Maybe you and your business have outgrown what a website builder can do or you sat down and figured what your website needs to do for your business. Either way, you concluded you need more than what a website builder can offer. Chances are, you’ve heard of the widely known management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Drupal.
Joomla is also an open source CMS, also with roots from the early 2000s. Joomla is the second most popular CMS after WordPress. According to Builtwith, Joomla powers around 2% of websites.
Similar to the open source CMS WordPress, you also need to first organise your domain name and hosting before you can create and launch your site. You’re also fully responsible for security and maintenance. This also means you have full freedom over
- Your design
Pros and cons of Joomla
As an open source CMS, Joomla is free to download and use, but you still need to factor in hosting and registrar costs, as well as design and development or paid plugins and templates. It offers sophisticated user management and multi-lingual support.
- Open source software so that you only need to take into account hosting and registrar costs
- Granular user management both for the frontend and backend
- Multi-lingual support
- Highly customisable templates
- Open source, so you need to take care of everything
- Complexity means there’s a learning curve
- You need time to set up everything
Who is Joomla for?
If you’re not averse to coding or can hire a developer, Joomla gives you a ton of flexibility both for how to manage your users and for displaying content. This means you can create all kinds of websites with Joomla such as:
- Community site
- Network with membership area
- Online shops
- Company intranet site
Thanks to its community of developers it has a myriad of paid and free plugins and templates. Joomla can best live out its potential in medium to large projects. For simple sites with static pages or landing pages, there are more apt tools that let you built such projects quickly and easily.
How easy is Joomla to use?
When it comes to how easy it is to use Joomla or its complexity, it sits in the middle of uncomplicated WordPress and intricate Drupal. If you want to try it out before you install it on your hosting provider, you can launch it via launch.joomla.org.
If you’re not too concerned about the customisation or aesthetics, you can start adding content immediately. On the surface, it’s straightforward to use, with a clean and uncluttered interface. You can get a “not fancy, regular” website up and running that looks good and is mobile-ready in a matter of hours.
Joomla uses Articles and Categories to organise your site. The primary content type is an article. If you need different kinds of content for your site, you need to create Categories. Creating articles is straightforward with the What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor.
To display content, you need to attach the articles to a menu so that they can be displayed on the frontend. Joomla uses Modules to position content in different positions on a page. This allows you to write an article and re-use it for different purposes such as re-using a blog past for an event without the need to rewrite it.
Joomla takes user management seriously and so you can have finely set permissions for your users for the frontend and backend. You can offer traditional website visitors access as
- Registered users for protected content
As for the backend, you can give your team members different roles
- Super Administrator
With this many roles for the frontend and backend, Joomla has a different interface for each of them.
Design and templates
Contrary to WordPress, there’s now official template library. That is, you won’t find an integrated dashboard catalogue. But Google is your friend.
If you want to change how your site appears to visitors, you need to change the frontend template. Just as with user management, Joomla differentiates between frontend and backend templates. Its template system is very versatile and functional, you can adapt the template to your needs if you know how to code. The default template is mobile-ready out of the gates.
How easy is managing your ecommerce store with Joomla?
Ecommerce functionality is seen more and more what a website needs to have and less of a luxury. To get this feature, you need to install a plugin. As you see in the extension section, there are many options to add ecommerce functionality to your site. You’ll find familiar shopping carts, that you can add via a plugin to your site.
The plugins extend what Joomla can do out of the box. In the extension section of joomla.org, you’ll find its catalogue, neatly categorised into action such as Photos, Social Web, Communication, and much more.
What marketing tools does Joomla provide?
With the help of extensions, you can add analytics and tracking or other marketing tools you need.
If you’re keen on optimising your site for search engines, Joomla has SEO built right into it. You can add metadata such as a meta description or keywords to your articles. If you need more SEO options, you can always install a plugin.
Since Joomla organises content with Articles and Categories, you can just create categories for your blog and then write the articles. If you want to have a comments section, just add a comments plugin. Of course, you can also just install an extension to have the blogging function.
Payment options are either part of the shopping cart extension or you can also them with a separate plugin.
Since Joomla is open source, you’re responsible for protecting your website. There are numerous extensions with which you can secure and limit access to your site. The codebase itself is well maintained so it’s up to you to keep up with maintenance and optimisation.
Even if you can’t expect customer support from open source software, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge and self-help resources such as the forum and the documentation.
To run Joomla, you need to have a reliable hoster and a domain name. The software itself is open source, translate free of charge, but you need to factor in costs for templates and plugins or a developer.
Is Joomla the right solution for you?
If you have all sorts of visitors coming to your site that can all see different content and or work with many different people, Joomla’s granular way of managing users will seem like a godsend to you.
But Joomla comes with some strings attached. Even if you can build a site without any coding knowledge, having basic tech skills will help you customise Joomla to your needs.
If you find WordPress too limiting but Drupal intimidates you, Joomla sits in the middle. It’s a good place to start if your site is content-heavy and has a lot of multimedia.
As a word of caution, even though Joomla comes in second after WordPress, its market share is declining which isn’t the case for either WordPress or Drupal.
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