Website technologies are ever-changing which would put the beginners and novice in tailspin. By the time a newbie gets to the roots of a particular technology, the world would have gone few steps ahead by leaving the newbie stuttering.
Website owners are the most confused than the web developers in choosing the right technology to develop their websites. They do not have any option but to depend on the advice of web developers. But it is desirable for the website owners also to get the basics of web development technologies just to strengthen their decision making capabilities.
Having said this let us look at the most popular website development technologies that are contemporary and current.
If you are an aspiring website owner that wants to build the most attractive but easy-to-operate online literary website or a commercial one to make few bucks or an information website that talks about obesity and diet plans, you need to opt for the most advanced and state-of-the-art technologies called Content Management Systems (CMS).
There are certain CMS tools like Joomla!, WordPress and Drupal which have garnered enough attention from the web developers and owners alike. By knowing that these are three top notch web building technologies, your work is simplified to choosing one of them. But would that really be an effortless decision?
Not at all!
You have to know the most suitable solution that works well with the scheme that you have drawn for your web venture. It should allow you to climb the ladder of future requirements with its impeccable scalability. It should support you with unbroken links, easy navigation and functionality. It must be versatile enough to integrate many third party plug-ins that would run business for you.
In this write-up we are talking about Joomla, the most popular CMS tool and would discuss in detail about it.
This is the first part of 3 part series that deals with start-to-end of Joomla CMS with an intention of helping you to build a website of your choice.
In this part you would be reading about Joomla, how to get started with Joomla and its extensions that help you in creating following type of websites:
- Social Networking/Community Website
- Photo Sharing Website
- Travel Website
- Classified Ad Portal
As described earlier, Joomla is the popular Content Management System by which you can create, edit and publish the content. You can add images, audio and video elements to the content, display and make them searchable.
Joomla is open source software and is available free. It was initially released in the year 2005 and since then to last March (2012) it was downloaded 30 million times (Source: Wikipedia). The official Joomla website alone features more than 6,000 extensions and plug-ins (both commercial and freeware). But this is not the end of story as many third-party Joomla developers are adding thousands of extensions and plug-ins every year. All these make Joomla as the most robust, feature-rich and powerful content management tool.
What Can Be Done With Joomla
Internet and websites grew together and they were reciprocating the advancement of technologies. As the speed of internet access increased so is the speed of loading a webpage. When internet embraced Web 2.0, websites have cuddled CMS.
Of late, web users became demanding and they want variety. Yes, just and pure variety that which can entice, endure and offer infotainment to them. This stipulate approach of the users has instigated the software developers to look for new postures and look beyond the then contemporary technologies like DreamWeaver, HTML and others. Their aim was to create a tool that can infuse content, image, functionality and performance – all of them into a seamless operation that can be run even by a rookie.
Joomla is one such fabulous invention and it has really turned the fortunes of many web entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. With Joomla you can do whatever you wish to do. This is no joke at all!
All you need to do is to decide about the type of website you wish to build. Is it a Social Networking or Community website or a Photo sharing website or Travel website or a Classified Ad portal? You can have any of these types or all of these or may be something else like E-Commerce. Just think of it and Joomla delivers it for you.
Joomla! CMS – The Savior Of Web Developers & Owners
The complexity that has crept into the website management made the web developers to run for their survival. Joomla is their rescuer now and might remain forever. Thanks to Joomla, web developers were successful in mixing up the two independent requirements i.e. visual presentation and data display. They got rid of the headache of cross-browser conflicts that were prevalent in the recent past. Also, web developers were able to finish the projects in less time with few clicks, little coding and bit of customization.
Website owners are the most relieved ones as the management of website has become as simple as ‘typing’ a love letter. They only needed to enter the content, set a title, add images/audio/video, select the article category and click ‘Publish’. Not only content but the management of the website, users, components, extensions, templates, languages etc. have become simple and clickable.
Essentials of Joomla
Why Joomla is the best and popular CMS?
There are many free and commercial Content Management Systems in the world but Joomla still tops the list. This is because of the essentials of the Joomla like easy-to-use, minimal learning, WYSIWYG editing, rich SEO features, thousands of templates and many others.
Joomla’s latest version can be downloaded from the official website www.joomla.org. Many plug-ins and modules too can be downloaded from this website.
Installation of Joomla can be done directly on your hosting server or can be done on a local system. It is ideal to install on a local system if you want to do lot of customization or improvisations to Joomla. Surprisingly, it is a small package of 7.6MB size but once it is unleashed (i.e. unzipping), you would be thrown into an ocean.
The minimal requirements to install Joomla include MySQL 5.0.4 or later, PHP 5.2+ scripting language, and an Apache 1.3 or later web server and Microsoft IIS 6 or above.
Alternatively, you can check the cPanel of your hosting account as most of the hosting companies are providing one-click install feature of CMS software. Before that you need to check the version as hosting companies might not keep up with the latest one.
If you have installed Joomla on your local machine now you need to upload them into the hosting server through FTP. Create your own MySQL database with unique name and password. Now you are ready to install Joomla software and do the basic settings like main configuration, license acceptance, database connection, language selection etc. Later conduct a pre-installation check which is an automated process carried out by Joomla. That is it; your Joomla website is online now.
Congratulate yourself for a while but you need to come back quickly as there are plenty of other works to be done.
1. Build a Social Networking/Community Website
So, that is your dream! A social networking website powered by Joomla. You are just few clicks away to realize the dream.
Step 1: Chose the Right Extensions:
Joomla is the richest but deepest mine of plug-ins and modules. You would find the good, bad and ugly extensions that may put on cloud nine or throw your dream in to a dust bin. No need to worry, as Joomla, once again, comes to your rescue through its ratings and reviews about each extension. Read, study and analyze them to get a firm grip on the subject and then make your pick.
Beforehand, you should strategize how and what should go in to the social networking site. Some of the key parameters that make successful social networking website are:
- Commenting or messaging
- Events (creation, invitations & registrations)
- Upload & share photos or videos
We also wish to offer little support to you with the below listing, though not exhaustive, in knowing the good extensions for building social networking/community website.
- Community Builder
Use the Joomla’s Extension Manager installer to have the basic installation of the plug-in done. Up on successful installation go to “Components” and you would now see the plug-in appearing in the drop-down. Select it and do the necessary customization of the features.
2. Build a Photo Sharing Website
One photo speaks better than thousand words.
Creating a photo gallery is as simple as clicking a photo. You have to get a good plug-in which has got stability, simple to use, free updates and more importantly it won’t disturb the security of the website.
Joomla Directory Extension has got more than 120 plug-ins for creating photo galleries and some of the most popular ones are:
- Simple Image Gallery
- Phoca Gallery
- Art Sexy Lightbox Lite
Plug-in can be installed through Joomla’s installer (Extension Manager) and the customization varies from plug-in to plug-in and hence cannot be summarized here. But it is to be noted here that customization is easy to handle as many of the options come with drop-down or with check boxes.
3. Build a Travel Website
Travel is quite lucrative and challenging business to do. A successful travel firm is the one which has got online booking facility. Building a good website is quite challenging but not impossible. There are plenty of technological advancements in website building and management that can bring some relief and the open source software like Joomla would be the best choice to try out.
Travel website needs Global Distribution System (GDS) which gets the automated updates on fares. Your Joomla plug-in should be ready to get integrated with GDS. You have to decide whether you wish to build you website with an internet booking engine or online bookable search engine. Once these basic parameters are met you can explore the following plug-ins that are currently popular amongst Joomla users.
- JMS Travel Fullsite
Use the Joomla’s Extension Manager to install the plug-in and do the customization as per the standard parameters that come along with the plug-in.
4. Build a Classified Ad Portal
Well, classifieds are not the secrets but the requests or requirements posted by millions people across the globe. Somebody are in need of house on rent while someone are looking buy a second hand guitar and someone is selling his beloved two wheeler.
Classified Ad portals bring the sellers and buyers together through their free and premium classifieds and it is a great business idea too.
If you are already have a Joomla website or want to make an exclusive classified ad portal, make use of Joomla’s plug-ins. Dig through the Joomla Extensions Directory’s Classified Ads category (you can see this under major category called Ads & Affiliates) and chose the right plug-in that has all the features that you wish to have on the website. Do not forget to consider the ratings and reviews before finalizing a plug-in.
Installation & Customization:
Once you are through with the selection of the right plug-in, download the zip file on to your local system. Login to your Joomla website’s admin panel and select Extensions Manager from Extensions Menu. Now, chose the package file that was downloaded on to your local system and click on ‘Upload & Install’ button. Joomla will extract the files and create the relevant folders on your hosting server.
Now go to the “Components” menu and you can see the installed plug-in in the drop-down. Select it and do the required customization.
That is it; your classified ads portal is ready to serve you the popularity and money as well.
In this article, we have discussed about Joomla, its essentials, how to install it on your local/hosting server etc. We have also seen in brief how Joomla can help to build any type of website and we have discussed at length on some of the website types including how to install and customize them.
In the coming parts we shall be looking further into the great features of Joomla, its outstanding code structure, frameworks and more importantly how to build other types of websites like E-Commerce, Job portal, Video sharing website etc.
So, see you soon in Part 2 and until then wishing you all the best!