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Joomla! for Beginners


Introduction to Joomla! for Beginners

As someone who has not used Joomla! before, you need to know how to get started. Maybe you have a friend or a neighbour who uses Joomla! and you want a Joomla! web site of your very own. Maybe you have a small business or a club or a community that needs a web presence, and you want to use Joomla! for that purpose. Maybe you are a seasoned Information Technology professional, but you have never Joomla! before. If so, you are just starting a very enjoyable journey and we warmly welcome you to Joomla!

What is Joomla?

Joomla! is a CMS(Content Management System) that lets you...

...make and update web pages easily.

As a simplified explanation, think of a Joomla! website dynamically bringing together three elements.

  • Your content, which is stored in a database and called articles.
  • Modules, additional pieces of special content which is also stored in a database.
  • Your template, which controls the design and presentation(fonts, colors and layout) of your content and modules.

Joomla! is the software that brings together the content and modules using the template to produce webpages dynamically. No more HTML pages to store, update, link together and then upload to your server.

Absolute Beginners Guide to Joomla!

Although you could spend a lifetime learning Joomla!, if you master the basics you will be able to make a very attractive and useful basic website in a very short time with no special technical skills.

Do you want to get started with Joomla!, but you have no idea where to begin? If so, you have come to the right place.

Installing Joomla!

Before you can begin using Joomla! you will need a working installation of Joomla! If you want your site to be available on the Internet, make sure that you have an account on a web server. For most people this means signing up with a hosting company and purchasing a domain that will serve as your site's main address.

  • If you want to test Joomla! and you haven't purchased a domain yet, you can see and experiment with a working installation at demo.joomla.org. As an added bonus, the demo site provides links for creating a working Joomla! website with a 30 day trial. (Note that the Joomla! Project receives a royalty if you choose paid hosting from that site.)
  • Already have a hosting company? Joomla! is offered by most hosting companies under "One Click Installs" (also called Auto Installers) for their customers. The "One Click Install" method offers an "instant" installation of Joomla! which is quick and easy. Follow the instructions your host provides.
  • Use the conventional method of installation. This requires you to copy the Joomla! zip file to your hosting account, unzip, create a database, and then run the installation. Complete instructions can be found at Installing Joomla. Further information can be found at Joomla! Installation Resources.
  • Install Joomla! on your own computer (without your site appearing on the Internet), you can install it using the XAMPP package. Install XAMPP and then use the "conventional method" to get your Joomla! test site working.

Learn to Use Joomla!

Once you have a working Joomla! site, you will want to start filling it with your own content and making it look just the way you want. Before doing that, it is a good idea to learn more about how to work with Joomla!. There are a number of very useful resources to help you with this.

  • Learn Joomla! terminology by browsing the Glossary.
  • Getting Started with Joomla! is a tutorial series with hands-on instructions to introduce Joomla! to people who have not previously used it. It explains techniques step by step using screenshots.
  • There is also a very nice beginners visual guide to getting started with Joomla! 1.5 here: Learn Joomla! 1.5 Fast! or also available on Scribd (PDF 1.3Mb) written by Saurabh Bhide.

Getting Support


Before You Start Creating Your Joomla! Site

Before you jump into making your own articles, categories, tags, web links, contacts, banners, and news feeds, you may want to review Planning Your Web site. There are many aspects of creating a web site to consider. For example, deciding if you want to enable Search Engine Friendly URLs and how enabling or disabling Search Engine Friendly URLs later will destroy the rankings your pages acquired with search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo.

Perhaps you already have a website. Then you should read "Converting an existing website to a Joomla! website" and learn more about converting your static website.

One of the first tasks you may want to do is to modify one of the templates that comes with Joomla! so that it displays your site name and logo.

Finally, you may want to install one or more of the thousands of extensions to Joomla!. Most Joomla! extensions are listed in the official Joomla! Extensions Directory (JED). Once you've found an extension to install, Installing an extension will tell you how to install it.

Please remember that all extensions are developed by independent developers. If you need help with a specific extension the best source will be that developer.

Getting Help in the Joomla! Forums

The Joomla! forums are the among the busiest (and most friendly) support forums in the world, and they are a great place to get help and meet other Joomla! users.

  • Before posting, check the FAQs--Frequently Asked Questions on the docs wiki.
  • Please make certain you search the Forum post first before posting a question. Nine times out of ten someone else had the same issue that you had.
  • Make sure you are posting in the right forum for your topic.
  • Be clear and specific in your request for help. Entries like “Help! It doesn’t work!” tend to get ignored. Try to explain everything that led up to your problem. Try to explain what your problem is. Be clear about what you want to happen. And, thank those who bother to help!
  • Use the Forum Post Assistant to help you provide more information and better explain your problem.
  • If your question/problem was solved, mark your thread as solved by editing the first post you made in that thread and changing the topic icon to the green check mark with a circle. You can also add [Solved] to your topic title. By doing this you allow other members who are doing searches to easily differentiate between solved and unsolved issues. This also saves the volunteers' time of having to open up solved topics.
  • As soon as you know things, start answering questions. Answering questions is one of the best ways to learn.
  • If someone helps you, say thank you and pay it forward by answering a question yourself.

Here are some quick links to specific Joomla! forums commonly used. General/New to Joomla! 3.x Questions, Joomla! 3.x Template Questions, Joomla! 3.x Extension Questions, General/New to Joomla! 2.5 Questions, Joomla! 2.5 Template Questions, and Joomla! 2.5 Extension Questions


Keep Your Joomla! Site Secure

Security is always a big concern on the web. Make sure you are using best security practices. The basic techniques on the Security Check List will get your site off to a good start in terms of security. Here is a list of more information you should read.

Joomla Security Forums

Joomla Security Feeds


Understand How Joomla! Works

You might want to learn how Joomla! is built and how its features work together.

In short, Joomla! is composed of a Framework and extensions. There are several types of extensions, each capable of performing specific tasks. Some extensions are developed as part of the Joomla! project and come with your installation. If you want to add features to your site, you can install more extensions.

You can compare this to a computer operating system, like Microsoft Windows or Linux. You don't directly use the operating system (Joomla!); you use applications (extensions) to carry out tasks. Some applications (extensions) are immediately available on your system, but can install and remove additional applications (extensions) at any time.

The Joomla! Core Features Guide scribd, written by James Ramsay describes the features (mostly the extensions) available in each download of Joomla!.