Joomla is the second most popular CMS in the world after WordPress. Until 2018, the platform was downloaded over 99 million times!
While it has a steeper learning curve than WordPress, it is much easier to master when compared to Drupal. So, if you are looking to create a powerful and robust website, Joomla is a great choice for a CMS!
In this Joomla tutorial for beginners, you’ll learn how to install and use Joomla. Let’s get right to it!
Introduction to Joomla
Joomla is an open-source content management system. Just like WordPress, Mambo, or Drupal, Joomla is developed under the GNU license, so everyone can use, develop, and modify Joomla for free.
Originally, this CMS was created by the core developers of Mambo. The project to create Joomla was led by Andrew Eddie, a senior programmer who is known for his work on various online platforms.
The developer community still work continuously to improve the performance and features of Joomla, especially in terms of security, speed, and feature expansions.
Broadly speaking, Joomla functions as a content management system to create professional and corporate websites.
But actually, there are a lot of things that you can do with this CMS, such as creating blogs, ecommerce websites, online forums, and e-learning websites.
Moreover, Joomla provides a large selection of free and paid templates to modify the appearance of your website. To increase the functionality, you can use modules, which are similar to plugins in WordPress.
Here are some of the key benefits of using Joomla:
- It can be used for free!
- The components and modules are available for free.
- The installation is very easy and you can set it up either online or offline.
- It has thousands of widgets and extensions that are useful for professionally developing websites.
- Excellent SEO optimization.
- A broad user community.
- Even though Joomla has a design toolkit that is both powerful and suitable for experienced users, its system is actually quite simple and user-friendly, even for beginners!
What You Need to Get Started
Creating a website with Joomla is quite similar to building a site on any other platform such as WordPress or Drupal – you are going to need reliable web hosting plan before anything else.
If you are a complete beginner, you might run into some trouble when choosing which hosting service to use. I recommend using Hostinger since it is affordable, has great uptime, offers 24-hour live support, and provides 30-days money-back guarantee!
The next thing you need is a domain name – a unique address dedicated to your website allowing anyone from around the globe to access it more easily.
Try to find a name that represents your site’s niche well and is easy to remember. Take your time coming up with a good name since a domain name will be one of the main elements of your brand.
Sometimes it can be quite frustrating trying to find an available domain that fits your niche.
All you need to do is type in a keyword to the search bar, and it will automatically show all the available options.
Note that popular subdomains such as .com, .us, .uk, etc. are rarely available for free. Luckily, Joomla does provide a free subdomain (it might not be suitable for a professional website though).
If you use the free subdomain, the name will include a second-level domain such as example.jomlaa.com.
Tutorial: How to Create a Website Using Joomla
Now that you know what Joomla is, it is time to set it up and start building your first website!
To create a website on Joomla, follow these steps:
1. Installing Joomla
Installing Joomla can be done in two different ways – you can use the auto-installer from your hosting control panel, or you can manually install it by downloading the .zip file from the official Joomla site.
Installing Joomla with Auto-Installer
Here are the steps to install Joomla using an auto-installer:
- Locate the auto-installer on your hosting control panel. In this case, I’m using Hostinger hPanel.
- Click on the Auto Installer. Hit the search box and type Joomla.
- Click on the Joomla icon, and then press Install. The installation process should only take a few minutes and you can start using Joomla right away.
Installing Joomla Manually
Not all hosting providers give you an auto-installer feature, especially if it is free and installing Joomla manually is a little more complicated than using an auto-installer. Don’t be alarmed, here are the steps on how to do it:
- Create a MySQL database for Joomla installation. Do not worry, this can be done very easily. First, you need to login to your hosting control panel and find MySQL Databases.
- After that, give a name for your MySQL database and think of a username that is easy to remember. Generate a secure password, and create a new database.
- Once that is done, your newly created database will be added to the list.
- Before proceeding to the next step, make sure that the database has all of the needed permissions. You can click on the name of your database, choose Change permissions and make sure that all the boxes are checked. Note that I am using Hostinger’s hPanel as an example. If you are using another hosting service, the process might differ.
- Download the latest version of Joomla.
- Create a new folder on your computer, give it an appropriate name (for example Upload) and extract the .zip file there.
- Now we will need to upload all the folder contents to your server. You will need to use an FTP program to upload the installation file. However, please be aware that the process to upload files on Windows and macOS is quite different. I recommend using FileZilla since it is free and works on all platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.
- Follow the installation process. When you have uploaded the file via FTP, you can access the installation page from your browser. All you need to do is follow the installation guide and your Joomla website will be ready to go!
Step 2 — Creating Your Content
To upload content to your website, go to the admin panel by clicking Access Admin on the Joomla dashboard.
Or you can use example.joomla.com/administrator URL, just make sure you use your domain name.
Step 2.1 — Creating a Post
Follow these steps to create a new post on your Joomla site:
- Go to Joomla administrator panel and click Content -> Articles -> Add New Article.
- Write and edit your article or blog post, add images, links, etc. You can format your content as much as you want.
- Click Published when finished, or Unpublished if you intend to save it as a draft.
- Do not forget to Save & Close when you are done. You can also choose Save & New if you plan to write another article right away.
Step 2.2 — Adding Joomla Components
Joomla allows you to add some special functions to enhance the quality and complexity of the website you have created. This feature is known as “Joomla Components”.
For instance, you can use a component JEvents to display custom calendar events.
You can choose and arrange these components through the Component page on Joomla’s control panel.
Step 2.3 — Creating Categories for Your Post
Tagging your posts into different categories will not only make your sitemap look cleaner but also improve the quality of SEO.
Creating categories for your posts can be done by following these steps:
- Choose the Content option in the control panel.
- Click Categories -> Add New Category.
- Name your new category. You can also add an alias and/or description. This step is completely optional, but it is recommended.
- Click Save and your new category will be ready.
Step 3 — Adding Extensions
As I have previously mentioned, Joomla has thousands of widgets and extensions that you can use. Most of them are free, however, the paid ones tend to have more features.
You can add extensions using three different methods: uploading a package file, Extension Directory, or URL.
However, in this article, I will only show you how to install extensions through the Joomla Extension Directory since it is the official repository for Joomla components, modules, and plugins.
Here is how to do it:
- Download the extension’s installer, this file usually comes as a .zip.
- Extract the .zip file and upload the content from /tmp/your-extension/ folder (note that you need to upload it via an FTP server or an SSH client).
- Click on Extensions, then choose Extension Manager -> Install from Directory.
- Name the new path in the Install Directory (for instance, /my-new-extension/).
- Click Install. The process should be done in no more than a few minutes. A message will appear when the installation is complete.
If you want to give it a try, here are some of the best Joomla extensions right now:
Whether you are building a personal website, an ecommerce platform, or even an online learning center, there is always a risk of data loss. Therefore, the first thing you need to do after your website is up and running is to create a backup schedule.
Luckily, you can use Akeeba Backup to do just that. Here are some of the best features of Akeeba Backup:
- You can create a backup or restore your data in one click.
- It allows you to manage multiple backups. You can even do it offline.
- It has customizable backup profiles.
- It uses AES 128-bit encryption algorithm that will guarantee the security of your backup data.
Akeeba is available in both free and paid versions. The free version should cover all of your backup needs for a while, but if you one day decide to go professional, you can purchase the paid version for only $57/year.
OSMap is a popular sitemap extension for Joomla. You only need to install this extension on a Joomla-based website and it will instantly create a neat XML sitemap.
Moreover, here are some other features of this amazing extension:
- It is compatible with all core extensions on Joomla.
- Will automatically create a sitemap for Google images.
- It supports all third-party extensions of content indexing.
OSMap is free to use, but it is also available as a pro version that costs $49/year.
OSDownloads allows you to store and share files on your computer or remote services, such as Google Drive, Tusfiles, Dropbox, or Amazon.
Since developing a Joomla site requires you to download plenty of files (extensions, module, etc.), this tool will come in handy to manage all of your downloads!
You can also give users access to downloaded files by leaving an active email address. This method can also be used to expand your newsletter network.
Here are some key features of OSDownload that you will need:
- Manage files with its native Joomla interface.
- Share remote files from any source, including cloud storage services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.)
- It is mobile-ready and easy to customize.
- A unique system to download files from your site.
OSDownloads is available both in the free and paid version. If you are willing to pay, this amazing extension will cost you no more than $39/year.
You can increase the loading speed of your website by using several techniques, one of which is by installing the JCH Optimize extension.
Moreover, here are some additional features of JCH Optimize:
- Combine images into CSS sprites.
- Supports import settings on CSS files.
The free version of JCH Optimize should be enough to significantly speed up your site. But if you require heavy optimization and just cannot get enough of it, the extension also offers a premium version starting from $29/year to $99/year.
When your site is already up and running, it is time to attract traffic to your website. To do this, you can practice the basic principles of SEO.
One of the best SEO extensions for Joomla is PWT SEO. Here are the reasons why:
- Real-time SEO score checks (between 0-100). You can monitor the SEO quality of all of your content and perform any necessary customization.
- Analyze everything on your page, including menus, modules, and anything that can affect your SEO quality.
- Real-time Google search review to monitor each content piece you have published.
- Keyword generator to help you find the best ones for your articles.
- 24/7 support with 48-hour response guarantee.
As you can see, PWT SEO has a lot of useful features that will surely boost your SEO quality. However, it is going to cost you some money since the extension is only available as a paid version.
It has various pricing models. The cheapest one costs $55/year while the most expensive one could cost you up to $135/year.
Step 4 — Installing a Theme
While picking out the perfect theme might be difficult, installing one is not that problematic. In fact, there are two ways to install a theme in Joomla: via the Extension page or through a /tmp folder in your control panel.
Here is a complete explanation of each step:
1. Installing Joomla Theme via Extension Page
- From your Joomla admin area, go to Extensions -> Manage -> Install.
- Click Browse for file option below or drag and drop the downloaded file into the area.
- You should see a message that the installation process was successful. However, the template needs to be activated before you can use it.
- Go back to the dashboard, you will find a list of options at the left side of the screen. Choose Template under the Configuration section.
- Click the button with a star icon located next to your template. The star will change color to orange, indicating that the template has been activated.
2. Installing Joomla Theme via cPanel
You can also install a Joomla theme via a /tmp folder through your control panel.
- First, you need to access your hosting control panel (in this example, I will still be using Hostinger hPanel). Click on File Manager.
- Make sure you are in the public_html folder, then click on the /tmp folder.
- Now, you can upload the .zip file of the template you want to use (yes, you need to download the .zip file first). Hover your mouse to the configuration options at the top of the screen, then click Upload files -> Select files.
- Click Upload. Wait until the upload process is complete. You will get a short notification when the process is done.
- Go back to the /tmp folder. You need to extract the .zip file template that you have uploaded (always make sure that you are extracting your files in /public_html/tmp).
- Go back to Joomla administrator page, then hit the Extension -> Manage -> Install. Then click Install from Folder -> Check and Install (make sure that the path is pointing to the /tmp folder in public_html).
Congratulations, your template is now ready! However, just like previously, you still need to activate the newly-installed template in the Template Manager.
Keep in mind that Joomla allows you to use more than one template. This platform gives you the flexibility to create a webpage with differently styled subpages.
Go on and experiment with the Template Manager to arrange the visual components of your site. Create a unique look for your website!
Some people say that Joomla is “the middle child” of mainstream CMS since it often is positioned between the other two popular CMSs – WordPress and Drupal.
Now that you finished this Joomla tutorial and know what Joomla is and how to create a website with it, you should have no difficulties deciding whether you want to continue using this platform.
Finally, regardless of what CMS platform you choose, building a beautiful, fully-working website does require a lot of time and effort, especially if you have no experience (or just a little) in developing a website.
That being said, building a site with Joomla is often a fun and rewarding experience. This platform is undoubtedly one of the best tools to explore. Good luck!