Creating a Joomla website is done in two main phases: determing the design, and installing the functionality. Joomla itself is a platform: the structure on which websites are built.
The Joomla software is freely downloadable from http://www.joomla.org. Many hosting companies are now providing an automated installation of Joomla simply by clicking a link in your site's Control Panel. That makes getting Joomla installed a quick and easy process.
Joomla includes a lot of functionality right out of the box:
- Pages: Known internally as articles, these are the basic container for your content. Joomla articles can include text, images, audio, video, and content from other parts of the site.
- Users: Joomla has a built-in multi-user component that lets you set usernames, passwords, and access levels, all without any additional cost. You can give users access to the administrative area on a limited basis with the very granular access control system.
- Menus: After you create the articles (pages), you can tie them to a menu option, or choose to view your content in category lists. This gives you the flexibility to include a lot of content without needing a menu option for every page.
- Components: These are the largest pieces of functionality included in a Joomla installation. Built-in components include Banners (ads), Contacts, Messaging, Search, and Web links. In addition, you can download free and paid components to build the site you want.
- Modules: These are the locations around the page where you can place content and functionality on a per-page basis. For example, one of the "module positions" might contain a menu, another a login box, another the footer for the page. Modules can also contain article content in a "blog-style" layout. You can also download specialized types of modules and install them into the Joomla framework.
- Plugins: These are smaller pieces of functionality that you can include in a container like an article or a module. You can also download specialized types of plugins and install them into your Joomla site.
Joomla contains a few built-in templates, but most website owners opt for templates with a little more flexibility. I can take your existing business logo and derive a color scheme to be applied to the site. By making updates to the template's Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) files, we can set up the colors, fonts, and logo you want on your site.
The template you choose determines where you can place sidebars, menus, footers, and so on. I like the templates at JoomlaShine because they have flexibility without a lot of overhead. The current version of Joomla is 3.4, so shop for templates in this category.
Joomla Extensions Directory
The Joomla Extensions Directory lists over 7,500 components, modules, and plugins you can use. The directory is organized by category, with full descriptions, links to the developer's website, and ratings from users who have actually installed, tested, and approved the extensions. Visit http://extensions.joomla.org for more information.