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There are so many templates online for the Joomla platform, it's easy to get overwhelmed. So many talented designers and developers have made it nearly impossible to select a single template for your site. Here are some solid ways to narrow down that sea of possibilities.

1. Choose the Correct Industry. This is so simple it often goes without mention, but it's imperative to select a design that reflects your industry. Don't be seduced by trendy or edgy designs unless they play a key role in your field. Don't select a graphics-intensive design if you plan to offer a great deal of information on your site.

2. Don't Forget Content. Don't underestimate the importance of unique and original content on your site. Likewise, don't overestimate your audience's eye strength or patience. Smaller fonts may look neat and tidy, but they can quickly become a nuisance to read. Let your visitor enjoy your information without having to magnify the article. Unless you are a photographer or artist, your template should merely be decoration that complements the starring figure: content.

3. Consider the template layout. Is it easy to navigate? Does the template feature odd placement of modules or content? Rethink any template that is too difficult to browse. Also, look at where the modules are. Do you like their situation? Can the modules be moved with ease? Modules, like template colors, should be adjustable across the page. Try to avoid templates that limit your module placement.

4. Simple is Better. It may seem like fiction, but some poorly made templates can harm your SEO rankings. Beware of templates featuring lots of complicated interactivities or new components. The search engines prefer simplistic layouts because the code is usually just as minimal.

5. Your Template Should Match. You don't want a personal template for a business, anymore than a business template for your personal blog. Your template should convey your message, or your company's, just by its design. It should match your brand and the image you want to send.

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Two Joomla terms users should be familiar with are "front-end" and "back-end." The Front-end is the public portion of your site, the pages and modules that the general web visitor will see. When you have not logged in to the site, you are viewing the Front-end.

The Back-end is the term for the administrative area, the portion that visitors do not see. The Back-end helps you manage your content, your site's interactivity, and its appearance. If there are a number of people working with your site, not all users will have the same experience, or see the same options in the Back-end. Their access is dependent upon "Administrator Back-end Permissions." These are specific permissions you offer each respective user. They fall into essentially 3 categories:

  • Managers- Content managers will have limited access. This is also classification for writers and editors. The only functions they can access are with the content and main menu.
  • Administrators- The next level would be the administrator. They can do anything except altering website "sitewide" configurations or installing extensions.
  • Super Administrator- This is most often the site owner. The Super Administrator has the access to do anything, from altering the Global Configuration to changing the templates and modules. This level of permission should only be granted to those who you trust with performing such tasks.
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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

Most web sites online have competition. There's no shame in admitting the truth. No matter how narrow your niche, or how unique your enterprise, someone, somewhere will have a competing entity. As more people become fluent with web site administration, this fact will only become even more applicable.

Many steps can intensify your hard work on expanding and improving your web site. They are all very simple and easy to implement, even if you have a chaotic schedule. Here are five simple ways to keep your content popular.

1. Harness Popular Culture- You can use elements from popular songs or television programs, anything that's commonplace to discuss your topic. Easy references to common memes or trends will put your audience at ease. Can someone learn about your industry when they watch (Place the Appropriate Movie Title Here)? What are the errors in (Movie Title) when it comes to your field?

2. Create an Informative Slideshow- You can create graphic slideshows discussing your article in a variety of ways. Windows Moviemaker is packaged on most PCs. There are also online sites, such as Slideshare, that will help you create a slideshow. If you feel intimidated by creating a slide show, play around with the software on your computer. Don't forget such sites as YouTube will also host your slideshow.

3. Use Graphics for Important Quotes- Free images in the public domain can be found all across the internet. Depending on your country, there should be some government-sponsored archive that offers free digital images in an archive or database. If nothing else, try a site like Quozio to help you create a unique quote graphic. These can add visual appeal to your article and can even add a voice of authority.

4. Take Advantage of Social Media- Use your social media to discuss what you're highlighting. Don't simply invite people to view your site or your article. Engage them in conversation, ask questions, and discuss a particular point-of-view or opinion. Don't limit your social media's potential by simply creating "spammy" posts that are not informative or entertaining.

5. Know When to Take a Break- You can't always post amazing content. No one can. Even seasoned writers have dry seasons. When you find yourself in the middle of a verbal drought, look elsewhere. You can always feature posts filled with interesting and poignant content from elsewhere. Remember to always ask permission if doing anything more than simply linking to another site. Even if you just use a sentence from another site, let them know.

These simple tips can keep your site's audience growing, without eating away at your time or money.

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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

Many webmasters start out with Joomla, but aren't really familiar with how it works. This can create a host of problems that are needless. As with any CMS system, there are some steps to take before you install Joomla. These can save you hours of time and much frustration.

1. Content Helpers

Before you start, define your web site. Is it going to be something that works heavily with content? Do you want to create a community? Do you anticipate tens or hundreds of documents or images? Will you be working with a number of collaborators? If any of these apply, you might want to consider an add-on like the K-2 extension.


2. Know Thy Documentation

The most important step is to read over all Joomla documentation. Even if you intend to install the "Sample Data," you will need to know how your web site operates. You can spend weeks going through "trial-and-error," but it's needless. Joomla users can take advantage of extensive documentation at sites across the globe.

3. Learn the Lingo

It's imperative that you know and understand three Joomla terms, even starting out. They are:

Modules: Modules appear as little boxes at various spots on the page. Some of the most popular modules are "Newsflash," "Most Popular." Menus can also be used as modules.

Components: These work like tiny applications. They often create or delete content.

Plugins: These extensions perform a certain task.

4. On the Menu

Joomla can be confusing when it comes to menus. You create them in the "Menu manager," but you assign their placement in the "Module Manager." It often creates issues when webmasters don't understand how they work.

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Most who use Joomla acknowledge that it isn't always search engine friendly, as soon as its installed. Oftentimes, it needs a little polishing. One of the most noticable issues is the simple URL. Joomla's URL structure isn't often very effiecient for search engines. There is little ledgible text, which is needed for proper search indexing. Even the URL has some weight when it comes to ranking and it's always better to provide up-front information.

 

1. As stated above, your URL should be search engine friendly. There are several options for this, but the simplest is Joomla's own SEF plugin. To activate this, go to the global configuration area and look for the option. Once activated, be sure to test your menus and ensure activation doesn't interfere with your site's navigation.

 

2. Don't forget your header tags. The Header tags (i.e. H1, H2) show priority on your page. It's important to have a keyword or keyphrase emphasized in your article. These tags do just that.

 

3. Use error pages wisely. Joomla has plenty of plugins to assist you with creating informative 404 error pages. These are inevitable and vistors will likely go elsewhere if your page doesn't catch their attention.

 

4. Memorable Page Titles are a must. Don't forget how important it is to keep your page titles interesting. Even your "Home" page should have the keyword somewhere in the title. You can change the name of your Homepage via the "Menu Manager." Just click on "Home" and enter a title for it.

 

5. Remember Meta data. Meta data is still in use, despite many naysayers predicting its demise. Due to previous abuses, more qualities are evaluated by engines than regular meta data. It's still a major portion of the page when it comes to indexing. You should focus on 2-3 keywords or keyphrases and a clear, concise description of the page. You can enter data for each article under the "Advanced" or "Meta" area of the article page.

 

 

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Posted by on in Reviews

Many website owners may be wondering how to integrate more function into their existing Joomla website. Many may be hesitant to install Joomla because they foresee many content needs they aren't certain Joomla can manage. Joomla is one of the most popular CMS programs available, but it does lack some features and functions that are necessary for a variety of purposes.

This is where the sizable component "K2" comes in. This is a Joomla extension that gives your CMS program a boost where you need it. The program is installed, just like any other extension, but you'll have a host of new capabilities available once it's installed.

K2 is collaborator friendly. This is particularly important where people work on extensive documentation together. It helps you manage your files in a way that everyone can benefit from.

K2 offers you a number of "rich content" forms to improve your platform. You can easily integrate things like podcasts, audio/video files, galleries, or even attachments. Your images just need to be uploaded, the K2 extension offers you 6 possible dimensions for images. This eliminates any need for resizing with photoediting software. You can offer comments and tagging, you can extend your content to create catalogs, offer frontend editing, control settings for your content, easier template capabilities, simpler blogging capabilities, and more.


Sites offering K2 can also offer visitors a way to create their own profiles, simple or extended. This can be especially helpful to sites that will have a number of types of users. K2 can be just as effective for single-owner websites as it can complex company sites. This is a little extension with a big range of uses.

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The majority of CMS programs do have issues with duplicate content, from time-to-time. This is when a page you've worked on comes up two or three times, each with different URLs. These are identical to the original document and serve no real purpose. These can be indexed by search engines, so its best to deal with them as soon as the engines discover them.

One of the more common causes is improper planning. Webmasters are encouraged to create a number of categories before posting the content. This will be easier for a new web site, but it is also recommended for a site that's currently operating. You can use the batch move tool in the Article Manager to help you better organize your content. For example, someone running a floral shop might have categories in their web site like these:

 

  • Birthday Arrangements
  • Wedding Arrangements
  • Baby Celebrations
  • Anniversary

 

This just helps the software better organize your web site. Duplicate content does more than make your site appear cluttered. It can have a negative impact on the entire business. Search engines avoid indexing duplicate content as much as possible. The end result is that your web site can have a dramatic reduction in traffic.

 

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Posted by on in JMS

The "trash" area in Joomla is the final resting place of things that have been deleted. Like the "Recycle Bin," on a desktop, it's receptacle for unwanted articles and data. This is also where material goes that is accidentally deleted. In Joomla 1.5, this was an easy issue. You simply went to the respective area of the web site and restored what you didn't mean to delete. Or, perhaps you have a great number of articles in there you would like to just get rid of.

One of the most noticeable changes in Joomla 2.5 is the elimination of a "trash" area. You can send items there, but many webmasters are unable to find exactly where "there" is. There is no longer an option for "Menu Trash" or for "Article Trash."

The trash is still there, it's just the path to it has changed. Now, to access your trash bin, you open the Article Manager. From the "Select Status" drop-down, you may select "Trashed" and it will display all the items in your bin. It also gives you the option to empty the bin, if you don't wish to restore anything.

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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

Google Analytics is a free service that has been offered for some time. Many webmasters still haven't gotten around to utilizing it. There are a number of benefits for all webmasters to take advantage of this. Primarily, Analytics goes beyond a simple "visitor counter." True, it does count your visitors, but it also helps you keep track of your social media success, your content's popularity and your keyword effeciency. It can help webmasters who also use Google Adsense and it offers in-depth information on your conversion rates.

Installing Analytics is likely to scare away some webmasters. It requires a code embedded in each page to effectively monitor traffic. To those who have hundreds of pages, it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Joomla users again have an advantage. There are a number of plugins designed to do this no matter how many pages you have in your site.

To add Analytis to your Joomla site, you need an account. If you don't have an account with Google Analytics, go ahead and set one up. You'll need information from your account area to make any Joomla plugin work.

You'll need proper Joomla extension for dealing with Analytics, so visit the extension library and select the service that works best for your site.

Your extension will be installed just as any other, through the "Extension Manager." Once it is installed and you've enabled it, you'll need a snippet of code from your Analytics account page. All Google Analytics extensions require a "Tracking id," it can also be called a, "Web Property ID." This is found on your account page at Google. It always starts with the characters "UA."

Once you have the number installed, give Analytics a day or two to gather the necessary data.

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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

Free Joomla templates, no matter which version of Joomla you have, will carry the same advantages as well as disadvantages. They can be beneficial, especially if you're a small company and desperately need to keep things affordable. They can be detrimental in some situations. A professional IT company would not want to use a free Joomla template. It does not reflect well on your business, as a web professional. If your company works on computers or with technology, you will benefit far more from purchasing a professional template. 

For those who do utilize "free" Joomla templates, there are some etiquette guidelines to follow:

1. Backlinks- These are usually small links left at the bottom of your template. They provide the author of the template with a tasteful way of promoting their business on their product. Leave these intact. Sometimes, you will want to tweak the verbiage, and that's usually fine, so long as the link remains intact. Rather than a blurb that states: "This template designed by John Doe," you might want to change it to something like "Page Designer John Doe." This is a polite gesture towards the person who did invest their time. For example, if someone painted a portrait for your company, for free, you wouldn't try to hide the artist's name. The same principal applies.

2. Beware of hidden dangers. Some "free" templates are harmful. They carry code for malware or adware and can cause pop-ups. To avoid this, choose templates from trusted companies.

3. Many templates will disable or rearrange your modules. This is common. Re-enable your items after installation. If you experience problems, your template may not be compatible with your modules and plug-ins. One option is to disable the new template, use a trusted older one, and work on the bugs manually.

4. Many free template sites are moving towards requiring registration to download templates. Choose such companies wisely. You should either have a spare email address dedicated to such purposes, or find a couple of trustworthy companies to download from.

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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

One of the most important steps for driving new traffic to your site is to harness the power of social media. Such sites as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and others, offer far more advantages than just keeping your regular clients up-to-date. They expand your audience many times over. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done. Many webmasters aren't comfortable with code work, yet sites across the internet are offering full social access. What is their secret?

Few business webmasters today are actually visiting all of the social sites to update each one, individually. They either employ someone to do this or they use a product such as Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a useful tool for any site owner, as it will update Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and several other sites, all at the same time. You can also schedule your posts ahead of time and have impressive access to the activity at each site, via a "wall" within the program. Smaller business owners will also appreciate the fact that there is a free version.

To integrate your Joomla site into this social media popularity, you will benefit from an extension, such as the "Nice Social Bookmark." This tool will connect your website to 13 social sites. It will place icons in your posts so visitors can quickly connect your page, with their status update. There are six icon types and four icon sizes to choose from. To help your site SEO, the extension is W3C valid.

To install the Nice Socil Bookmark, you will go to your site's "Extension Manager." Upload and install the module. You'll need to ensure it's activated as well as configure your preferences for its positioning and appearance.

There's no need for website owners to be left behind in the social media craze. Integrating social media into your site, as well as your schedule, is easier than ever. 

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Posted by on in JMS

Google now offers web writers another way to get noticed. It's called "Google Authorship." You've probably already encountered them while browsing the Internet. These boxes appear, usually below content, and offer the author's photograph as well as a brief summary of information. You can sign up for this service at Google Authorship. This is a service that's connected with Google+.

So, aside from a nifty author box, what are the benefits?

1. Authorship assures the search engine you are you. We live in an era of copied content and it is imperative that the authors of such content can retain their rights and identity. This adds to the legitimacy of your content.

2. When you implement Google Authorship, you will get more clicks from visitors on the search engines. Your article will appear with your photo and visibility is key in drawing traffic. You should also have a clear head shot for your author box, which means keeping a good photograph on your Google+ profile.

3. You can defeat plagiarists. Google will recognize an article on your web page as being more valuable than an unlawful copy created by a content scraper. Your information will receive priority.

4. Establish your authority and expertise. As you gain followers and readers, your presence online as an "expert" will also grow.

5. Thwart virtual identity thieves. Most people do share a name with someone else out there, it may be "John Smith," or "Jim Greene." It doesn't matter. But, you do want to establish yourself, in your niche, with your name. This verification from Google helps you do that.

6. Authorship gives you better brand building. This can save you a great deal of time and hard work.

 

One popular plugin to integrate Authorship into your Joomla site, quickly and effectively, is the Author List plugin.

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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

From time-to-time, you may encounter a situation where you need to remove a Super Administrator from your Joomla site. The individual may be going to a different company, or they may just not longer work with your organization. It's impossible to do this from the back end, so you will need to access your site's control panel

Removing a Super User isn't that difficult, so long as you have access to your "phpMyAdmin." You will need to go into this database and select the database for the site in question. You will want to look for an area in the database either named, "jos_users" or with a similiar name. It should be the area for users on your site.

Click on "browse" within this database and look for the user.

Once you locate the user, you will want to edit their row. Look for the area named, "gid." The value will be "25." You want to change this to "24." Save your changes.

Now, you can open the user manager from the Joomla backend and change their position. It will initially still show them as a Super Administrator, but you can now change their role in the site.

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One of the most noticeable changes between Joomla versions 1.5 and 2.5 is the disappearance of "sections" and "subcategories." It can be intimidating to see the organization you've grown accustomed to just vanish. Fear not, the capacity you need is still there, just in different form.

This is a feature tweaked to help webmasters. Many simply did not need sections, categories and subcategories to run their web site effectively. Likewise, the hassle of going to 2 or 3 different areas, just to organize, could be aggravating. All you need to manage your site content is found in the "categories" area of you site. To create a category or subcategory in Joomla 2.5:

  1. Click "New," in the Category Manager.
  2. You make it a subcategory by selecting a parent category, at the "Parent" drop down. If it isn't a subcategory, leave this set to "None."
  3. When you finish entering the details, click "Save & Close."

You can create up to 7 subcategories and tweak your site organization from this same area. You don't need to go to a different area for each level in your site hierarchy, you can just move and adjust as needed in this one area.

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Many webmasters online continue to use Joomla version 1.5. This is understandable as that remains one of the most popular versions. However, with new editions offering much greater control and tighter security, it is only natural that webmasters start looking to upgrade their site.

Joomla upgrades are not known for their simplicity. They have been both complicated and time-consuming. The newer editions of Joomla will offer far simpler upgrade processes, but to enjoy them, webmasters must upgrade their site to a newer version.

Fortunately, there are some components to help. JUpgrade is one such component that makes it much easier for a webmaster to do this. JUpgrade offers both a free version and a commercial version. The Pro version offers technical support, whereas the free version does not.

This will walk you through using the free version.

  1. Obtain the JUpgrade version you wish and download it to your computer.
  2. Back-up your existing site and save it to a safe place.
  3. Install JUpgrade.
  4. Be certain your site is backed-up before proceeding. This will change everything.
  5. Run the program.

JUpgrade is not just an update. It is a migration tool. While it runs on your site, it will download and unzip a full version of Joomla 2.5 and insert your content into it. Your new Joomla 2.5 site will be in its own folder in your directory. This is actually a great aid because you can go through your new site and verify the migration was successful. You should also move your files from the image directory into the new image directory.


If the upgrade has been successful, you'll need to move the new files. You can do this through your host's control panel or a good FTP program. Delete all related files in your root directory and move all files from the new folder to the root. It's good to copy-and-paste the files first, just to make sure the files aren't corrupted during transition.

Once everything has been moved, you can begin working with your new Joomla 2.5 website.

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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

Once you set up Joomla, it's important to know where your "Home Page" is and how to customize it to suit your needs. Joomla, like  other CMS systems, doesn't rely on the conventional "index.html" to stylize the home page. Some templates do offer this file, but it's merely a container for all the .php, css and other components. Joomla's home page is called the "Front Page."

You can customize your Front Page in a variety of ways. The simplest way is to go to "Menu Manager," hover over "Main Menu," and open the "Home" option. This should also be the default.

There are a number of parameters to set:

  • Leading- This is how many lead articles you wish to have on your home page.
  • Intro- This sets how many articles you want to have the intro text displayed.
  • Links- This allows you to offer a number of links to other articles, usually below your lead/intro articles.
  • Columns- Do you want your page to offer columns? This is where you specify how many. Be aware that your template must also allow columns or this might create a problem on the page.

Feel free to experiment with the settings to see what works best for your site. You can set all of these parameters to "0" if you wish, but be certain to frequently see what the page looks like.

You can easily keep an eye on your progress by keeping the homepage open in another window or tab of your browser. Any time you change a setting, refresh the page and your changes should manifest.

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Posted by on in Joomla How to's

Adding content to Joomla can be intimidating, particularly for new users. Even seasoned webmasters, who are accustomed to HTM/CSS webpages, can be frustrated by the newness of a CMS system. Luckily, Joomla is straightforward once you get beyond that initial learning curve.

Joomla does not offer pages, per se, for new articles. You don't need to create new pages, the software does that for you. All you do is insert your information, select the proper category and choose when you want to publish it. If you want it published immeidately, you don't need to do anything. Providing you already have your categories arranged, you will go to "Article Manager." Click "New" at the top.

Each article page on the backend will have two boxes under "Advanced" for you to add your keywords and keyphrases.

You can also set the desired access level. If left alone, the final product will be visible to everyone.

If you are using content from a guest author or contributor, you can type in a name beside the box labeled "Author." If left blank, it will just leave the default setting as the author, usually something like "Administrator."

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Reviews

One of the easiest ways to keep up with your customers and web site visitors is to offer a regular newsletter. You can provide information on sales, discounts or any company news you wish to promote. This has posed a variety of problems for Joomla webmasters. Some extensions were "free" but required users to register with a third or even fourth website just to use the product. Some sites want you to pay, even when you're mailing list in below 10 email addresses.

Then, once the web master has jumped through all the hoops and exported/imported their mailing addresses, they had to figure out how to customize newsletters in code form.

Fortunately, there's now a simple, no-hassle extension to fix this. The "AcyMailing Starter," is perfect for those starting out. This free component can be expanded as your mailing list grows. It offers templates and you customize it right on your site.

To install:

  1. Download the extension from the web site. It will be in a zipped folder.
  2. In your Joomla back-end, go to "Extension Manager."
  3. Install your extension and wait for a success message.

Be sure to send out an introductory email to let your members know to expect your newsletter.

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Posted by on in Reviews

Many webmasters run sites for companies that provide regional services and products. It can be difficult to find good methods of attracting visitors, especially if you have a number of competitors. How can you keep your traffic stream without sacrificing quality or functionality? Google and Joomla can help you seamlessly improve your site.

Google Region News is a module that integrates in your Joomla site. You can choose the best placement as well as what kinds of news you prefer to show. Google Region News will report information in a variety of popular categories, such as:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Business
  • Health
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • General News

This module makes it possible to keep your audience connected to local events, right from your own web site. You don't have to write the content or waste time updating. Now, visitors can keep up with the latest information every time they visit your website.

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Posted by on in Reviews

Many businesses online are growing more and more interested in posting reviews (as well as offering them). A hardware store owner may wish to review specific products within his or her inventory. A person who offers technical support service may wish to review components or upgrades offered for computers. A plumber may wish to highlight new products that are greatly benefiting the industry.

Since reviews are so popular online, there's a new extension available to users of Joomla 2.5. "Simple Review," is just that. It's an extension that operates independent of Joomla's usual articles and offers visitors a new level of information. It also helps the webmaster by streamlining and simplifying the review process.

The website offers full support as well as a forum for questions or comments.

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