Out of the box Joomla might not be the most blogging-friendly CMS or at least not in the sense WordPress is. However, it’s still very easy to use Joomla for blogging. First of all during the final step of your Joomla installation you should choose the Blog English Sample Data which will set up Joomla in such a way that it looks and feels more like a blog website.
Managing Blog Posts
Let’s create our first blog post. After logging in the Joomla admin area in the top menu, choose Content, hover over Article Manager, and then select the Add New Article option. There’s quite a few things you can do with that post but I’ll focus on the basics here. Apart from actually writing the content for the post, all you need is to fill in the Title and set the category to Blog. If you don’t set the category the post won’t appear on your blog’s home page. When you’re done click the Save button located at the top left part of the screen and your post will be live. A cool option to use when you have lots of posts showing on your home page is to add a ‘Read more’ button – a helpful navigation option and it saves some space on the front page too.
I’m going to show you how to do that for every post you write. Open the post you want to add the button to by going to Content –> Article Manager. Open the article you want to edit by clicking its’ name. Now move your mouse cursor to where you’d wish to place the ‘Read more’ button. Take a look at the toolbox in the editor – you’ll see the Read More option. Click it and a red dotted line will appear in your post. If you switch to HTML view you’ll notice that Joomla has actually inserted the <hr id=”system-readmore” /> tag. Click Save and check out the home page to see your ‘read more’ button!
Removing the Header Image
Previously I showed you how to change the header in your Joomla installation but let’s say you’d like to not have it at all. You can easily do that by clicking on Extensions –> Module Manager in the admin menu. If you remember the header image is contained in an custom HTML module. We simply have to disable it. Deselect the green check box to the left of the Image module – it’s now deactivated.
Customizing the Home Page
A thing lots of people might want to do is change how many articles are shown on the home page of their blog. Joomla lets you change that with just a few clicks. Select Menus from the admin area where you’ll see a list. Click on the list item that’s marked with a yellow star and select the Advanced Options tab. We’re interested in the Blog Layout Options – click to expand it and search for the Leading Articles parameter. Change the value with the number of articles you wish to have on the front page and click save.
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You just installed Joomla on your hosting account and everything’s ready to go but you kind of want to change how things look? Customizing Joomla is easy. Before you get to modifying though, make a copy just in case something goes wrong. Log in your Joomla back-end and go to Template Manager –> Customise Template. The easy way of copying your template is to click on Copy Template in the toolbar, give it a name and that’s it. What we’ve done is create a copy of our template which we can modify and test things on see how they look, etc. When we break it and we don’t know why it doesn’t work anymore (my experience shows that’s only a matter of time, haha) we can just delete that template copy and use the original – everything is back the way it was.
Joomla comes with some default templates you can choose from and it’s pretty easy to get new ones and completely change how your site looks. There are lots of high quality resources for templates online and a big chunk of them are even free.
Getting a theme that suits your needs as is will save you the hassle of heavily modding it. And to be honest I’d be surprised if from the sea of templates available out there you can’t find a good one that does what you want it to. Of course you’d still want to make some customizations, no mater what theme you get but most people just want to change the main image of their website – also known as the header image.
The header image. Every theme comes with one and it’s usually some generic stock photo that looks nice but maybe doesn’t represent the purpose of your website all that well. Let’s change it with something else.
After you’ve logged in the administrative area go to Extensions and then select the Module Manager from the menu. You’re looking for the Image module. By default it should be at position-3 and is a Custom HTML type. Now select the Custom Output tab and you’ll be able to edit the module that contains the header image. Click on the existing image and select the Image button at the bottom of the editor.
The Media manager will pop up and you can select your new picture from there. Make sure that the size fits the width of the theme or just check how wide the current picture is and resize the new one to fit the same dimensions. Get the picture you want and hit the Save button. Your header image is now updated.
This the basic principle of working with extensions in Joomla. Most of the functionality can be managed via extensions which include the modules, plugins, templates (yes, the templates are technically extensions too), components and languages.
WordPress has some really nice features and if you don’t know how or want to deal with installing/uploading it to your host you can just use a .wordpress.com subdomain (like I’m doing here). There’s no denying that it’s convenient but there are reasons why Joomla is my favorite CMS for starting a new website that I’m serious about. WordPress has some of that functionality as well in some form either in it’s core or via plugins but I really like the way Joomla works and the things it allows me to do with a website. Sure I could probably do these same things with other content management systems but Joomla works for me and that’s what I’ll be using for the foreseeable future.
Now, let’s get to the fun part – actually setting up Joomla! If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry – it’s not that hard and I’ll try and keep the jargon to a minimum.
There are two ways to go about this:
1. Use the automated install wizard that most web hosts offer with their Joomla web hosting packages. I’m linking you here to the guys at Awardspace.com – I’ve used them with great success and they’re pretty cheap. What you do is basically just sign up for one of their plans, use the option to get a domain name if you don’t already have one and let the installer do all the leg work.
2. The other way to this is to go to http://www.joomla.org/download.html, choose a Joomla version and manually upload it to your web host. If you’re building a new website you have no reason to use the old Joomla 2.5. Just pick the new 3.3 one and save it somewhere on your PC.
You’ll need an FTP client in order to upload the Joomla files. Again you have a few choices here. You can use a desktop application like FileZilla or the web interface in your web hosting panel – either is fine. Remember to extract the Joomla files from the .zip archive first before uploading them or it won’t work.
Now once you navigate to your website you’ll have to create an account for the CMS and you’re done!
Why bother with all of this? It’s infinitely better for your website in the long run to have it on it’s own domain and web hosting you control. For example this WordPress blog I’m posting to right now could be marked as spam by someone and it could get deleted at any point without me being able to do anything. That’s why it’s best to have your website on a domain you own and a good web hosting package with it so it doesn’t go down.
Whichever option you select you’d probably be done with all of the work in 10 minutes or less. Really, installing Joomla is no different than any other CMS that uses LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) and as you can see it’s quite easy. 🙂
If you followed the instructions up till now you’ll have a functioning Joomla website ready to fill up with content or whatever you want to do with it. Now it’s only a matter of customizing it to your tastes.