Websites are becoming more and more essential to the everyday person as time goes on. Whether you just want to showcase your personal writing or run a full-fledged business, using a content management system is the easiest, most effective way to get yourself on the web. This article focuses on installing the open source CMS, Joomla!, and getting your website live.
reload the page a couple of times to make sure all of the images
want to start your own
website. Awesome! If you’ve been worrying that it will be insanely
difficult then you can take a deep sigh of relief because it isn’t that
bad. It just takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. Unless you
want to use a program like Adobe Dreamweaver to hand code your website
(which is NOT easy!), your best bet is to use a content management
system (CMS). A content management system is kind of like an operating
system that makes adminstration of a web site much easier. It takes out
all of the technical know-how so that you only need to know a minimal
amount of HTML, CSS, PHP, Flash, etc. This guide is aimed at teaching
you how to start a website using the CMS Joomla!, but many of the steps
will apply to other CMS’s (like Drupal) as well. Joomla! is 100% free
and extremely powerful, so you won’t regret using it.
What You’ll Need
- A computer – It doesn’t need to be a top of the line
system, but it will help if you have a computer, or laptop, with at
- Pentium IV processor or equivalent
- 512 mb of ram
- graphics card with 64 mb of ram.
- Apple computers will work great too so long as you have at least a PowerPC G4 with 1 GB of ram.
photo editing software, such as Adobe Fireworks CS3 and Photoshop CS3
are pretty intensive and the above requirements are bare minimum for
running them.  If your website is going to have a focus on video and
multimedia then you might consider getting a computer with an Intel or
AMD dual core processor and a couple gigabytes of ram.
- Administrating a website requires a lot of time on the internet. A
56k modem is simply
not going to cut it unless you have the patience of a saint. Also, slow
internet speeds could ruin your business/reputation if you don’t have
fast access to the site. Cable,
DSL, T1, and so on are highly recommended.
- A Host
- A web host is basically a company that will allocate part of their
servers and bandwidth so that your site can exist. You can also
register your domain name using these web host providers. A domain name
is the address people will type into their web browsers when they want
to visit your site. For instance, “http://www.google.com” is a domain
name. Registering your domain name should be the easiest part, since it
is usually the first option a web host provider will offer you.
do not recommend trying to find a free web host service. If you are
serious about having a website then you should pay the price for good,
quality service. Your website will be able to handle more visitors this
way and you’ll be less likely to run out of server space. Personally I
have had wonderful experiences with Dreamhost and I know people who have liked GoDaddy. There are many other options, though. You can investigate Bluehost, Yahoo!, or Hostmonster just to name a few.
The host does
more than just give you space and bandwidth. They also provide you with
MySQL, which is a database management system.  Joomla! requires a database to run, so you must make sure your host will provide you with MySQL.
you have a speedy computer with a blazing fast
internet connection that you are willing to leave on 24/7 365 days a
year, then you will be able to host your website from home. I would not
recommend this route but I have met people who run their own web
servers. It will make things more stressful since you have to make sure
the computer is always on (or else your website dies!) but it can be an
educational experience. It is also a lot harder. To build your own web
server for Joomla! you should download and install LAMP on the computer you plan on using. Here are instructions on how to get LAMP running: http://www.sph.umich.edu/csg/abecasis/LAMP/download/.
- FTP Program – If you don’t already have one, then
you’ll have to download a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program. There
is no need to pay money. Filezilla is an open source (free!)
software that will allow you to upload/download data to and from your
website’s server. You can download Filezilla here for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. If you would prefer trying something else, and you have an Apple computer, then you can try Cyberduck, OneButton FTP, or Fugu, which are all open source. Windows users looking for an alternative to Filezilla can download WinSCP for free.
- Joomla! – This is the content management system you’ll be using. Download the newest version here.
- File Compression Software
- While using Joomla! you are going to encounter files that are
compressed in a wide variety of ways. Windows does not come with the
built-in capability to open all of these files and folders. This is why
you should download 7-Zip, which is open source.
If you are using an Apple computer then download this.
- Image Editing Software
- If you have the money you can buy either Adobe Photoshop CS3 or Adobe
Fireworks CS3. I prefer Fireworks because it is specifically made for
creating and editing web images and is slightly easier to use than
Photoshop. If you don’t have the money for either of these programs
then you can download GiMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) here
for free. It does many of the same things Photoshop and Fireworks can
do. If you are looking for something a little bit easier to use then
you can download Paint.NET, which is also free.
If you have an Apple computer then you can download the open source program Seashore, which is based on GiMP.
Step 1: Uploading Joomla!
Filezilla is installed to your computer, open it up. In the top left of
Filezilla you will see a little icon with two computers on it. Click on
‘site manager’ window should open. Click on ‘New Site’ and give it a
name (the name you choose doesn’t really matter). Now type in the host
address given to you by your web hosting provider in the entry next to
‘Host:’. This is usually something like mydomainname.yahoo.com or
host.godaddy.com. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific but you will have
to find this information out by logging into your web host control
panel (something like Dreamhost’s panel) and browsing around. If worst comes to worst, you can send your provider an email asking about your host address.
will have to enter in your FTP username and password. This is usually
given to you by the web host provider or something you can easily set
up from your web host control panel. Now press ‘Connect’.
the information you entered is correct you should see a lot of green
lines up at the top telling you that the connection was a success.
you should unzip the Joomla! folder that you downloaded into a new
folder. Open up the new folder and select all of the Joomla contents by
dragging your mouse until everything is highlighted. Now drag the
contents over to your Filezilla window, but make sure that you drag
everything into the folder named after the domain name you bought. You
should see a lot of activity at the top of Filezilla, meaning Joomla!
is being uploaded to your web server.
Step 2: Setting up a Database
part can be a bit tricky. You’re going to have to set up a database,
then create a user name and password that can access that database.
Each web hosting provider has a different control panel, so it is going
to be up to you to find the section where you can set up a new
database. You might have to use a MySQL tool that is separate from your
main control panel, such as phpMyAdmin. The easiest way to figure all
this out is to search ‘create database’ in the help section of your web
host provider’s web page, or just click around on all the links in your
control panel until you find it. Write down the name of the database,
user name, and password you create because you are going to need this
To be safe, you should check the
user permissions before moving on to make sure that you will have full
access to the database you’ve made.
You might also
be able to create a host name. If you can… do it! If you can’t create
a host name then look around the control panel or search google to see
what the default host name is for your web host provider. Once you have
a host name, write it down.
Step 3: Installing Joomla!
Once Filezilla has stopped uploading the Joomla! folders to your web server, open up your web browser and visit your domain.
You should see a screen like the one above. Choose your language from the list provided and press ‘Next’ at the top right.
next screen will tell you whether or not you have all the right
settings to install Joomla! to your server. If there is a ‘no’ at the
top of the screen you won’t be able to proceed until you address the
problem. If there is something you want to change but don’t know how,
you can search the Joomla! forum or help section of your web host provider’s web page for an answer. When you are ready press ‘Next’ two times.
agreeing to the Joomla! license you will see this screen. Keep the
database type set to ‘mysql’. Remember the information you wrote down?
Use it to type in the host name, user name, password, and database name
that you created. Press ‘Next’. If it failed– don’t worry. Just retype
all the information and try again. If it still did not work then you
probably have an invalid host name. It should be something like
“localhost.yourdomainname.com” or “mysql.yourdomainname.com”, where
‘yourdomainname’ is whatever your website is called. If these don’t
work then you should use Google to try and find information about mysql
database host names in relation to your specific web host provider.
The next screen will give you the ability to enter FTP information.
This is not mandatory, but may prove helpful if you ever install
special FTP extensions in Joomla!. You can try to enter the same exact
FTP user and FTP password that you used to set up Filezilla. If it
works– good. If it does not work– don’t worry about it. Click ‘Next’.
almost done. The first text entry box allows you to name your site.
This name will show up at the very top of some internet web browsers
like Firefox and Internet Explorer. The second set of text entry boxes
allow you to set up a default email for visitors of your site to
contact you with. This account can be with Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.
You also have to choose a password that you will log in to Joomla!
with. Make it something you will easily remember and write it down just
The next section will give you the ability
to install sample data to your website. This is basically articles,
pictures, etc. to give you a better feel for Joomla!. It isn’t
necessary and can be a bit annoying to have. I would recommend that you
do not press the ‘Install Sample Data’. When you are ready press ‘next’.
must now open up Filezilla and log into your web server. Click on the
directory where Joomla! is installed and then search for the folder
called ‘installation’. Click on it and then press the ‘Delete’ button
on your keyboard. Make sure that the ‘installation’ folder is
completely gone but be careful that you do not erase anything other
than that. Deleting the folder might take a few minutes.
Congratulations! You’ve installed Joomla!.
Step 4: Installing Your Joomla! Template
that the installation folder is deleted from your web server you’ll
want to type in your website address followed by the word
administrator. For instance, if your domain is
http://www.myawesomepage.com, then you should type in
http://www.myawesomepage.com/administrator at the top of your web
should see a web page like this one. Type ‘admin’ as your username, and
then type the password you created in the last step of the Joomla!
screen should look like the snapshot above. This is your Joomla!
control panel, or the main hub where you will do all of your web site
administration. This may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but it will
become second hand once you learn how everything works.
you actually begin to publish articles, you should work on the look of
your website. Joomla! makes it easy to apply all kinds of different
looks to your site by the way of templates, also called themes. Themes
are things you can download and install into Joomla! that will give
your website its aesthetics. My favorite place to find Joomla! templates is at a site called Rockettheme. They offer extremely professional looking templates that come with many bonus features. Demos of these can be found here.
It only costs $75 for a one year subscription to download as many
themes as you’d like, or $50 for a three month subscription. This is
nothing when you consider that some companies will pay many thousands
of dollars for web page design. You are not limited to Rockettheme, as
there are many companies that offer Joomla! themes. You may even be
able to find a free one that you like.
Here is a list of Joomla! template providers:
you have downloaded a template, go to your Joomla! control panel and
highlight the word ‘Extensions’ at the top. A drop down menu should
appear. Click Install/Uninstall.
are now in the extension manager. This is where you will be able to
install and uninstall ‘extensions’, which come in form of components,
modules, plugins, languages, and templates. Right now we are focusing
on templates. Click the button that says ‘Browse’, which will cause an
explorer window to open. Navigate to the template that you downloaded
and double click it. Once it is selected, click the button that says
‘Upload File & Install’. It may take some time but you should
hopefully see a screen telling you that the template was successfully
go to the ‘Extensions’ menu again and click ‘Template Manager’. When
you see a screen like the one above, select the template you’ve
installed and then click the ‘Default’ button at the top. This will
apply the template to your entire website.
Step 5: Editing and Creating Logos
may have a template installed, but it does not mean that your site is
personalized yet. You’re going to have to create some logos. The
easiest way to do this is to open up Filezilla, connect to your web
server, and navigate to the folder in which your Joomla! is installed.
Scroll down until you see a folder called ‘Templates’ and open it. Now
open up the folder named after the template you’ve installed on your
site. Look for a folder called ‘images’ and open it. Now you have to
try and find any logos or images that you want to edit. There will
usually be at least two things that you’ll want to edit. Drag these
images from Filezilla to your computer’s desktop.
Now open these images in your photo editing software.
is a logo that I made for a Joomla! powered website. As you can see, I
used Foreworks CS3. Any image manipulation software will do the trick
though. Just play around with the menus and tools and pretty soon you
should have some new images. IMPORTANT!!! : Make sure you save your
edited images with the same exact name and in the same exact format as
you downloaded them in. For instance, if the file you got from
Filezilla says logo.png then you must save the work you do in your
photo editing software as ‘photo’ and in png format.
you are ready, open up Filezilla, navigate to your template again and
open up the images folder. You’re going to overwrite the images you’ve
changed. Drag your new personalized logo and whatnot over into
Filezilla. If you did everything right you should see a prompt asking
whether or not you want to overwrite the files. Click yes. If you did
not get a prompt, then you probably did not name your images correctly
or save them in the right file format.
that your images are uploaded to the server your webpage should be
updated. You may need to clear your cache or reload your site a couple
of times before you see the new images.
Step 6: Articles — Sections, Categories, WYSIWYG, and Pictures
that we’ve taken care of extraneous matters, its time to get to the heart of your website. By this, of course, I mean content. Joomla lets you publish ‘articles’ through a hierarchy
system. Before you write anything you’re going to have to set up your
sections and categories.
Log into your Joomla! control panel and click on the button that says ‘Section Manager’.
click the large button near the top that says ‘New’. You’re going to
create a ‘section’ that will house different categories. The title of
this ‘section’ might be something like Sports, Art, or My Writing. It
should be a broad term so it can encompass different categories. The
alias of the section does not really matter since it is a term only you
will see. You don’t necessarily need a description. When you’re done
press the ‘Save’ button up at the top.
many categories as you want. When you are done use the ‘Site’ menu to
go back to the control panel. Now click ‘Category Manager’.
categories is a lot like creating sections. You will be able to put the
category under a section. For instance, if your section is called ‘art’
then you might make a category called ‘Pastel Paintings’.
Once you’ve saved your categories, head back to the control panel.
now going to practice uploading installing extensions. You’re going to
install the Joomla! Content Editor which makes writing content for your
web site much easier. Go here and download the JCE Admin Component. Now go here and
download the JCE Editor Plugin. Once you have both of these things,
navigate to the Extension ‘Install/Uninstall’ page in your Joomla!. Now
install both the component and plugin just like you installed your
template. You should see messages after each one telling you that the
installation was successful.
Now go to the the word ‘Site’ at the top and click the
word ‘Global Configuration’ in the drop down menu, or just click the
‘Global Configuration’ icon on the control panel. Where is says
‘Default WYSIWYG Editor’ you should select JCE. Now click ‘Save’.
While you are in the ‘Global Configuration’ you can
change yout ‘Global Site Meta Description’ and ‘Global Site Meta
Keywords’. These are the things that search engines sometimes use when
scanning your website. Make these things relative to what your website
is going to be about. Do NOT write stuff just because you think it will
make your website more popular. When you are done click ‘Save’ and head back to the control panel.
Click the button on the control panel that says ‘Add
New Article’. You can now write something for your website. Give the article a name and alias. Choose the appropriate section and category. You can decide if you want the article to immediately be published and whether you want it on the front page. In the WYSIWYG area you will have
many of the same options that word processing software gives you, like
the ability to change fonts, styles, boldness, etc.
If you want to add a picture to your article then click this , which will take you to the JCE Image Manager.
Once you are in the image manager, click the ‘upload’ icon, shown in the picture above. Now click ‘Add File’. Navigate to the picture you want to add to your article and double click it. Now click ‘Upload’. Once the upload is complete you can press the X in the top right of that window.
Select the picture you uploaded to the JCE Image Manager and press the ‘Insert’ button. Your picture should now be placed into the article you are writing. You can now re-size this picture by clicking on it and dragging at the corners.
Once your article is finished click ‘Save’ at the top.
You’ll now be taken to the ‘Article Manager’, where all your articles are accessible for editing or deleting.
Step 7: Menus
The articles you write won’t be of much use to anyone if they can’t see them. This is where menus come into play. Go to the ‘Menus’ drop down menu and select the one that says ‘Main Menu’. You should see something like the picture above. Click the button at the top that says ‘New’.
You’ll be presented with a list that lets you select ‘Menu Item Type’. Click on the word ‘Articles’. You’ll have a number of choices. If you want people to see all the articles you write for a section then you would choose ‘Section Blog Layout’, or if you want them to see all the articles in a certain category then you would choose ‘Category Blog Layout’. There are many possibilites but for now you should just choose ‘Section Blog Layout’.
Name the option you want to appear in the main menu of your site. It is probably best to name it after the section or category you’re linking to. For example, I am linking to my section called Sports which is why I’m going to name this menu item ‘Sports’. Where it says ‘Parent Item’ is where you’ll be able to choose the hierarchy of the menu item. For example, I want this section blog layout to be a main menu link so I will leave the word ‘Top’ highlighted. Later I might create a category blog layout called ‘Football’ and choose my parent item to be ‘Sports’. When you are done choosing the various options for your menu item, press ‘Save’.
Now click the word ‘Preview’ up at the top of your Joomla!. It should open up a new web browser window with your website. You should see your new menu item in the main menu of your site. Click on it and you should see the article that you wrote.
The world of Joomla! is very large and exciting. This was just a brief introduction to help you on your feet. Now it is up to you to explore all the things Joomla! lets you do. I recommend you check out all of the extensions that people make to help enchance websites and user experience. Some are free while others will cost money. Work hard on your website, keeping in mind that content is king, and you’ll be getting hits in no time. Good luck!