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Absolute Beginners Guide to Joomla!

Welcome to Joomla!, a leading open-source Content Management System (or "CMS") platform. You have made a great choice to use Joomla! for your website. Joomla! is a well-tested, extensible and effective tool supported by a very active and friendly community of developers and users.

Planning Your Web Project

Before you get "your feet wet" with Joomla!, you may want to think about the bigger picture aspects of your Web site. For example, most Web site projects benefit from advance planning and defining the nature and scope of the project. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your website?
  • What is the nature and quantity of content you wish to present?
  • Who is your audience, and how do you want to interact with them?
  • What types of budgets or timetables are you working within?

Writing down these key questions and their answers will help focus your efforts and guide the decisions you make as you implement your project.

So what is Joomla!, and what can it do for my Web site?

Joomla! is a Content Management System (or "CMS") which enables easy control and editing of the content and presentation of your website. With Joomla!, you can do things like:

  • Edit the content of every page of your site through a word processor-style interface.
  • Add new pages to your site using a point-and-click interface.
  • Add images and other media through Web-based uploads.
  • Control site elements like navigation menus and page layout.

Many additional functions are available within Joomla!'s default user interface. Essentially, Joomla! removes the need to have a "geek" involved in the day-to-day management of your Web site content: If you are able to surf the Web, interact with Web-based forms and interfaces, and handle basic desktop computing tasks, you will be able to use the Joomla! interface to manage the content of your Web site.

Out-of-the-box, Joomla! provides all of the primary functions of managing Web page content. It also includes a number of specialised elements which support specific functionality, for example, end user registration, interactive polls, advertising banners, a contacts directory, and much more. Included with Joomla!'s native capabilities is an "Extensions" system which enables additional features via third-party Extensions software packages. (See for more information.)

Joomla!-powered Web sites are different from Web sites which contain manually updated, or "static," HTML files. Instead, Joomla! is a dynamic Web application. Joomla! uses a database (MySQL) to store all of the content and information about your site, and it uses a programming language (PHP) to power its interactive functionality and dynamic Web pages.

How much knowledge do I need to implement Joomla! ?

Although a low level of technical knowledge is required to use Joomla! on a day-to-day basis, you will need to know a bit more in order to install it. Joomla!'s installation process includes uploading files to a Web server via FTP, creating a new MySQL database, and then proceeding through Joomla!'s Web-based installation wizard. (Fortunately, many Web hosting companies include Web site control panels which make it easy to handle technical tasks, including adding a MySQL database, and installing Joomla!.)

Customising the structure, content and presentation of your Joomla! site involves working within Joomla!'s Web-based interfaces; if you want to significantly change the Web site design from the default templates, you will need to either install a third-party template package or create your own template out of Web-ready images and HTML, Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) and/or Javascript code.

Knowledge of the PHP programming language or programming concepts in general is not required to install, customise and administer Joomla! .

This was originally in the forum. This is its new home.

If you just want to install Joomla! now, please follow the available documentation for the installation process: 1.5 Installation Manual version 0.5

Let's make a quick review of the installation instructions provided:

  • Requirements
  • Download Joomla!
  • Upload files and create database
  • Install (Web or Manually)
  • Known Issues

After you follow the steps described above, you will probably have a functional Joomla! site. What is next? Make it your own site by adding custom features:

  • Check security
  • Look for 3rd party extensions for Joomla!
  • Subscribe to the security forums

As a general rule, minimise the use of 3rd party software. Please look first in the 3rd party black list

Now, with basic security enabled and the minimum number of 3rd party modules activated, it is time to make a support plan, yeah!

  • Backup, BACKUP, BACKUP
  • Implement an off-line version of your site for testing
  • Monitor site statistics, and keep an eye in logs