Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Joomla! Installation
Joomla! (Yes, the official name has an exclamation point) is a content management system that Blue Water Media has embraced and began using for several projects and websites. Joomla! allows our clients to make updates to their site as easily and without advanced knowledge of HTML or programming. Being the resident expert and Joomla! trainer here at Blue Water Media, I would like to discuss a few tips that will help you get the most out of your installation of Joomla!. Listed below are some of the most useful resources, tips, plugins, and some advice from my experience using the content management system.
While Joomla! is designed to allow you to update your site as easily as possible, it doesn't hurt to learn some basics of HTML and CSS. Knowing some basic HTML and CSS can help you accomplish some tasks more quickly and sometimes can provide the ability to accomplish tasks that aren't supported by the content management system. Again, this knowledge isn't necessary for Joomla! but, for advanced users, this can really broaden your possibilities. Below are links to resources you can use to learn more about Joomla! and help improve your site!
- Official Joomla! Documentation - This is as good a place as any to start. This is the official Joomla! documentation which provides information on almost every nook and cranny
- W3 Schools - This is a great resource for learning the basics of most major areas of web design, including HTML and CSS. HTML is the basic structure of most websites and typically controls the layout of the site. CSS is basically what allows you to style content and make it pretty. They have some basic tutorials and explain what every HTML tag does. Even a great CMS can only do so much; if you want to do anything "special" you will need to learn these basics. You can access the code view of Joomla! through any content editing screen by clicking the "Edit HTML" icon.
- Joomla! Extensions - This may be getting a bit advanced but it's worth mentioning. What makes Joomla! such a powerful CMS is the fact that it's open source. What this allows is for an open community to continually develop for Joomla! and offer custom extensions. An extension can be anything as complicated from an entire shopping cart or a bulletin board to something a bit more modest such as automatic image galleries and polls. The best part about Joomla! extensions is that most are free! There are three major types of extensions:
- Components: These are the big boys when it comes to extensions. They offer essentially an entirely separate functionality like shopping carts, bulletin boards, and calendars.
- Modules: These are supplemental extensions that exist with your content. Typically these are things that would exist in a side bar, like polls and latest news.
- Plugins: Finally, these guys are used more for back-end functionality and aren't worked with directly but offer increased functionality, like alternate WYSIWYGs and the ability to use certain types of code.
Take a look at what extensions are available and if you need help with installation please contact us!
- Joomla! Tutorials - This is an amazing resources for those who may be uncomfortable working with a CMS, Joomla!, or the code directly. They provide tutorials for most everything in Joomla! and even provide animations to show you step by step what to do.
Joomla! Tips & Tricks
Here I would like to show you some tips and tricks that I have discovers through working with Joomla! over the years.
- Line breaks in content: When editing content, it's easy to make a new paragraph by just hitting enter, but if all you want is a line break, hit shift-enter.
- Copying content from Word: One of the first things I mention when training clients on how to use their new Joomla! site is if they are going to copy and paste from Microsoft Word or another rich text editor... don't. The reason for this is most rich text editors, especially Word, like to add hidden code behind that content that will get included inside the Joomla! WYSIWYG editor which can break sites very quickly. This happens because your browser is trying to decipher code meant only for Word and gets really confused. If you insist on working on word directly here are some suggestions:
- Copy and paste into a plain text editor, like Notepad. Then copy and paste into Joomla!
- With most of our sites, we install an alternate WYSIWYG called JCE. This offers some more advanced functionality over the default one, including a "Paste from Word" option. Paste from Word into that window and it will do its best to clear out all that extra code. It's not always 100% perfect but it does do a pretty good job most of the time.
- Putting an email address on a page: With non-Joomla! sites, we strongly recommend clients do not put their email address on a website directly as it will lead to an increase in spam. However, with Joomla! you can put in an email address in your content and it will automatically encrypt your email address so spam bots can't read it! By default, Joomla only applies this encryption to emails inside articles not modules or anything else.
The most important advice I can give you for your site, regardless of whether it's Joomla! or not, is to update it. An updated site will keep visitors coming back, help your search engine placement by showing Google your site is relevant and active, and show that you care about your business. In today's world your digital presence is as important as your physical presence. Your homepage is like a storefront and people like to window shop. If someone walks by and sees cobwebs and newspapers piled up from 2006, they're going to keep walking. So update your site and show that you care! Justin B. Evans Joomla! Training Instructor Blue Water Media, LLC.