Designing a website is, like many undertakings, all about what you put into it. If you go into the process armed with great tools and a solid base of well-found knowledge, it’ll be a relative walk in the park – you might even find out you enjoy the experience or that you have a talent for it. On the other hand, if you charge into website design with little but enthusiasm by your side, don’t be surprised if you find your efforts crumbling to digital dust before your eyes. Quick, guess which group most would-be Internet mavens find themselves in. Most people believe website design – that is, proper website design that’ll actually be worth something in the long run – is far too technical and time consuming for the average person, so they don’t even attempt it. Happily, most people couldn’t be more wrong. The guide you’re about to read will place you squarely in the minority, that happy band who knows that designing a website on the Joomla platform can be quick, easy, and even fun if you know what you’re doing and why. Let’s begin, shall we?
A Quick Note: This guide focuses on resources for those looking to take their established Joomla properties to the next level. As such, we won’t be covering hosting for Joomla or other such basic items in any detail. If you still need a reputable hosting platform with a Joomla-friendly reputation, try HostGator, BlueHost or Green Geeks. You can also try SiteGround if you’re looking for alternative hosting for Joomla.
Given that all the features discussed in this review guide are supported by one’s hosting plan, now seems a great time to dive into our first category, so let’s get to it!
Vanilla Joomla is perfectly serviceable and stable, but much of its charm and power comes from the fact that it can be modified using various plugins and bits of code called extensions. These plugins can do anything from simply changing the look of your website to completely altering its functionality (most often with the aim of improving the site itself). Some examples of these general purpose / wide-scope plugins and extensions can be found below.
- No Number Extension Manager is a bundler / manager for many of Joomla’s most popular extensions, allowing you to find and use them from one convenient location.
- JCE, or Joomla Content Editor, is probably the leading WYSIWYG content editor for Joomla properties – publishing content has never been easier (and if you do hit a snag, the support is top notch)!
- Akeeba Backup is just what it sounds like – this archival plugin will keep all your files, databases, and other important info nice and organized even if catastrophe strikes.
- Admin Tools is your one-stop Joomla command center. This is the extension from which you manage your empire, and it only takes a few clicks.
There are a wide array of performance enhancing plugins and extensions available for the Joomla user, each with their own unique traits and purpose. A brief list follows.
- MaxCDN, while not a plugin or extension in the strictest sense, is nevertheless a great addition to any Joomla user’s arsenal. MaxCDN is probably the most popular Content Delivery / Distribution Network, and will greatly increase your site’s speed and integrity when compared to traditional single-server delivery models.
- CDN For Joomla! is an extension which takes advantage of (and requires you to use or have joined) MaxCDN. It allows any Joomla site to become a part of the Content Delivery / Distribution Network, and thus to gain all of the associated benefits thereof. It’ll cost you, but it’s worth the price if you expect a high volume of non-local traffic.
- XMap auto-generates a sitemap for your Joomla site(s). This helps visitors find their way around and gives your site a credibility bump with Google.
- sh404SEF makes every URL of your site SEO-friendly, greatly increasing the speed and rank with which you’ll be indexed.
- obRSS is another SEO-focused extension; this one allows the user to create RSS feeds on the fly. Duplicate content killer features are baked in, as are various other sub-mods so it won’t break when made to play with your other plugins or extensions.
Miscellaneous Plugins and Extensions
A short list of miscellaneous plugins and extensions can be found below; most of them deal with giving your Joomla properties a sort of running start (which is to say, populating them with all the best bits automatically so you don’t have to hand-code them).
- Mass Content is probably the single biggest time saving utility on this list. As the name implies, it lets you mass-produce your content and categorize it all at once, turning a job that might take hours into one that takes half the time.
- Kunena is perfect if you want or need a forum for your Joomla site(s); it’s one of the most popular utilities of its type in all of the Joomla user base.
- VirtueMart is your go-to solution if you’re looking to make a Joomla-based store. Just install it, follow the simple set-up process, and start raking in the dough!
- While not a true plugin or extension, there are a number of template clubs to be found throughout the Joomla ecosystem; some of the most popular are RocketTheme, Joomlart, and various PSD-to-Joomla shops. These clubs offer pre-made site skeletons, and for a price, will cut out 90 percent of the work behind setting up a successful and distinctive Joomla site. There are also SEO clubs out there to help you with attracting visitors and staying on top of the SERPs (like Alledia, for instance), but they aren’t nearly as numerous.
Setting up a successful stable of Joomla properties is about more than just finding a good deal on hosting for Joomla sites. It takes the right tools. With this guide in hand, you should have no shortage of such equipment. Thanks for reading, and good luck!