The mechanics of creating a Joomla! 1.5 web site

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It is one of a series of documents introducing Joomla! 1.5 and is the last of five documents about designing and creating a new web site.

The aim of this document is:-

  • to set up the 'no frills' web site using Joomla! 1.5

Who is it written for?[edit]

Everyone - who is going to set up a Joomla! site.

It is written on the assumption that you do not have much web experience.


There are five 'background' pages with essential information about different aspects of designing a site. The background is separated so that the flow of creating the site is not interrupted by asides. The documents are all aimed at helping you to understand what is going on, whether you have a large or a small site.

  1. Background: get to know the Back-end
  2. Background: controlling user access to a Joomla! Site
  3. Background: design the content - Sections and Categories
  4. Background: design appearance using Menus and Modules
  5. Background: using default Templates

If you have little experience with web sites, you will need to make more use of the background material than if you are an experienced developer. They are there to be used according to your needs.

Before you start[edit]

Give thought to content and design, as recommended in the background documents. Best practice is to have thought about the site and to have a plan of the content and design features before you create the site.

The mechanics of creating a web site[edit]

This can be done on any instance of Joomla! running Joomla! 1.5 but the detail will depend on the facilities you have available. It is useful to use 'localhost' to get familiar with the processes involved.

Using 'localhost'[edit]

This is a very good way to explore how to create new content because you can try things without doing any harm to an established site. An instance of Joomla! with no data is particularly valuable here.

Cross Reference: Another document in this series tells you how to download an instance of Joomla! on your own computer and install it both with and without sample data. Localhost installation of Joomla! on your own computer.

Login to the Back-end of your Joomla! site[edit]

You will need Super Administrator permissions.

The Template to use for the appearance of the site[edit]

  • Decide which of the Templates to use.

The examples here use JA_Purity. Joomla! ships with RHUK_Milkyway

  • Make the one you have chosen the default Template. Reminder:-

In the Back-end, use Template Manager:-

  • Pull down the menu called Extensions
Choose Template Manager

Using Template Manager you can alter the Default.

  • Click on the radio button to select one of the Templates
  • Click the Default button on the menu

To see the result of this:-

  • Click Preview
This shows the only menu on the site with the Default Template

Add some Site Modules[edit]

It is useful to add these before adding the content hierachy. The login module is essential to allow you (and anyone else) to login to the site to view any content with more than public permissions.

Cross Reference: There is more about the Site Modules here - Background:design appearance using Menus and Modules
  • Open the Module Manager
Extensions / ModuleManager


Login Module[edit]

This is needed before articles and menus can be restricted to Registered users.

This Module displays a username and password Login form. It also displays a link to retrieve a forgotten password.

  • Choose New for a new module

From the list of Site Modules displayed:-

  • Click Login option
Click Next on the Header

The Module Edit page displays

  • Leave most of the settings as they are, but enter these:-
Title - Login
Position - Left (try Right if you want to see the effect of doing this)
Menu Selection - leave this as All unless you want to have the login on selected pages.

When the person logs out, they are re-directed to the Home page. Remember these can be altered later.

You can alter a few display options - here there is some text above the login boxes.
  • Save the Module

To see the result:-

  • Click Preview

There should now be a Login displayed to the left, beneath the Menu

If User registration is enabled then the link "Create an Account" will be shown to invite Users to self-register.

Note that this is set so that visitors can create a user account for themselves. You can disable this in the User Settings of the Global Configuration screen. See Starting to manage a Joomla! site


This module displays a 'breadcrumb' trail of where you are in the menu.

Using Module Management:-

  • Choose New for a new module
Choose the Breadcrumbs type


Position: Left

Other Modules can be added later

Create the content heirachy[edit]

You should have an inital idea of what Sections and Categories you are going to use. If not - then re-visit the background on this which is Linked here. The rest of this part is about the mechanics of creating Sections and Categories, followed by Menus and Articles.

The example below takes part of a design for a sailing club web site showing how the basic information about the club could be designed in Section and Categories.

An example:
Section Category
About About the club
Find Us
How to Join

Create the Sections[edit]

In the Administrator Back-end:-

  • In Section Manager
Select New

The New Section page is displayed. Simply add the Section Title (About the Club) at this stage. The Alias is added automatically.

Create a new Section. Other options are covered in Help.

Create the Categories[edit]

In the example here, there are several Categories for this Section

  • In the Category Manager
Select New

Here you need also to enter the Section. There is only one but as more are created they are available in a pull-down list.

Creating Categories. Note that there are brief instructions about the use of the page, planned to have a list of Newsletters. Other options are covered in Help.

Here the Description allows a brief instruction about the use of the page, planned here to have a list of Newsletters.

Create Menus and some Articles[edit]


  • Nothing shows on the site until it has been linked to a Menu Item
  • Joomla! adds the Main menu to your site automatically to display the Home page.

You should already have thought about the Menu and Menu Items you are going to need. Make sure that you use names that makes sense to anyone visiting the site. If not - look again at the Background information.

In the example the Menu Items are closely related to the Categories, although not necessariily displayed in the same order or with the same names.

An aside on layouts:

  • For the blog and list layouts you do not need any articles available before you create the menu.
  • To create a Menu Item for an Article layout, you do need to have an Article to use in the Menu definition, even if it is not complete.

Plan of the Menu Items[edit]

An example of some of the menus for a site about a club
Top level Second level Type and comment
Home Default blog layout
About the Club Article layout
How to join an article with suitable information
Find the club an article with a map
Subscriptions an article with the list of how much it costs
Contacts an article with a list of contacts and details
History of the Club a blog layout with READ MORE articles
Newsletters a list layout so that more than one newsletter can be seen
Add a new Article Article Submission layout, so that people with the right permissions can add articles

Creating the Menu Items[edit]

To create a menu for an Article layout, you need to have an Article to use for the Menu definition, even if it is not complete.

  • Create Articles for any that you are going to define as having Article Layout.
You can leave them as Uncategorised as they are positioned in the right place by the menu definition. But if they really belong to a Category, then select the right one.
Cross Reference: For creating new Articles see: Hands-on how to create a new Article and Manipulating articles using the Front-end. You can also use the Article Manager in the Back-end.

In the Control Panel for the site:-

Choose Menu Manager
Find the Main Menu
Click on Menu Items for the Main Menu

There is one already there - this is the Home menu page that comes with Joomla! by default. (This can be altered but not here)

Select New

This steps through a couple of choices

Select Menu Item Type
The Menu Item Type controls how articles are displayed. This shows the one for Article Layout.
Fill in the name of the menu
Select the right article to display
Selecting the Article and other Parameters

Preview or go to the Site to see the result.

List and blog layouts[edit]

Choose the approprate layout from the first screen

The other Parameters can be altered to show fewer things in the Table Headings.

Here the Menu Item is located beneath another Menu Item, namely About the Club

Adding Articles[edit]

Most content is added after suitable Menu Items have been created.

Each site has its own policies about who creates Articles and maintains the content. One advantage of a system such as Joomla! is that Articles can be created by numerous people if they have the right permissions.

Cross Reference: for creating Articles.

Adding Users[edit]

Part of thinking about a site is to decide what kinds of users you will need to give specific permissions to. This also influences the levels of access you allowed on Sections, Catagories and Articles.

Cross Reference: for more detail about levels of permission on a Joomla! site see, Controlling user access to a Joomla! Site
  • Open the User Manager
This lists users.
  • Create a New User
Click on the New icon

The User:[new] management page allows you to enter the details. To the left you enter the name and user name, as well as selecting the Group for the user. To the right there are options for other choices, including different editors. So you can make different choices for different users. If nothing is chosen under Parameters, then the Global choices will be used.

The options available for adding a new User and selection of the right Group

  • Self-registration: Some sites allow self-registration. In other words, new users register themselves. Make sure that the default Group is Registered so that no edit permissions are given!
  • Contact management: This is beyond the scope of this document.
See Starting to manage a Joomla! site

Transfer an existing site into Joomla![edit]

Sometimes there is already some material on an existing site and it seems a good idea to use this as a basis for a Joomla! site so that the content can be managed more flexibly.

  • There is no automated way to press a button and transfer a static site into Joomla!

There are various strategies for doing this. A simple conversion is useful if you have very little content or the site has a simple structure. For the best result, it is better to re-think the design of the site and then transfer the content.

A simple conversion[edit]

Here you do not re-think the structure of the site.

A method for doing this is covered here.

  • It steps through a possible method, starting with creating new articles and copying the text from existing pages into them.
  • It does not design a content hierachy to start with.

If you do this, you can modify the site as you get to know it better. You also need to:-

  • Add users with appropriate levels of permission

Use the existing content in a newly developed Joomla! site[edit]

Here you go through the design processes suggested in these documents, just as if you were going to create a new site. But you can use the old site as an indication of the likely Sections, Categories and Menus needed. It is also helpful to know that you can create the site with a default Template but alter the tempate (or use another Template) later. Thus you would decide upon and create:-

  • Sections
  • Categories
  • Decide which Template to use
  • Decide on the Menus. You do not have to stick to simple article menus - you could have blog or list layouts for example.
  • Create Articles to match those in the existing site
  • Copy and Paste the content from the existing pages into the editor.
You may need to alter layouts and do some editing.
You will also need to import any illustrations
  • Add users with suitable permissions

This would give a site with the functionality appropriate to Joomla! from the beginning for very little extra thought and a lot less muddle and chaos. Most of the initial work would be in transferring the content should it need a lot of extra editing.

Where next?[edit]

  • There is a lot more to Joomla! than the basics - this will link to further information and concepts.

Further information[edit]

Conversion of an existing site

Copying a localhost site to a production site

You need some computing background to understand this, especially file management and using FTP. You also need to be able to login to your hosting service management site.

--Lorna Scammell January 2011