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Absolute Beginners Guide to Joomla!

Welcome to Joomla!, a leading open source Content Management System (CMS) platform. Joomla! is a well-tested, extensible and effective tool supported by a very active and friendly community of developers and users.

Do you want to get started with Joomla!, but you have no idea where to begin? If so, you have come to the right place. The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Joomla! is just for you.

Although you could spend a lifetime learning Joomla!, if you master the basics you will be able to make a vary attractive and useful basic website in very little time and with no no special technical skills.

What is Joomla!?

Joomla! is software that lets you make and update web pages easily.

You can think of a Joomla! website as bringing together three elements.

  • Your content, which is mainly stored in a database.
  • Your template, which controls the design and presentation of your content (such as fonts, colors and layout).
  • Joomla! which is the software that bring the content and the template together to produce webpages.

Installing Joomla!

There are several ways to install Joomla!.

First, make sure that you have an account on a web server. For most people this means signing up with a hosting company and purchasing a domain that will serve as your site's main address.

  • Option One: One Click Installs. Many hosting companies offer "instant" installation of Joomla!. Follow the instructions your host provides for a one click install.
  • Option Two: Conventional Installs. This method requires that you copy the Joomla! zip file to your hosting account, unzip, create a database, and then run the installation. Complete instructions can be found in the Joomla! Installation Manual. This video takes you through the steps

For support with installation, you can ask questions in the installation forum.

Learn to Use Joomla!

Now that you have a working Joomla! site, you will want to start filling it with your own content and making it look just the way you want. Before doing that, it is a good idea to learn more about how Joomla! works. There are a number of very useful resources to help you with this.

This article shows you how to create an article from the front end.

One way is to learn by working with the sample data.

There is also a very nice beginners visual guide to getting started with Joomla! 1.5 here: Learn Joomla! 1.5 Fast! Scribd (PDF 1.3Mb) written by Saurabh Bhide.

The Joomla! v 1.5 Quick Start Guide Scribd, written by Kevin Hayne. As you read the guide, walk through the video accompaniment created by Michael Casha.

The Joomla! Core Features Guide scribd, written by James Ramsay describes the features are available in each download of Joomla!.

Joomla! works using various extensions, some that come with your installation and some that you add yourself. This document explains the types of Joomla! extensions.

For support as you are learning, ask questions in the New to Joomla1/General Joomla! v 1.5 forum.

The Joomla! Demo site is a good place to try out many of these features if you have not yet done an installation.

The Glossary will help you as learn more.

Start Creating Your Site

Now you're ready to start making your own articles, weblinks, contacts, banners, and newsfeeds.

Before you jump into doing this you may want to review Planning_Your_Web_site

One of the first tasks you may want to do is to modify one of the templates that comes with Joomla! so that it displays your site name and logo.

Finally, you may want to install one or more of the thousands of extensions to Joomla!

Read How to install an extension.

Please remember that all extensions are developed by independent developers. If you need help with a specific extension the best source will be that developer.


For help visit:

Keep Your Site Secure

Security is always a big concern on the web. Make sure you are using best security practices. The basic techniques on the Security Check List will get your site off to a good start in terms of security.

Getting Help

The Joomla! forums are the among the busiest (and most friendly) support forums in the world, and they are a great place to get help and meet other Joomla! users.

  • Please make certain you search, first, before posting a question. Nine times out of ten someone else had the same issue that you had. As it turns out, we all travel a similar path.
  • Also, check the FAQs--Frequently Asked Question.
  • Make sure you are posting in the right forum for your topic.
  • Be clear and specific in your request for help. Entries like “Help! It doesn’t work!” tend to get ignored. Try to explain everything that led up to your problem. Try to explain what your problem is. Be clear about what you want to happen. And, thank those who bother to help!
  • Use the Forum Post Assistant to help you provide more information and better explain your problem.
  • If your question/problem was solved, mark your thread as solved by editing the first post you made in that thread and changing the topic icon to the green check mark with a circle. You can also add [Solved] to your topic title. By doing this you allow other members who are doing searches to easily differentiate between solved and unsolved issues. This also saves the volunteers' time of having to open up solved topics.
  • As soon as you know things, start answering questions. Answering questions is one of the best ways to learn.
  • If someone helps you, say thank you and pay it forward by answering a question yourself.

Selected Advanced Beginner and Intermediate Topics

The remainder of this document briefly covers some slightly more advanced topics for web masters.


Learn to Backup and Restore

Learn to backup your Joomla! database. Learn to restore your Joomla! database. Frequent backups are the best way to make sure you can recover if your site has a problem. This video entitled How to backup and restore a Joomla! database using phpMyAdmin by kristofdb.

How to Recover Your System Administration Password

Watch this video by James Ramsey entitled How to Recover your Administrator Password using phpMyAdmin.

Exploring the possibilities with Joomla! v 1.5 Core

Creating a Local Installation

People creating complex websites often like to work on their own computer and to move the whole site to their web server when it is ready.

To do this you will need to install a webserver (such as Apache or IIS), PHP and MySQL on your local machine. There are a number of tools that make it easy to do this.


For Apache you can install XAMPP and then perform a normal web based Joomla! installation on your computer.

The Joomla! Quickstart Guide and accompanying video explain XAMPP installation in detail.


For IIS you can install the Windows Web platform.

Using Mootools

There are many great things you can do with Mootools, included in Joomla! v 1.5. Check out these resources to learn how:

Learn the Basics of Joomla! Templating

Using CSS Class Suffixes

There are other simple things you can do with templates to achieve the look you need. These simple tutorials could be very helpful.

Getting Rid of Tables

Adding Javascript to your Template

Troubleshooting a Template Installation

If you are having trouble installing a template, see How to resolve problems with a template installation Scribd by Chad Windnagle (drmmr763).


Address Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of doing whatever is needed to help make your Web site rank higher in return results for a search engine. For some, this is very important aspect of attracting visitors to their site. Most experts agree, however, that the single best way to improve your chance of getting attention on the Internet is to provide good content on a regular basis. There are several things that you can do using core functionality to make your Joomla! Web site more SEO friendly. Here are some important areas to focus.

Configure and troubleshoot SEF URLs

Remove WWW from your domain name

Create a Custom 404 Page

SEO Questions

Questions on these topics should be asked in the Joomla! v 1.5 SEO Forum.

SEF URL Questions?

Converting an Existing Website to Joomla!

Check out the How to Convert an existing Web site to a Joomla! Web site guide for great step by step instructions.

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