What is Joomla

Joomla is an amazing free web site management tool that will revolutionize your web presence and save you an enormous amount of time and money. It's not costly to setup - infact Jooma itself is free and by current estimates is used to power more than 5 million websites.

Companies such as Porsche have chosen to build their websites with Joomla, Gwyneth Paltrow selected Joomla to build her website GOOP. The  nine top Universities in the USA use Joomla to power their web portals, they include Harvard, Yale and Princeton.what-is-joomla-2

Joomla is used by large and small organizations alike, Individuals, businesses, schools and universities are chosing Joomla for its myriad of features, scalability, ease of use and cost effectiveness.

Joomla is a free, open source, website Content Management System, often abreviated to CMS.

If you are completely new to all of this then that probably doesn't enlighten very much. What you really want to know is what is CMS? And how it can help you make a website quickly and affordably?

The Joomla Content Management System can be described as software that lets you create and edit your website pages without knowing any complex code or web design techniques. (It does a whole lot more than this, but we'll get to that shortly).

Unlike a lot of software we use day to day, Joomla does not run on your own computer. Instead it is web based software and runs on a web server where it provides two functions:

  • It's a powerful, yet simple tool to manage your content
  • It delivers this content to your users at the frontend of your website.

Joomla-TrainingYour Joomla software never stops running and is working 24/7 serving content to your visitors.

You can log in to your Joomla web based software from any computer using a web browser. Once logged in as an administrator you can then create and edit webpages, check statistics, send newsletters to your users, and much, much more.

Although Joomla is fundamentally different from a program like Microsoft Word (both in it's purpose and philosophy), I still find it is the best analogy to use when describing what Joomla is to those who have never seen it in action. Joomla makes it as easy to create a web page as it is to open a word processor and create a new document.

One of the fundamental tools the Joomla CMS provides you with is a WYSIWYG editor. WYSIWYG stands for "What You See Is What You Get" and it basically consists of tools that anyone can use, with no prior web development knowledge, to create web pages in a visual manner, using drag and drop for images, buttons to align text, etc. Hence the term "What you see is what you get..."

Hopefully you can see how easy it is to manage your website content with Joomla just from looking at the WYSIWYG screenshot.
Joomla also provides almost infinte flexibility to make your website perform other tasks, from running a shopping cart to sending newsletters to all your users. This flexibility and power comes from the addition of Extensions or Plugins, and you've just seen a simple yet excellent example of a Joomla plugin in action when you clicked the WYSIWYG image above. You can pick and choose the extensions you want to add to your site depending on the functionality required.

There are literally thousands of Extensions available in the Joomla Extension Directory, many of the best ones are free and allow you to add additional functionality to your website with a few clicks. Powerful features such as shopping carts, newsletter managers, rating systems and more. The link above will take you there but don't go yet! I still have more to share with you.

Addionally Joomla Templates are also like extensions in that you can install them with a few clicks and completly change the look and feel of your site in seconds. More on this below.

We have covered briefly what Joomla is and the last thing I want  to show you is a screenshot of the main administrator control panel. Click the image to the right for more detail.

So wrapping up, how much does the shiny software seen in the screenshot to the right cost?

Absolutely nothing, yes you read that correctly, Joomla costs $0 dollars and will always be free.

What you do pay for is website hosting, costing anywhere from $5 per month upwards. This covers the cost of keeping your Joomla application and live website running 24 hours per day. You will need to pay more for hosting if you want a very high level of support, or if your website gets a lot of traffic (visitors).

If you want us to do everything for you we can install Joomla, essential plugins, a Professional Joomla template of your choice with your branding included, all for under $300.

If all this sounds to good to be true you can find more information at this Wikipedia article on Joomla, and also make some time to visit the main joomla.org website.

Now we'll look at the stuff I really love - the design of your Joomla site and what your users see on the front end - your Joomla Template.

What is a Joomla Template?

A Joomla Template is the 'look and feel' of your website. Typically it is designed and constructed in the way most other web pages are built, using HTML (Hyper Text Markupjoomla Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and a number of graphics.

The reason it is referred to as a template is that in most cases only one HTML/CSS layout is required for your entire website. Your Joomla Template becomes the basis of every page on your site. It does not matter if your website visitors see 1 page or 1000 pages, the same template will be used for all of them, Joomla will intelligently inject different content from its database into the same template to create unique web pages on the front end of your website.

When the HTML/CSS and template layout design is complete, special tags are then added to the HTML layout in the areas that content, and other integral items, will appear. These tags usually refer to what is known to the Joomla administrator as module positions.

The power of a Joomla template is in the fact that Design is kept seperate from Content. The content is all held in the database and the design is all contained within a small group of files. This is much, much, more efficient than the very old fashioned method of creating 100's of static pages where each page has various design elements that are repeated page after page. The Joomla template systems most powerful feature is the seperation of design from content, the advantages of this method include:

  • The design of your website can be changed in a matter of seconds, by simply uploading a new template, or making a change to your existing one, these changes are then reflected site wide on all your web pages. e.g. if I wanted this text to be slightly bigger I could edit my style sheet (CSS) and increase the size value, this would then be reflected accross the entire site for all content text.
  • Backing up the content on your site can be as easy as downloading a single database file - there are even Joomla extensions that will email a daily database backup automatically.
  • Content can be presented in many different ways depending on variables, e.g. you may choose to have your Joomla website display additional content to users who are registered on your site, and restrict the content seen by unregistered visitors.