About Joomla: 5 Crucial Facts You Should Know About Joomla To Be An Effective Joomla Web DesignerAbout Joomla: 5 Crucial Facts You Should Know About Joomla To Be An Effective Joomla Web Designer

For you to become an informed Joomla web designer, there are some basic (but crucial) facts that you need to know about Joomla. This will save you a lot of trouble, disappointment and technical development problems along the way.

In this report, we will take a look at 7 of the most crucial pieces of information (and a bonus one) to help you make the best of learning how to design Joomla websites. Without much ado, here they are:

Crucial Fact #1: What is Joomla?

Joomla is a Content Management System (CMS) that is built on the PHP programming language. It is used to design and develop dynamic (interactive and changing, based on user needs and requests) websites. It uses MySQL as a database to store the site users, articles and other information needed and used by the website.

Hint: Even though, Joomla is built using the PHP programming language, you don't have to know a single line or command of PHP for you to use Joomla to design and develop interactive and sophisticated websites. You will have an added advantage over others if you already know some PHP, but don't worry, you can develop perfectly-great websites without having to write a single line of PHP code yourself. NEITHER do you need to know MySQL. You can build and launch functional Joomla websites without knowing MySQL.

Crucial Fact #2: Skills Needed to Develop Joomla Websites

There are no advanced skills needed to develop Joomla-based websites. But here are some skills that will come in handy sometimes:

· HTML: A working knowledge (even if basic) of HTML is useful especially when you want to do some custom modification of the Joomla templates. But don't worry, if your HTML skills are not nearly as great. But if you need to brush up on the fundamentals, go to http://joomlasultan.com/css-html-tutorials for a list of free resources to help you.

· CSS: Cascading Style Sheets is a form of HTML that is used to design the formatting (tables, color schemes, etc.) of your website. It is used heavily in designing your Joomla templates. But you don't need to be an expert in it to design and develop a nicely working Joomla website.

· PHP: It is great if you understand how to code in PHP. If you can't, don't worry, it is NOT necessary for you to learn it to develop Joomla websites.

· MySQL: This is the database management system that Joomla uses to store your website's content and user information in. It is great if you understand how it works. But if you don't, don't worry about it, your Joomla websites will still work in the background to make everything work seamlessly and painlessly without you having to touch the MySQL database at all.

· JavaScript: This is used to manipulate forms, CSS tags and more. You will enjoy the ride if you have a working knowledge of Javascript, but don't worry if you don't, you will be in good hands. J



Crucial Fact #3: Types of Websites You Can Design and Develop with Joomla

While with some web software (such as Wordpress, for example), you will be most likely restricted to developing only one type of website (for instance, blogs only), with Joomla, you can pretty much design and develop any type of website with varying degrees of:

· Interactivity

· Sophistication; and

· Scalability

Some of the types of websites that you can develop using Joomla, once you learn it, include (but are not limited to):

· Basic/Personal Website: You can use Joomla to design a very basic website where you post content every once in a while. You can even create your own blog using Joomla. If you look in the Joomla Extensions Directory, you are bound to find some tools to help you customize your Joomla website to make it into a blog or a simple personal website.

· Social Networks: If you have ever dreamt of developing and managing your own social network but have been held back because of your lack of proficiency in programming, you can stop worrying now. Joomla has a number of tools that can help you to plan, design, develop and manage a fully-functional social network with all the bells and whistles, including:

o Adding and connecting with friends

o Photo Galleries

o Status updates

o Groups

o Notes

o And, much more...

And, with the thousands of free tools available, you even have more tools that you can add to and make your own social network sizzle even more.

· Community Websites: Whether you just want to create a website around local news and weather reports, events and festivals, tourism and environmentalism or just a simple site where people of common interests, faith, ideas or ideologies, or locality can network with one another and keep abreast of what is going on in their city or neighborhoods, Joomla makes it very easy and free to develop such a website in hours, if not days, so that you can get it up and running without worrying about how much to pay for coding this feature or adding that capability.

· Video Portals: Youtube isn't the only video portal online, though it is currently (at the time of writing), the largest and most used. You can create your own video submission and sharing website based around your interests, needs, locality, themes, etc. The only thing stopping you is...well, you. There are many extensions (many of them free, too) for Joomla to help you develop just such a website with much ado.

· Directories: Whether it is a directory of professionals in your field of work or interest, a website directory, a directory of local businesses, etc., the tools to help you get the job done are freely available in the Joomla CMS.

· Ecommerce Websites: You can setup your own online store to sell books, electronics, furniture, downloadable software and ebooks, or just your own services. And, you can receive online payments for all these right on your website. Joomla provides the tools.

· Membership Sites: Do you have a club of common-interest people? Or, do you provide premium (aka "paid") consulting services to clients or publish expert information that others will pay for? Either way, you can use Joomla to create a fully-functioning, secure and multi-level membership site (that you can even setup with automatic membership fee billing) without worrying about doing any of the coding yourself. Just point, click and you are good to go! J

· Affiliate Sites: Do you resell other people's products online? You can setup a website to help you get more exposure, leads and sales without paying a dime in development costs for special scripts or what-have-you.

· News sites/aggregators

· [Add-Your-Own] Type of Website



Crucial Fact #4: Joomla Packaged Features and Capabilities (a.k.a Default Components)

Joomla comes pre-installed with many useful applications to help you better design, develop, manage and customize your Joomla website much more easily.

These include:

· Contact System: Joomla comes packaged with a default tool to help you create as many "Contact Us" pages as you want. You can include departments, rep names, company address, phone number and email. You can also publish a contact form on your website that visitors and users can fill out with their information and messages and send to you right from your website.

· Banner Advertising: If you plan to sell ads (whether text or graphic) on your website as a source of revenue, you will find that Joomla's banner ad management system helps you create as many ad campaigns for as many advertisers as you can take on. It also helps you to set and automatically track page impressions for each ad, etc.

· Newsfeeds: If you plan on publishing news/RSS feeds from other websites, you can also do so quickly and easily using the default Joomla RSS feed management component. You can even organize the feeds into as many categories as you want or need.

· Site Search: You don't have to install a separate site search script for your website when you use Joomla as it comes pre-installed with such a tool.

· User Management: The "User Manager" component that comes by default with Joomla helps you to create, delete and manage registered users of your website. You can even organize them into groups, each with different access privileges to your content, site features, etc.

· Content Management: With Joomla, you can arrange your content (any type of content: video, audio, articles/posts, etc.) into Sections, Categories (sub-Sections) and Articles (individual pages). You can also create as many Sections as you want, with each Section having an unlimited number of Categories and individual pages.

So, let's assume that you are creating a local community website. You can have a Section for News and another for Events. Under the News section, you can have Categories that include Business News, Cultural News, Political News, etc. And, each of these categories can have as many news articles, videos and/or news feeds as possible (or as you want). The same thing goes for your Events section which can have culture, business, education and other event types in your locality. Now, when you want to post something about the upcoming local job fair, you know exactly where to put it without confusing yourself or your local visitors.

· SEO: The Joomla "Global Configurations" component (which comes pre-installed) helps you to set up such SEO features as your site's title, meta keywords, meta descriptions, etc. so that your chances of ranking highly on the search engines becomes much higher than somebody else who is not using Joomla. The Article Manager and other components also have SEO-enabled features to help boost your website's search engine friendliness and ranking.

Crucial Fact #5: Joomla Templates

Sometimes you just want your website to look and feel differently. You can either resort to HTML, CSS and Javascript (if you are familiar with how they work) or you can just find, install and modify Joomla templates to achieve the color scheme and theme that you want for your website. In any of these cases, check to make sure that the template that you want is supported by the version of Joomla that you are using. The template descriptions usually give this information; so, check carefully.

There are a number of ways you can get Joomla templates. These include:

· Free: There are many sites from which you can download free Joomla templates. These may not be always as professional-looking as the paid ones, but they are often a great way to customize the look and feel of your Joomla website.

· Commercial Templates: You can subscribe to any of the many available Joomla template clubs that release commercial Joomla templates every month. Or, you can find and buy a package of templates that you want.

· Custom Templates: You can also hire a template designer (make sure he or she has a working knowledge of Joomla and shows you samples first) to design custom Joomla templates for your website. Just create a specification of what you want and send it to him/her. This may cost you more money than buying the commercial templates, but if it is worth it, then so be it.

To help you save time and money on searching for the perfect Joomla template, I have put together a list of the best Joomla Templates clubs and sites at http://www.joomlasultan.com/joomla-templates and at the Joomla Templates site. ). Check it out to get the list of some of the best Joomla template resources online.
by Muhammad Jalloh
References and Bibliography
If this little introduction about Joomla makes you want to learn how to design your own Joomla sites, just go ahead and download the 4-hour Joomla Video Tutorials package from http://www.JoomlaWebsitesUnleashed.com and start learning how to develop your own Joomla websites right away.
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