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Joomla Beginners’ Guide

Joomla is an awarding-winning open source content management system used to manage and publish content online. Written in PHP & MySQL, using Object-Oriented programming techniques and software design pattern, Joomla is also a model–view–controller (MVC) Web application framework, with which you could create sophisticated add-ons that extend the power of it. The first release (v1.0.0) of Joomla is on September 16, 2005, which was a re-branded release of Mambo 4.5.2.3. Now it’s in V1.7.0, and Joomla 1.8.0 is planned for release in January 2012. Joomla now powers over 2.7% of the web sites. Their users include individuals, small & medium-sized businesses, and large organizations.

Basic Features of Joomla

Joomla comes with some basic features to help you manage the content of a web site, here are the list of them:

  • User management
  • Content Management
  • Media Management
  • Contact Management
  • Banner Management
  • Template Management

What you can use Joomla for

Joomla as a Web application framework, you could extend its capability by developing add-ons, which includes Components, Modules, and Plug-ins. Besides developing additional features by your own, there are also thousands of free add-ons or themes you could find from Joomla community. With this level of extensibility, you could use Joomla to build almost all kinds of web site, which include but not limit to:

  • Business web sites, Corporate Web sites or portals
  • Online magazines, newspapers, and publications
  • E-commerce and online reservations
  • Personal or family homepages

How to Install Joomla

There are some backgrounds you require for the installation of Joomla:

  • Website hosting: Hosting is a major part of Joomla installation. Before beginning installation, Joomla setup checks for all basic necessities like “MySQL 5.04 with best standards”, “PHP v 5.2 and related programming tools”, “Apache 1.3 and supporting applications”. Make sure your Joomla hosting has met all above features.
  • Database in MySQL: Joomla installation needs the assessing ability to MySQL database with “A host name”, “Database (DB) name”, “A standard username”, “Secured Password”
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Client – This is necessary for transferring files to server.
  • Final version of Joomla 1.7 with instructions.

Installation Process

As the first part of installation you have to transfer the installation file to the server. You can do this either by direct downloading of Joomla to server and unzip it, or by opening the installation file in your computer and copy all files to the server. Joomla is required to be unpacked to the source of the website.

After the complete transfer you have to access Joomla installation through the web browser by entering the folder location of the installation files are moved. Then you will get an installation supporting webpage.

  • Step 1: At first step, select the language for the installation. Now you have to click ‘Next’ button on the right top corner.
  • Step 2: This step involves the setup to check the system requirements for the smooth functioning of Joomla installation. In the right top corner you can see ‘Yes’ in green color for respective requirement, if all requirements are satisfied. In case of any shortcoming, a ‘No’ in red color will correspond to the unavailability. You can make appropriate corrections there before proceeding further.
  • Step 3: It holds the license installation of Joomla as it deals with the license agreement. You can simply click ‘Next’ button on the top right after checking the option.
  • Step 4: This step confirms the database management related to your website and integrates connection of your database with Joomla. You are required to enter details like Host Name, Database Type, User name, Database name, and Database prefix for the MySQL functioning you have created. The connection can be set after providing correct details. You can also change the order or the names in the Joomla table here.
  • Step 5: This step relates to the FTP configuration which can be added, if required.
  • Step 6: Finally, enter the site name, username, password, administration email id and other details. It also carries an option to install sample content.

Now Joomla is installed completely. At last, remove the installation directory and Joomla from the server by clicking “Remove Installation” button to ensure security for your site. It will prevent trespassing into your website.

How to Migrate Joomla to New Server

A Joomla website has to main components – files & folders and database. The files and folders contain all the scripts and coding stuff that works at the back-end and is required to control the outlook of a website. While the database contains all the records of a website including content, pages, and images. The migration of a Joomla website to a new server isn’t really a hectic process, however proper handling and step-following can make it a piece of cake.

Back up all the Files

First of all, login to your website through dashboard or control panel and download all the relevant files to your hard disk. You must be thinking of what program to use for this step; using FTP, FileZilla or Smart FTP would be fine. Make a proper directory such as “public_html” which is the default directory present in a server.

Database Backup

You got to have some tools and components installed on your website to make this step easy. You could use phpMyAdmin or the tools including LazyBackup or JoomlaPack. These two tools allow you to set up and download the record for relocation and also allow backups automatically. You can get backups to your email account if you use LazyBackup tool.

Export your Website

Once you have all the record with you, the next thing you have to do is to upload all the files to the new Joomla hosting by FTP in to that very server. It’s just the opposite step of the previous one so this doesn’t really take long.

Database Migration

To make this tricky step a little easier, go for the databse tool called phpMyAdmin, which would let you create a separate database and load all the previously saved record on it. The alternative way is to run MySQL commands but would take much more time than phpMyAdmin.

Updating the Configuration

Flawless configuration is a must. Make one mistake and you would be making this migration a headache for yourself. The .php files have to be configured in your website and uploaded again on the server. Each and everything including the username, password, database name, and relevant information, would be uploaded on the server. Once it’s done, you can enjoy seeing the website running on this new server.

Now change the log directories and temporary files and folders so that they can match up with the new server system. The variables that would have to be changed and updated are:

joomla-migrationbest

Test the Installation

You must be done by now, but watch out for anything that is left. Make sure the website is running properly and is allowing you to access the files or content properly, and most importantly do not forget to ensure the proper functioning of the control panel. If you are uncomfortable with it or are facing some issues, let it be fixed by some professional because a mistake done at the backend of website in the programming side can be disastrous if you are not familiar with the coding or scripting.

How To Optimize Joomla

Joomla enjoys the reputation of being one of the best content management systems with its over 30 million downloads and powering 7.5 million websites. Actually you can obtain a better performance of Joomla if you pay attention to your hosting speed, available updates, your template, time-saving extensions and plug-ins and your redundant components and elements.

Chose a Quick Hosting Provider

Speed certainly acts as the dominant standard for Joomla hosting provider. A faster server will lead to more frequent visits of your site in search engine. Consequently to chose a host with the highest uptime can help you with an optimized user experience.

Regularly Update

The most recent version of Joomla is always the best one. Every time it updates, most of bugs and issues are removed and some new features which you desire are added. Besides, make sure the extensions are updated the moment they’re accessible, because the combination of old and new one results in bad performance and possible problems. Joomla’s documentation will be very handy to help you upgrade the present version.

Pick a Simple Joomla Template

Though a Joomla template with advanced content and graphics is surely beautiful, yet it slows down the speed below par. A simple template will bring you a more prompt upload and easier optimization. Numerous choices of template must meet your needs of layout, high-performance and style.

Improve JavaScript and CSS

Turn all JavaScript and CSS files into a single file so that you can get the maximum loading speed. And there are many extensions or plug-ins available to achieve this.

Practice Reduction

Simplification is favored.

Fewer articles on the front page of the site represents less time to load and it’s the same case with internal and external links. Clear up all the unnecessary content and links on the front page. Another reduction technique is to get rid of or at least disable any plug-ins, components or modules that are not presently used.

Only if much attention is paid to the site during the initial set-up and the process of consistent monitoring and spot tests, an excellent performance of Joomla is to realize. Performance optimization follows a few tweaks to the current setup and concerns on some smaller details that may cause big lags in your uptime.

Joomla SEO Guide

Setting up and managing a website with Joomla is easy and flexible. However, when it comes to the productivity of the website, being visible on the internet becomes a priority. Search Engine Optimization [SEO] entails the techniques to boost your rankings on search engine result pages. SEO is a multi-faceted process, and one can say that it starts right the moment you start planning the website. While there are some general content-based guidelines for optimizing your website for search engines, Joomla helps you manage the technical aspect of SEO pretty easily.

Search Engine Friendly URLs

The spiders or bots which search engines use to crawl over the web were first designed in the good old days, when web pages were written in HTML, and stored with meaningful URLs. However, with Content management systems (CMSs) like Joomla, the web pages are generated on-the-fly meaning, that they have URLs like www.example.com/index.php?option=mod_content. While these URLs are necessary for features, but they aren’t crawled and indexed well by search engines. So, what is needed is a URL like www.example.com/example/this-is-my-page.html.

To have this in Joomla, you would need to install the SEF (Search Engine Friendly) Joomla extension, JoomSEF. You can find information on the installation process in Joomla’s official website. Besides this, you should also need to make sure Apache mod-rewrite module is installed in your Joomla hosting server.

Choosing a Search Engine Friendly Template

With such a variety of templates available for Joomla, one might get confused which one to choose. Certainly, if you are aiming to make some serious business from your website, buying a template would be far better option. Even hiring someone to design a template for you would be costlier, but would pay back more. However, looks are never enough. There are many beautiful flash websites, but almost invisible to search engines. Why? Because, when a spider parses through a webpage, it looks for content. If the content, however great, is wrapped with glossy templates, it won’t be indexed with the search engines.

Choose a template, which along with looking good, has enough contents visible to spiders.

Generating a Sitemap

This is crucial to increase the efficiency of spiders and crawl rates. Sometimes, owing to the design of the site, some pages are left unlinked or ‘orphaned’. Even if a spider reaches your website, it doesn’t crawl over those orphan pages. To avoid this, generate a sitemap. The Joomap component helps you generate a sitemap compliant with standard tags. Once you have this sitemap file, you can submit these to search directories. A Google webmasters tools, for example, have the option for submission of sitemaps.

Joomla Resources for Beginners

This is the first need for beginners. One cannot use the full power of Joomla without having proper tutorials and learning resource. The Joomla official website has a rich source of tutorials aimed at beginners at http://docs.joomla.org/beginners. Mastering Joomla is possible only if you take a step further and buy a book on Joomla. Books always cover details in a more comprehensive manner.

Joomla Plugin

Joomla has a large group of developers and extensions for almost any type of feature needed. Some extensions are premium, but still, very useful extensions can be found for free. Again, the Joomla website should be your first stop: http://extensions.joomla.org.

Joomla Themes

Like extensions, there are free and paid templates. If you plan to earn money from the website, it is suggested to buy a template rather than use a free one. Paid templates give more flexibility, and are often optimized for search engines. themeforest.net has a nice collection of paid templates. You could use themefores coupon to save some when purchasing themes from them.

Joomla Hosting

This is generally the final step in the web development. The web hosting plays an important role in the success of the website. One should choose Joomla hosting from companies having reputation of being reliable in terms of uptimes. For a Joomla beginner, a shared hosting is obviously the best choice, but when the website has rich features and high traffic, buying in a VPS or dedicated server is better than shared web hosting.

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