What is Joomla?
Free, easy-to-use, and customizable. Joomla provides you with a multitude of site-building options and is available with most hosting plans.
Joomla as a Popular CMS
Think WordPress is the only game in town when it comes to content management systems (CMS)? Sure, it's pretty popular, mostly because it's so user-friendly. But even WordPress has its limitations.
That's where Joomla comes in. A powerful yet easy-to-use open source software CMS, Joomla's advanced options allow for extensive customization. This makes it popular amongst web publishers, businesses, and developers.
Managing E-Commerce Sites with Joomla
Need to manage your e-commerce site? Joomla can do it. Want to build a catalog of the products you sell? Try Joomla. Ready to try a custom reservation system for your restaurant? Get Joomla. It can do all these things and much more.
For the most part, though, and for most website publishers, Joomla is a convenient CMS. From personal websites and blogs to corporate sites, Joomla can handle pretty much whatever you throw at it.
The CMS isn't just for internet-accessible websites, though. It can also be used to build company intranets that help employees stay in touch and informed.
Various Top Hosts Support Joomla
The key to using Joomla to build your site is to find a host that supports it. This is not a difficult undertaking. Many hosts make Joomla available via the majority of their hosting plans. It does install a bit differently than WordPress does.
Joomla is available as a script you can install on your site with just a click. The best part? It's free. Joomla (or, to give it its full name, 'Joomla!') is one of many applications dished out to web hosting customers for free.
An Ideal CMS for Developers
It actually goes one stage further: Joomla can be used as the basis for web applications as well. In addition to being a CMS, it is also a web application framework. The two components of Joomla can be used together or separately.
Joomla is ideal for the development of portals, blogs, and corporate websites. It can also be developed into an e-commerce platform, an application bridge, or a dynamic web application. Developers can extend the default features and code custom parts in PHP and MySQL.
History of Joomla
Joomla was launched in 2005 as a fork from the now-defunct Mambo CMS. New releases are scheduled every six months.
A Globally Popular Open Source Software Application
The software is open source and freely distributable under the GNU General Public License. Like many other open source tools, it relies on the support of a network of developers who continue to innovate and breathe life into the software. To date, the software has been downloaded more than 50 million times.
Having an open source software application can be beneficial for both the business and its end users. Check out the brief below for some specifics:
|Business Benefits||Issues and flaws in security are diagnosed and dealt with quickly||No strict corporate or vendor guidelines to follow||The more developers, the more errors spotted||Better collective teamwork amongst development team||Ability to interact with users directly|
|User Benefits||Potential security matters are dealt with faster than average||User visions can be catered for and advice can be taken on-board||Fewer issues in terms of features and usability||Thousands of developers to trust and rely on||Instant support from IT professionals rather than agents|
|Overall Industry Quality||Competent||High||High||High||Above Average|
Joomla vs WordPress - Not Better, but Different
Many people compare Joomla to WordPress, but the two applications fulfill different purposes. Joomla is based on a traditional 'model, view, controller' (MVC) architecture.
This supports the interactive controls and interfaces that users see. The MVC framework can be used without the CMS system. Joomla is enhanced using extensions, which are discussed further down on this page.
Joomla can also be installed as a one-click install via Softaculous.
5 Types of Joomla Extensions
There are currently thousands of extensions available in the official Joomla Extension Directory (JED), and this includes a mixture of free and commercial extensions.
Many developers host extensions elsewhere, so the actual number is far higher. Not all extensions are compatible with all versions of Joomla, as you would expect. The extensions for Joomla are split into five categories according to their purpose:
Components are packages of functions responsible for creating large areas of the web page and are therefore larger than other extensions. Look at them as site architecture tools.
Modules are a group of lightweight extensions, used for rendering page content. Typically, modules appear as 'boxes' around the content.
Unlike the general use of plugins in WordPress, Joomla plug-ins are different. They specifically serve as an executor of events, such as triggered events. These are able to execute events in sequence.
Extensions that control how the site looks (as they do in WordPress and other systems). From Joomla 3 onwards, templates are and have been responsive. The use of templates makes site design easier for novices.
Language extensions within Joomla handle translations, general site languages, and information of various fonts. Especially for multi-language and international sites, language extensions are vital.
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How to Deploy Joomla
Joomla is designed to work with Linux, Apache, PHP, and MySQL - otherwise known as LAMP.
Recommended Specifications and Server
A Linux server is, therefore, the best option, although Joomla can also be installed on Windows servers.
Recommended specs for 3x are as follows:
- PHP 5.4+ recommended / 5.3.10 required
- MySQL 5.1+
- Apache 2.x or IIS 7
Many web hosts advertise the version of PHP they're using. If yours doesn't, ask pre-sales advisors to confirm Joomla compatibility before you sign up.
Different Ways to Get Started with Joomla
There are two main ways to get started with the application for free. You can use a quick trial or a hosted trial account.
Joomla Quick Trial
Before you settle on a Joomla website, try the online Test Drive for an instant peek behind the scenes at the software. This is an anonymous demo that doesn't retain any of your information (it expires after 90 minutes).
It does give you control panel access with a click - which is handy for evaluation. Note the countdown in the footer that shows you how long you've got before it resets.
Joomla Hosted Trial
For a longer evaluation period, the hosted version of Joomla is free for 90 days. This gives you plenty of time to try out the tool and compare it to the alternatives. You get more functionality than the Test Drive.
You can also sign up for a SiteGround hosting account at the end of the trial if you want to retain your data. Get started with the official demo on the Joomla website. You can also access handy video content that will help you find your way around.
Once you're up and running, check out the Joomla forums for help and support.
Joomla via a Web Hosting Account
The majority of shared hosting and VPS hosting plans will come with a cPanel control panel. Very few host services advertise Joomla hosting specifically, but Joomla can be installed on just about any hosting service.
Let's recap the main factors which make Joomla worthwhile:
- Open Source Infrastructure
- Simple and Easy Installation
- Cross-platform Support
- Dedicated Community
- Powerful Extensions
Open Source Infrastructure
Joomla has been created using primarily PHP as a programming language. The use of PHP made it simple to gain traction in the open-source community, with a variety of developers contributing regularly.
Simple and Easy Installation
At first sight, Joomla may be confusing, but it's simple to install. With the use of software such as Softaculous, it's just another one-click install like WordPress.
As mentioned previously, Joomla is best with Linux servers. That aside, it is cross-platform compatible, making it a flexible application.
With the help of an open-source community, Joomla users are dedicated. Not only do they help each other, but they have a general interest in making the CMS constantly better.
Joomla's five different extension types cater to a variety of user-friendly support options. Unlike WordPress, Joomla has separate extension categories which specialize in specific departments.
With some technical knowledge, Joomla can be optimized to handle large traffic volumes. That being said, it is equally as useful for novices to start out with.
While each host can customize cPanel for their customers, there's usually at least one script installer, like the Softaculous script installer.
Simple Installation via cPanel
These installers in your hosting account let you pick a content management system like Joomla and does all the setup on the server for you.
3 Best Hosts with Joomla Support
Just about any good host can be used for a Joomla website, but there are three that stand out as better than the rest.
Joomla with SiteGround Hosting.
SiteGround is the official demo host provider of Joomla. You can sign up for a demo account on Joomla's website, which will set up a site on SiteGround that is free for you to use for 90 days.
That says a lot about Joomla's confidence in their software running on SiteGround.
You can install Joomla on any of SiteGround's plans with just a few clicks, but they're one of the very few hosts that clearly display Joomla-specific plans.
These plans come with features to make Joomla sites run better and easier to manage. To start with, they provide a free custom-made extension that enables SiteGround's SuperCacher on some of these plans.
This speeds up your site significantly. Each server also comes with Cloudflare CDN built-in.
Updates and Support
They will also auto-update Joomla as updates come out to keep your site secure while creating a backup before the update just in case something goes wrong. SiteGround has amazing support documentation in general, with several detailed tutorials on setting up and using Joomla.
Finally, some plans come with a Joomla staging tool, which lets you edit a copy of your site and get everything right before pushing it to a live version of your site.
Joomla with InMotion Hosting.
InMotion Hosting is a great web host company if you're planning on creating a Joomla site for a U.S. business or non-profit foundation. All customers receive 24/7/365 U.S.-based support, which is good no matter your location.
Data Centers and Freebies
InMotion Hosting has two data centers, located on either cost of the U.S., which is why most of their customers are in the U.S.
To further appeal to small businesses, they offer a free domain and hundreds of dollars in free advertising credits with each hosting plan.
To top it off, you have a 90-day money-back guarantee to decide if you're happy or not.
Joomla with Bluehost Hosting.
If the price is by far the most important concern to you, Bluehost is also a good option when looking for a web hosting company. You can install Joomla on any of their packages, and the prices are as low as they come. You also get a free domain name and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The trade-off is that their server performance is nothing special, and the support team and documentation isn't quite as good as the other two options. If your site isn't going to get much traffic, that may not be a big issue.
Bluehost does offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth on many of their hosting plans.
In reality, unlimited means that you'll get as many resources from your shared server as needed unless your site is impacting other customers. If you have high traffic, you'll need a VPS or dedicated hosting plan.
A Few Things About Joomla
Since you have a ton of options in terms of selecting a Joomla host, you need to keep some things in mind. Here is a brief sum-up of what to look out for:
- Support for PHP and MySQL database
- SSD disk space and caching for speed
- Automated backups
Other features in CMS
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Joomla Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Joomla?
Joomla is a free and open source content management system written in PHP.
By "free," it is meant that the software is available without cost and also without restriction. By open source, it is meant that the source code for the application is available for review and modification. Open source also refers to the method of development. The software is developed by an open community of developers, not a private corporation.
- What is a content management system?
A content management system (CMS) is a software application that provides a way to easily create, edit, store, and display content on the web. In most cases (as with Joomla), there is a graphical user interface for adding and editing content, which could be pages, blog posts, images, or any other form of content. There is a database that stores content, and there are templates which display content to website visitors.
- Is Joomla well-supported?
Yes. There is complete documentation, a community forum, a magazine, events, workshops, mailing lists, video tutorials, and blogs. There are also a number of commercial companies that provide paid, premium support and consulting for Joomla.
- What kind of websites can I build with Joomla?
Almost any kind of content-focused website would be a good fit for Joomla. Many experts say that Joomla is especially good as the basis for an ecommerce or social networking site.
- I'm a beginner. Is Joomla a good choice for me?
Maybe. But other options might be better. Joomla is easy enough to learn, but is more popular with developers than with inexperienced users. If you use a platform like WordPress, which has a larger base of beginner users, you might find it easier to get help and tutorials about your specific issues.
- I'd like to start a blog. Should I use Joomla?
If the only thing you are planning to do is run a blog, Joomla might be overkill. Another CMS that is more focused on blogging, like WordPress, might be a better choice. That being said, you certainly can run a blog on Joomla, and if you want to run a blog as part of a larger website (like an ecommerce site or a social media platform), Joomla might be a great choice.
- Does Joomla have the functionality I need?
Probably. Joomla has over 8,000 extensions. Additionally, there is a very robust hook and filter system in place that makes it easy to add functionality and develop new extensions as needed.
- Can I make a Joomla website look the way I want it to?
Yes. Joomla has over a thousand free themes available, many of which are customizable. It is also relatively easy for an experienced developer to build a new theme based on a custom design, and there are a large number of professional developers you can hire to do this for you (and lots of tutorials if you want to learn to do it yourself).
- What are the major alternatives to Joomla?
The two biggest competitors are WordPress and Drupal. They are both open source and written in PHP.
- How does Joomla compare to Drupal?
Again — it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Joomla is more popular. If you need a lot of custom content types and are trying to do something complex but relatively common, Joomla is probably a good choice. If you are doing something truly novel, with a lot of custom functionality and logic, Drupal might be a better way to go.
- How do I decide between Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress?
Most of the applications that can be built on one platform could be built on any of them. In some cases, there is a specific reason to use one platform or another. For example, if you are just setting up a blog and nothing else, you should use WordPress. Or if you need the features built in to a specific distribution of Drupal, like CiviCRM, your choice should be clear. However, if you are not a developer and you need something new built from scratch, it is much better to find a developer you like and trust, and then let them select a platform based on their own comfort level and the needs of the specific project.