Within this post, you will be learning how Joomla works and the interesting features it has a CMS (Content Management System)
You will also get to understand the essential steps to take to build a Joomla website from beginning to end as well as how to customize it properly.
With this information, you will be well-equipped to create your very own Joomla website and know how to run it smoothly.
Let’s jump right in.
An Overview of Joomla!
Joomla is among the top 5 most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world.
A content management system is just as it sounds. It is a system that allows you to build and manage your website, especially the content and other essential functionalities without needing to have a background in website development and programming.
What it does is, it gives you the software that allows you to click on a few buttons that are beginner-friendly in order to create your website and get to run it without having to hire technical skills from a coding expert.
Joomla is a competitor of WordPress and if you have had the chance to use WordPress before to build a website, then you should know that the basic concept of usage and purpose is the same as Joomla’s.
Joomla is an open-source system meaning other developers and designers get to contribute to its development by creating website templates or themes, plugins, and other functionalities that help you, as the user, to have more resources to manage your website.
Joomla is used by millions of people to run their websites. It is not only used by individuals who want to get their blogs and small websites up and running but also by businesses and large corporations.
You can use it to create a business website, online magazine, e-commerce websites, organizational websites including government websites and non-profit business websites as well as intranets, extranets, and corporate websites.
Some of the features that Joomla users love about it include user-friendliness, having the ability to work with it using multiple languages, being search engine optimized, and responsive.
It is also a good place for beginners to build and maintain their websites as well as advanced website developers to create and manage advanced systems and websites for various purposes.
How to Build a Joomla Website (The Actual Steps)
Before we get into the website building process, it is always important to be sure about two key things in website building. These are your niche and the type of website you want to set up.
You will need to plan before and decide the niche your website will be targeting so that you know what topics to address on your website.
Also, having made a choice on the type of website you intend to create is critical as it will help give you the plan of how to approach website creation and which resources to get for that website.
It is also worth noting that, just like building websites with WordPress, there are 2 ways to build a website with Joomla.
1. By creating a website within Joomla using their website builder
2. By downloading Joomla and creating a website that is based on Joomla CMS with another website builder.
We will be taking a look at both ways.
1. Creating a website within Joomla using their website builder
Here are the steps you should take:
Step 1. Go to www.joomla.org
Step 2. Click on “Use Joomla”. This allows you to construct a fully functional website using launch.joomla.org within the Joomla website builder for free.
Step 3. Choose your domain name. A domain name is what makes the name of your website and what also forms part of the website address (the website address is also called the URL such as www.yourdomainname.com). So here, you want to come up with a good domain name that you want to be used to identify with your website.
If you are building a personal blog, you can use your first name and the name of the niche you will be basing your blog on. For instance, you can call it “Jane’s Pastry” if your name is Jane and the blog is going to be about pastry.
If you are building a business website, you should use the same name as the business name to be your domain name.
Since I am building a simple website that is based on magic and cool stuff, I will use “wizadryxpress” as my domain name.
Mostly, you get to buy a domain name that has the name you want with a .com or .tv or a .net ending so that you own the domain name entirely and get to renew it every year.
However, you can also use free domain names that come with the extension of the company that gave you the domain name to show that the domain name is free and you don’t really have any rights to it. But you can use it as long as you want, provided you run the website under the company that gave you the domain name.
The good thing with Joomla is that you get to have the second scenario. You will get a free domain name with a .joomla.com extension.
So using the name I chose as my domain name, “WizadryXpress”, the whole domain name that I will get to use for free will be www.wizadryxpress.joomla.com
Step 4. Agree to the terms and services. Read the terms and services and see if they favor you and what you wish to create and then agree to them by checking the terms and services box. Check the second box too if you also want to help Joomla with their provider’s marketing campaign. And then click the “Launch Now” button.
Step 5. Register your account with Joomla. After hitting the “Launch Now” button, you will be prompted to create your account in Joomla so that you can have your website linked to your account for easy management. You have 4 registration options. You can use Facebook, Google, Twitter, or register manually by giving your personal details.
Step 6. Your website has been created!
Step 7. Upon the creation of your website by the builder, you will then be taken to the backend dashboard of your Joomla account to see where you can manage your newly built website.
Step 8. Understanding the Joomla dashboard. You will need to look around the dashboard so that you can get yourself acquainted with it for easy use. Essentially, what this dashboard is like a platform that allows you to see your Joomla websites and get to manage them there. It also gives you links to various aspects of your Joomla account to help you with managing your account.
You can click through some features there and get to see what they do. You can also do a Google or YouTube search to better understand other important areas that are key to you within the dashboard. Getting to know the dashboard sooner will make the work simple for you as you work on your website.
You may also note a pop-up window that aims at helping you keep building the kind of website you look forward to building. And within this pop-up, you will be asked if you want to talk to a specialist about your website needs so that you can be guided accordingly on how to go about things.
I highly recommend talking to the specialist, especially if you want to build a heavy system or you are a total beginner and you want to be helped with a lot of website-related issues.
Step 9. Login to the website backend dashboard for website administration. Now there is a difference between the Joomla dashboard and the website backend dashboard. The Joomla dashboard, that we have looked at in the previous section, allows you to manage your Joomla account while your website backend dashboard helps you manage your website related aspects.
To login to the website backend dashboard, you will just need to click on the “Login” button on the far right corner of the section where your domain name is, within the Joomla dashboard. This will take you to the dashboard that will give you different links to different areas of your website so that you can improve if you want, or see the settings that have been made on the various features of your website.
If you want to see how the website you built minutes ago looks like, you can click on the domain name in the Joomla dashboard, and you will be taken to a new page that shows you how your visitors will see the website.
2. By downloading Joomla and using another website builder
Here are the steps involved in using the Joomla CMS to create a website on another website builder:
Step 1. Get a domain name. Unlike the previous method where you get to use a free Joomla domain name, here you will need to buy your domain name where you will get all the rights to it. This is where in my case, instead of getting the domain name, WizadryXpress.joomla.com, I will get www.wizardryxpress.com or .net or .blog or any ending I find good for my website.
To get a domain name, you should go to renowned domain sellers or domain registers like domain.com, SiteRubix, HostGator, Bluehost, GoDaddy, DreamHost, or NameCheap in order to purchase and register your domain name.
Step 2. Get website hosting for your website. The next thing you need to get after the domain name is web hosting services. These services will help you be able to run your website smoothly and manage it without issues. Web hosting services usually vary with the kind of website you want to create as well as the resources you need for the website.
Since you are building a Joomla website, the first thing you should be sure of is that the web hosting service you settle for is Joomla supported. Then you also want to be sure if it offers the resources you need for your website type. The good thing is, most of the domain registrars mentioned in the previous step also offer web hosting. So you can choose to use their web hosting services or get the services elsewhere.
Some of the best web hosting services include SiteGround, BlueHost, DreamHost, HostGator, Siterubix, and Hostinger.
Go ahead and look for the web hosting services that offer what you need for your website and get a subscription plan from them that best suits you.
If you buy hosting from a different place other than where you bought the domain name, you will need to link the two so that the domain name reflects on the website you create in the web hosting platform. To do that, you will copy the web hosting servers provided by your web hosting service company and paste them to your domain name servers in your account.
Step 3. Download Joomla. To use the Joomla CMS, you will have to download it first and upload it to the place where you will be building your website. So you first go to www.joomla.org and then click on the “Download Joomla” button. You will then see some various options for the type of Joomla website you can build, and you will choose the options that best fit your case. After that, click on “Download”.
The download will get started and it will be saved to your computer.
Step 4. Upload Joomla. You will now need to upload Joomla to your web host so that you can go ahead and build your website. Most web hosts offer a one-click installation of Joomla, so you may not need to download and upload it if you have such a web host. However, if you don’t, just follow the process and you will get it done very easily.
Just go to your web host account, and look for the button that allows you to install and use Joomla there and then follow the steps provided to upload it to your account.
If you have any problems with that, you can always read the Joomla Documentation or use Joomla training videos to learn how to do it for your particular case, or you can contact your website hosting customer service to take you through it.
Step 5. You now have a website in place!
After uploading Joomla, you will now have a Joomla ready for you to work on. And there, you can further develop it by creating content or customize it to suit your needs.
In the next section, we will look at how you can customize your website.
Customizing Your Joomla Website
Whether you have a free or self-hosted Joomla website, you might require to change a few things here and there in order to make it look and work the way you want it to.
It is advisable if you have a free website, you use it for a few days or weeks and then consider buying yourself a domain name that will give you all the rights to the website. Otherwise, the website may be taken by Joomla and your efforts will be wasted.
Also, with a free website, you are limited in terms of the changes you can make on the website. So to get past that, owning your domain name may a wise move especially if you want to be serious with the website.
When it comes to customization, there are 2 types. The first is basic customization and the other one is advanced customization.
Basic customization involves the simple changes you make on your website to make it a bit personal and better looking. Here are the customizations you should make here.
– Updating your website template. A template, also known as a website theme, simply refers to what defines your website look and design. It helps structure your website so you want to have a good template that is simple to use for the readers and also looks good. There are free and premium themes that come with various options for websites.
So you can go to Joomla template sellers such as Joomdev, SiteGround, and Joomlart and choose the type of template you want for your website and then upload it to your website backend and activate it so that it reflects on your website.
The factors you want to keep in mind when choosing a reliable Joomla template are good customer support to help when you have issues with the template, beautiful design that supports your vision for the website, ability to make customizations to the template, availability of template documentation to guide you on how to use the template on your website, being mobile-friendly and compatibility with Joomla updates.
– Updating your homepage. Having a well-designed homepage that gives a brief description of your website is also of importance. And while there are many ways you can customize your homepage, the basic yet classy homepage look can have 3 sections. The first section can have a brief text summary of what your website does. The second section can have a few blog posts to feature what your blog section looks like, if you have one, and drop a link to your blog section. The third section can then have the office address of your website or a summary of your bio. You can also add other extra sections to fit other areas you may have tackled on your website.
– Adding new pages. Your website requires the foundational pages that help show the visitors that your website is professional. These pages include a contact page, about page, homepage, and then any other pages you may need for your niche. To add pages in Joomla, you go to your website backend dashboard, then to “content” and then “Add new article”.
You will then write the content of the page and when you are done, click on the “Publish” button to add it to your website.
This type of customization involves some technical aspects of your website which might sound a bit difficult but quite easy if you know what to do and why you do it. Here are the things you do in advanced customization.
– Adding plugins. Plugins in Joomla are the same as plugins in WordPress. They are features that add extra functionality to your website to help you carry out tasks on your website such as speeding up your website, doing site backups, adding an online store, and others. To add plugins to your Joomla website, you first have to download the plugin to your computer and then upload, install, and enable it on your website. It is also recommended that you read the instructions that come with each plugin so that you are able to make the best use of it.
– Adding categories. Categories in Joomla are quite important as they not only help you organize your content and have easy access to it but also help you know where to find certain components in your website backend dashboard such as the news feed, banners, weblinks, and contacts. You can use categories to help you organize your content. You can also have subcategories to help you further organize items in a category. For instance, you can have a category named “Animals” and then within that category, have a subcategory called “domestic animals” and “wild animals”. As you add more content and other features to your website, it helps you organize them so that you have an easy time managing them.
– Adding menus. If you want items that are well arranged on your website, menus are a good functionality to use. There are different types of menus you can work with on your website. The menu that goes to the top of your website is usually referred to as the primary menu or the top menu. You can also have other menus and give them names according to their use on your website. For example, you can have a menu on your sidebar and in the footer section. When you have a lot of content or features on your website, you can create a menu and add the items in there for the sake of neatness and minimizing confusion and tediousness.
– Adding featured items. You can also add featured items on your website that lets you display the items such as articles and give them priority on the site. To do this in Joomla, you will add a single item as a featured item or create a featured items menu and add them to be featured in there.
– Adding modules. Modules in Joomla are somewhat tiny extensions you find around a page or a component such as the latest news, that allow you to display certain aspects of your website to website visitors. The login functionality is an example of a module and you can choose to display it on certain pages of your site and hide it on others. Modules not only hold components but also plain text or even HTML code. You can also link the module to other areas of your website. There is a lot of flexibility for you with modules to help you achieve specific tasks on your site.
NOTE: The good thing with Joomla is that they are dedicated to creating easy to work with tutorials for doing almost anything you want on a Joomla website. So if you want to make any changes or customizations to your website that are very specific, you should use Joomla documentation or search for the type of customization you want and add “in Joomla” at the end, using Google. For example, if you want to know how Joomla extensions work, just search this in Google “Extensions in Joomla”. And then choose the result that comes from docs.joomla.org. You will get accurate results there.
Success Tips For Your Joomla Website
Here are some tips to help you have a seamless website maintenance process with your site.
* Back up your website – Having a backup of your website with you is always a good idea so that you can restore it when anything bad happens like hacking or site breakdown. While most website hosting services offer automatic full backups for your website, it doesn’t hurt having a personal backup in your external hard drive or somewhere else. You can back up your website manually using Joomla documentation or using Joomla extensions known for backup such as Akeeba.
* Boost your website speed – If you want to improve the user experience of your website so that visitors have fast loading speeds when visiting your website, you should consider increasing the website speed using methods such as reducing large media files on your site and using cache plugins like Page Cache, among others.
* Work with SEO – SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which helps a website rank in the top positions of popular search engines like Google and Bing. This in turn helps your website have more exposure and ultimately more visitors. There are web hosting services like HostGator that include SEO packages in the subscription plans, and you can use them. Alternatively, you can hire a skilled SEO expert from freelance websites to help you with that.
* Constantly grow your website – Regardless of the type of website you will build with Joomla, always aim at improving and growing the website as often as you can. The only way it will grow and become the kind of website you envisioned for it before you started, is by working on it on a frequent basis.
* Evolve your website – As you keep growing your website, ensure that you are always updating your homepage, menus and categories. It is easy to get lost in the content creation process or technical development of your site and forget to update other aspects. Strike a good balance in all areas and when you make changes, make sure they reflect on all areas of your website so that it is consistent, neat, and professional.
And that is all you need to build, run and maintain a Joomla website.
I hope you found this walkthrough useful.
If there are any areas you need more explanation on or have any Joomla related questions, shoot them in the comments section and I will get back to you the soonest.
Over to you now.
Let us know the type of Joomla website you want to build and your goals for it.
All the best with your website. 🙂