- Category: Gradient Pixels Blog
- Published on Sunday, 05 August 2012
If you are new to the content management system idea, I will help you prepare a small step-by-step guide so you can see if it's the right thing to do and how to do it easily. We will focus on the popular Joomla cms because by far, it's a very powerful option to consider.
Is Joomla Right for You?
The very first question to ask oneself is Joomla right for me? I can write a super long story of the pro's and con's of Joomla, but I will leave that for another article because it can be a hard decision to determine if you will benefit from Joomla. To begin, I will give you some things to think about if Joomla is right for your website:
- If you need a cms without having to be an experienced developer (programmer) to create your own template;
- If you need a cms that doesn't require you to know how the core framework functions to build your site;
- If you need a flexible cms that lets you build almost any kind of website with ease;
- If you need more than just a blog website, or perhaps a website that incorporates a blog;
- If you need a good selection of quality extensions (plugins, scripts, components, modules (or widgets), etc) that provide an easy setup;
- If you need long-term scalability - being able to easily add, remove, or update functions and features without risking conflicts;
- If you need long-term compatibility between extensions, content, and the cms;
- If you need a solid community for help and information;
- If you need a good source of professionally designed templates with emphasis on creative styles and not cookie-cutter or plain designs;
- If you need a cms that gets regular updates to ensure ongoing improvements and security is paramount;
- If you need a ton of options.
This is list of things to consider is a good starting point, and if you answer yes or agree with most, if not all, then Joomla is a good solution for you.
What About WordPress?
Again, I will write another article about the pro's and con's of Joomla but will also write one about WordPress, because WordPress is a very popular cms. However, I see so many websites that talk about WordPress is so great and how it's better than Joomla, etc., etc., etc., that people often get mislead by what is said.
The problem with most of these articles that compares both is that it's like comparing apples to oranges. For the record, both WordPress and Joomla are very popular and it's the truth that WordPress has the biggest market, but there is a very good reason for this...WordPress is a "Blogging" platform and became very popular when blogs started to grow exponentially. Joomla, on the other hand, started as a full cms from an open source project known as Mambo, but was not focused on the blogging market.
A big topic for both, but for WordPress, this was developed for the "blogging" market and created to provide nothing more than just writing journal based content, so it was kept somewhat simple to install and use. It really was not meant for creating full websites other than a blog, but somewhere in the last couple of years, this seems to be changing with theme developers. Officially, WordPress is a blogging cms that specializes in the creation and management of blogs - both business and personal.
For those who insist on using WordPress for a larger more complex website, be prepared to hire a developer if you need anything special from functionality to design because WordPress is not for the faint at heart when it comes to customization. You literally need to know how the core structure of WordPress works and php knowledge is a must; if not, then you need to hire a developer. In a sense, to customize WordPress, you need to be more of a developer than a designer, whereas with Joomla, it's kind of the opposite...although with Joomla, some templating knowledge will help.
How to Start With Joomla!
As I mentioned earlier, everything has a learning curve; doesn't matter what it is. The list below should give you a good start:
- Explore the Joomla! website http://www.joomla.org and all that it offers
- Explore the extensions directory http://extensions.joomla.org and see the 1000's of options you can easily add into your website with a couple mouse clicks
- Explore the community forums
- Setup a development site for you to play and learn Joomla! I recommend downloading XAMPP (a personal server setup that goes on your computer) and then install Joomla 1.6.x
- Explore the admin area - it's big with lots of functions and features, but depending on your site, you probably won't need it all but explore the full admin area.
- Explore the HELP section in the admin as this provides you with a lot of information with clear visual screenshots
- Create a forum user account at Joomla.org so when you have questions and need help, you have a good community to guide you
- Start off with downloading a template that you like from any of the Joomla template websites (do a google search); there are many so explore them all before deciding as some are good and some are not so good.
- A word about template frameworks, try to avoid these for now until you get comfortable with Joomla! Some frameworks are: Gantry, T3, Morph...
You may decide that Joomla is too much for you, which is ok because there are other options to consider as well, like Drupal, Expression Engine, and many more. Although I use Joomla for the Gradient Pixels website, it may not be for everyone which is why I decided to write this Joomla tutorial and guide to help you find out if it is or isn't. Remember that Joomla can run almost any kind of websites, even a simple blog, but ideally, it's developed to manage more complex websites while keeping it easy to customize without having extensive development or programming knowledge, compared to other cms solutions.