Joomla 101

For those of you who do not know, Joomla is a wonderful open source content management system (CMS). At its core, Joomla is a powerful way to rapidly develop professional quality websites of any kind. Through extensions, Joomla can become just about anything you want it to be. Best of all, it is completely free and available in numerous languages.

In this guide, we will get you up and running with your first Joomla website and go over the basics of what it’s all about.

Getting Joomla

The first thing we need to do is download the latest version of Joomla from their official website. Current version is 1.5.7.

Download Joomla

Once you have finished downloading, you will need to extract the zip file to a location of your choice. Now you need to use an FTP client to upload the extracted files to your webhost. If you need help connecting to your web host through FTP, please view your web hosts documentation.

Preparing for Installation

Before we can install Joomla we need to setup a database so Joomla can store all of your website’s data. To do this you will need to access your hosting account control panel. This varies depending on your host, so consult your host’s documentation for help. Most control panels will have a button labeled "MySQL Databases" or "Manage Databases". You will need to create a new database. Make sure that you write down your database information as we are going to use it later.

Time for the Install

Now that we have uploaded our files and created our database, we are now ready to install Joomla.

Using your web browser, go to the location of your uploaded Joomla files. Ex.

It should automatically redirect you to the Joomla installation page. From here you can select your default language and click the "Next" button.

Joomla Installation Page

Next is the pre-installation check. Basically, it’s just making sure your server is configured correctly. Everything should check out just fine, and you can click "Next". Click "Next" again if you agree to the Joomla terms.

Now you should be at the database configuration page. You will need to input the database hostname, username, password, and name that you used when creating the database.

Joomla Database Creation

If Joomla could connect to your database, you will be sent to the FTP configuration page. I usually leave this page alone, but if you want to (or your server requires it) you can enter your FTP information. Click "Next".

Finally, we have made it to the final page of installation. You will need to enter your site name and login information. There is also the option to install sample data. This will install sample content into your website so you can get the gist of how stuff works. This is recommended for beginners.

That’s it! Joomla is now installed. However, before you can access your website you will need to delete your Joomla installation folder. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to go.

Joomla Basics

So, you have created your first Joomla website and are ready to add content. The first thing you will need to do is add some articles and menu items to link to them. From your Joomla admin page (ex., click on "Article Manager" under the "Content" menu.

Joomla Admin Page

The article manager is your best friend. You will use it to add most of your website’s content. On the right side of the page, click the "New" button.

Before you can publish your article you will need to add a title, select a section and a category. There are a lot of other options that you can mess around with, however, I will not be covering them in this article.

So add some content to your article and give it a title. Then select a section from the drop down list and then do the same for the categories. Finally, check the "Front Page" option and click "Save".

Joomla Article Editor

Now we need to be able to access your new content item from the main menu. To do this, under the "Menu" menu, click "Main Menu". On the right side click "New". Since we are going to be linking to an article, click "Articles" from under the Internal Link section. Now click "Article Layout".

Give your new menu item a title, ex. My Article. Now choose an article by clicking the "Select" button on the right side of the page and click on the article title you wish to link to. Finally, click save.

Now that we have setup Joomla, added content and a menu item, we can now unleash our website to the world. To preview your new Joomla website, click the "Preview" link on the top right of the page.

Joomla Website Preview

You should see your article on the frontpage of your new website along with the menu link you created. I chose not to install sample data so it is a very basic website.

That is all for this article! You now have a very basic Joomla website, but there is much….much more to Joomla! In an upcoming article you will learn how to use modules, templates, and extensions.


  • DDamir says:

    Joomla is the best open source content management system.

  • Marco says:

    I totally agree with DDamir. I use it on my website too.

    Together with Drupal they’re really the greatest CMSses around.

    Great article!

  • Ryan says:

    I’ve never seen anything better than Joomla! At its core its a true CMS. In the hands of a great thinker, Joomla is the ultimate application for really building applications in days.

    I’ve built entire websites with Joomla in 3-4 hours! which is amazing! When you add some of the better modules and components you can really do anything!

    The Community Builder Plugin does enterprise grade community functions.
    The New Gk2 Makes displaying content a breeze
    The Jquery/Mootools menu systems give you the feel of flash by the crawl-ability you need for SEO
    Virtual Mart is monstrous for e-commerce

    and I can go on, I’ve personally tested over 1,000 Joomla extensions and truly see its power

    Given the wordpress community is more comprehensive in documentation, support and usage instructions — Joomla by far is the King of cms/blog style applications.

    Great Article!

  • JONxBLAZE says:

    Joomla and WordPress are 2 of the best CMS out there, nothing even comes close! Great 101 !

  • Vivekanand says:

    I do work on Joomla, frankly to say! this is also one of the best and robust Content Management System (CMS) which I have seen and to handle or to update content very easily.

    Thanks for your effort and for posting such a nice awesome tutorial.


  • deviantz says:

    I’m studying Joomla right now.. And yes this is a powerful CMS!

  • Anja Allison says:

    I tried Joomla but it is way to complicated to set up and hard to configure with existing websites. I wished they would make it easier for designers. Not all of us are developers! I found something that is way better than Joomla: CushyCMS

  • mojitopl says:

    After a long thinking I decided to give a chance to Joomla! despite some very loud voices that it’s a pure evil. I do not regret. I sent likde 1hr with Joomla Basics and i feel that I can built completelu awesome websites. And I think that styling templates and building my own is not that hard. You have an editable htmls and css files via admin account, co there is no problem!

    Now I have to check why wordpress – which seems to be less complex and don’t fit as good as Joomla for corporate and buisness websites – is so popular ;)

    More Joomla! tutorials for designera! :D

  • B-RAD says:

    i dont really understand…why use this when you could just code the EXACT same look from scratch..coding it. is this just like ‘an easy way out’ for web design? maybe i’m not understanding it completely :X

  • Joomla is really underrated it seems these days. I jut started using it and love it. I just wish the core joomla output didnt involve such bloated markup and use of tables.

  • cherliz says:

    Joomla is easy for people who don’t know to code. You can set it up, take a template, pop in stuff and done. Problem is that the core is still table-based. And even if it is tableless, it suffers from divitis and is a div-nightmare.
    Personally I think Joomla is way overrated. And of course I see some advantages, contactforms, polls etc. are made quite easily.
    The dependence on templates is not someting I’m happy about. So now I’m trying to make my own template, and it is another nightmare to make css workarounds to get stuff fixed that can be done quite easily with css/xhtml.
    e.g. making different backgrounds for each page.
    I heard it should be done with overrides (sigh)
    each Joomla peach is not really a page of course, but “just” an article.

  • Keith D says:

    Joomla… Wordpress…

    How to choose.

    I don’t want to spend a lot of time learning the wrong CMS.

    Keith D

  • Sagive says:

    gr8 article, thanks..

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  • Bridget says:

    I am having trouble saving content to my webpage in the article manager and module manager. I no longer have a ‘Save’ option. Did I deactivate this somehow? Originally I had someone else install and setup joomla and joomla template. After he handed it over to me I was able to save information. Then, all of the sudden I wasn’t. What am I doing wrong????

  • Joomla == Quick Elegant Site. It never cross in my mind before that i could create a site in a very short time. CMS is cool!!!