publish article.
Menu item actually correspond to the hyperlink to Joomla article (to put it simple). Each menu item can have different type of the layouts (blog layout or front page layout for multiple articles on same page: source is category of articles), single internal article, article submission form, external link, etc..). In most cases you will use Article Layout in which you link one menu item to the one article.
Each menu correspond to the module. Modules in Joomla represent visual representation of the menu. Through modules, menu's can be placed on different positions at the web page as defined with currently used template (e.g. topmenu, left, right, etc..). With various extensions (Extended menu or Superfish), modules or menus can be highly customized (expanding menus, drop-down menu, floating menu etc..).
Menus can be hierarchically organized through sub-menus. Every module/menu can be visible all the time (at all pages) or only on some pages. Each menu item, article, menu, module, can be disabled/unpublished or enabled/published for public or only for registered users so you have full control of your website content.
- Install Joomla either from your cPanel/Webmin interface provided by your host or manually. See instructions on how to install Joomla.
- First step is to disable all unnecessary modules and to delete all sample data (if you think that you don't need it any more). From admin interface go to Extensions/Module Manager and disable all modules that are not needed (e.g. User Module, banner, newsflash, etc..) or move them in your layout as you wish (edit module and pick position: left, right, top,etc..).
- Change default Joomla website look & feel: download free templates and pick one
- Localize your Joomla if you don't want to use default English interface, download language pack from Joomla.org
- Secure your Joomla site
- Write your first article and publish, see how to create article and how to publish article
- Learn how to make backups. After every major changes or regularly make backups of your Joomla site.
- Install few extensions to improve your site such as sharing social bookmarks, comment system, etc..
- Feel free to download and used my template (used in this site): Trumba Sundown
- Good Luck and Enjoy
See list of all Joomla mini how to's from this site
Official Joomla site
Offical Joomla documentation
Official Joomla extensions