Welcome to Joomla!

John's tips to help you build a great, Joomla! powered website

  1. Welcome
  2. What is Joomla?
  3. Installing
  4. Configuring
  5. About Templates
  6. Tips and Tricks

joomla_logo_1_transparent.pngIf you are here, you are probably looking for some ideas on how to build a great Joomla based website.

Great!  I think you will find some helpful resources here to help you move forward with your project.

This all developed from my own Joomla journey, and then my efforts to collect some good Joomla resources for others who were struggling to "think like Joomla thinks."

Joomla is a wonderful piece of software. I can't believe that it is free!  But, it does take a while to understand the concepts and know where to go to customize your site so that is says and looks and behaves that way you want it to.

Because Joomla is community supported, this little site is part of my effort to give to the community.

Joomla! is an award-winning Content Management System (CMS) that helps build powerful websites and other online applications.

As an Open Source solution that is freely available to everybody. Joomla benefits from a huge development and user community (over 140,000 registered users at forum.joomla.org!) - making it a wonderful platform for building scalable collaborative websites.

You can use Joomla to build a website for your business, church, non-profit organization, blog, or your favorite hobby. Or about anything else you can think of!

Like any powerful system, it can take a little while to really learn, but easy things are easy to do!

Before you can use Joomla, or even take it for a "test drive," you've got to install it.

Joomla is not a program you install on your own computer (like a word processor).  It runs on a web server. So, to install Joomla you need access to a web server provided by a web hosting service, or your own server if you have one.

So, how do you install Joomla?  Well, there are quite a number of options.

  • Many web hosting services offer a "one-click" install using Fantastico or some other script installer.
  • You may want to install Joomla yourself by uploading the files to a webserver via FTP and setting up the database yourself.
  • You may want to get a Joomla friend or a firm to install Joomla for you.
  • You may want to install Joomla on your own computer, develop your site there and then upload to a web server.

Read the overview article on Joomla installation

How to install Joomla using "Fantastico"

Congratulations!  You have Joomla installed on a server somewhere, and you are sitting there staring at the default template, possibly with the sample data.

Now what?  What do you do next?  You are full of questions!

  • How do you create pages?
  • How do you set up your menus?
  • How do you get a picture on this crazy thing?
  • How do you arrange things on the pages?

 

Configuration Articles

 

The appearance of your Joomla website is determined primarily by your template.  And there are a lot of templates available, or you can create your own.  But generally, most people getting started with Joomla will want to take a pre-designed template, and then customize it for their own needs.

And, for many people, the template IS the website. It is what people see.  All that wonderful Joomla magic behind the scenes is plumbing.

Some templates are free.  Some are purchased.  And finding just the "right one" can be a challenge!

So, where do you find these templates? And once you get them, how to you customize them?

Joomla Templates Links

 

This applies to Joomla 1.0.13 and 1.5
Building a great looking home page is important to a Joomla site.  And, it may be one of the most difficult, depending on the purpose of your website, and the features that are built into your template.

However, let me look at one of the most basic customizations that people want to make to a site front page, and that is the number of columns that the articles appear in.

 

The default Joomla front page layout

Although this article is written about the "home page" layout, the "category blog" type of page uses the same settings and the same  layout options are used there.
The default Joomla front page shows articles as follows:

  • 1 article is shown full width
  • 2 more articles are shown, introduction only, in 2 columns

Frequently, this is not the layout that you want, and it can be frustrating to find where in Joomla these configuration options are set.

You might think that these settings would be found on the “Front Page Manager,” but you would be mistaken.  The Front Page manager is used to manage the articles that appear on the front page, but it does not allow you to change the layout of the front page.

An Important Joomla Secret

Here is a Joomla secret that you need to learn and remember: The layout options for the front page are actually controlled by the menu item that titled “Home” on the menu manager for your “Main Menu.”  That seems strange at first, that the layout of a page would be controlled by the menu manager rather than the front page manager, but that is the way Joomla does it.

The settings for a page are set by the menu item that generates the page, and Joomla uses the first menu item on the “main menu” as the “home page” of your website.  (Note, Joomla 1.5 slightly changes this.  It does not require the “home” page to be the first menu item on the “main menu.”  It allows you to select any page to be your “home” page.)

So, let me say it again:  you determine the layout of the articles on your home page through the “home” page menu item on the “Main Menu” menu manager.

Front Page Layout Options 

So, let’s look at the options available to you to control the number and layout of articles on your site front page.

Go to the menu manager for the “Main Menu.”

Click on the “Home” menu to bring up the menu editor.

On the right side of the menu you will see a number of parameters that control the page that is generated when this menu is clicked, or when the “home” page is shown.

Down a bit on the right you will see four items that you can adjust to get you the layout that you want.  

In Joomla 1.0.13, it looks like this:

ss_frontpage_options_1.gif

In Joomla 1.5, the screen looks like this:

ss_front_page_options_15.gif

Let’s take a look at what each of these options mean:

#Leading  How many articles will be shown full width?
#Intro
After the leading articles are shown, how many more articles will be shown (introduction only) in how many columns.  The columns are defined in the next item.
Columns
How many columns wide should Joomla use for these introduction only articles?

#Links

                   

After the leading articles (full article) and the introduction only articles are shown, how many more articles should have their titles shown (with a link to the article).

Once you set these options the way that you want, save your changes and check your home page.  You should see the number of articles in the layout that you want there.

Still More Choices

In addition to knowing how to arrange the articles on the front page, you often have to spend quite a bit of time working with the modules on the front page to get just the design that you want.  So, learn about module positions and configruation, and build that great Joomla front page!