An Online Guide To Joomla
What is Joomla?
Joomla is a Content Management System - in other words, it is a piece of software which enables users to construct their own websites without needing to learn any background code or programming skills. As of March 2012 it had been downloaded 30 million times, and is thought to be the second most popular CMS in the world, after the ubiquitous WordPress. As an open source piece of software, it is free and available to all to download, and has a dedicated community of volunteers working to develop free content in order to improve and expand its capabilities.
In comparison to some other CMS software, manual installation of Joomla is, frankly, a bit of a hassle. Luckily, a number of web hosting companies offer a one click automatic installation of Joomla when you purchase a domain name from them. While some companies claim to offer free hosting, there is normally a catch - either a banner advert constantly present on your website, a charge to change domain names, or high fees for extra features. There are a number of reputable Joomla hosting sites available on the Net, charging anything from £1.99 per month to £7.99 a month, and it is - unless you are a real expert - generally a good idea to sign up with them and install Joomla automatically. As always with such deals, you are likely to get more as you pay more, so check the nature of the support you will receive and the storage limits on your account before you sign up.
The sheer size of Joomla's open source community means that it is possible to find a template to modify the appearance of your website in almost any way you can imagine. While some must be purchased, the majority are made available on open source principles, and can be found across the Web. Some 'back end' templates even exist, which modify the way that Joomla's administrator interface appears, making it easier to use and more attractive as you toil away at modifying your site's functionality.
In a similar fashion, Joomla's developer community has produced a vast array of extensions to the traditional Joomla functionality. Available modifications range from counters which display the number of visitors to your site, to significant upgrades which enable e-commerce activities and secure transactions. Joomla's administrator interface is constructed in modular style, so they are easy to 'plug in' to your website without any coding knowledge - but advanced developers can also use Joomla to create new add-ons to take the CMS in almost any direction they can imagine.
Despite its open source nature, Joomla is being used by a number of large institutions, as well as the more traditional small business and community sector. Examples include Harvard University, the intranet for financial giant Citibank, and even Burger King! The reason for the rapidly spreading influence of Joomla is its adaptability. Not only has the CMS been used for almost every conceivable purpose on the Internet already, but many of the extensions and modules which enabled those sites are available through open source principles. When this is added to Joomla's ease of use, and the vast network of independent developers who are now conversant with Joomla's capabilities, the platform can be adapted to almost any purpose. Mailing lists, e-commerce sites and download portals have all been set up using Joomla.