Joomla is firmly in the number two spot for the most popular content management system (CMS), right behind WordPress.
It offers a huge amount of flexibility and customizability compared to WordPress - but Joomla isn't always as straightforward to set up.
So, if you've run into some problems while setting up your webpage, or just want to know more, I'm here to help. This step-by-step Joomla tutorial will tell you how to use Joomla to create a website:
- Step 1 - Sign up to a web hosting service and acquire a domain
- Step 2 - Install Joomla automatically
- Step 3 - Alternate step: Install Joomla manually
- Step 4 - Enter Your Joomla Control Panel
- Step 5 - Add a Joomla template
- Step 6 - Create a Joomla article
1. Sign Up to a Web Hosting Service and Acquire a Domain
Before we talk about how to set up Joomla, you need a web server to actually set it up on.
The vast majority of web hosts are compatible with Joomla, but it's worth making sure you choose the right one.
It's particularly important to pick a host that uses Linux servers as Joomla can't easily be installed on other operating systems.
To help find the best service for you, I've put together a list of the top five Joomla hosting services. My go-to recommendation is Hostinger which offers a range of affordable Joomla packages. Its customer support staff are also trained to deal with Joomla-specific issues, and its servers are optimized to help Joomla sites load quickly.
SiteGround is also a solid Joomla host. If you're willing to pay for its high-end GoGeek plan, you'll get access to features including Joomla SuperCacher and jHackGuard. Together, those plugins will help keep your Joomla site secure and responsive.
But if you already have hosting set up - that's great, too. Joomla is set up to work on most major hosting providers so you should be all set.
At this stage, you should also purchase a domain, which is the web address your site will be accessible at. You can buy domain registration when you purchase your hosting package or use a separate registrar such as GoDaddy and link the domain to your server later.
2. Install Joomla Automatically
If you choose a host that offers 1-click Joomla installation, you can use this automatic Joomla installation method. However, if your host doesn't support automatic installation, check out the alternate manual technique discussed in step three.
To install Joomla automatically, start by logging into your host's control panel. You'll need to use the credentials you created when opening your account. When you've logged in, you should see a screen like the one below.
Find and click on the 'Softaculous Apps Installer' icon.
Next, find the funky Joomla logo, and click 'Install':
That's it for the automatic method.
Joomla will now be added to your server. As for adding Joomla manually, I've included the need-to-know steps in the section below.
3. Alternate Step: Install Joomla Manually
If you've managed to install Joomla automatically, skip this and scroll to Step 4!
As it's not as popular as WordPress, sadly, some hosts don't offer automatic Joomla installation. If yours doesn't, don't worry; manually installing Joomla is a painless procedure.
To start the manual process, we're going to use phpMyAdmin to create a MySQL database which will store your Joomla files.
In your control panel, open 'phpMyAdmin'.
Next, open the 'Databases' tab, enter a name for your database and then click 'Create':
Now, you need to create a set of user credentials that you'll use to log in and edit the newly created database. In the 'Users' tab, press the 'Add user' link and create a user name and password.
After you've done that, make sure all of the privileges checkboxes are ticked and then click 'Add user'. You'll now be returned to a list of database users.
Click the 'Edit privileges' button next to the user you just created.
Scroll down to the section titled 'Database-specific privileges', select the database you just created and press 'Go'.
In the following screen, tick all the boxes and then press 'Go'.
It's now time to download the Joomla installation files by clicking the 'Download' link on the Joomla homepage.
Next, return to your site control panel and enter the file manager.
Upload the Zip file you just downloaded to your server's root directory, which is normally called 'public_HTML', and extract the package.
You're nearly there! Once the Joomla files are unzipped, navigate over to your website's URL address. If you did everything correctly, you should be greeted with the Joomla installation screen.
Now just fill in your site's information. On the second set up screen, input the database user information you created in phpMyAdmin.
Once you see the 'Congratulations! Joomla is now installed' message, that's it!
You've successfully installed Joomla manually (can you hear the crowd cheering?).
4. Enter Your Joomla Control Panel
Now that your Joomla site is officially up and running, you should be able to see the default Joomla page by visiting your site's URL address.
To begin editing your site, enter the Joomla Control Panel by adding '/administrator' to the end of your site address.
It should look something like 'https://YOURDOMAINGOESHERE.com/administrator/'.
5. Add a Joomla Template
The default Joomla theme provides that exciting vanilla ice cream look. So, one of the best things you can do when you start a Joomla site is to add a new template.
Once downloaded, add your new template from the Joomla Control Panel: hover over the 'Extensions' menu at the top of the screen, then highlight 'Manage', and finally click 'Install'.
Then upload your template zip folder and Joomla will automatically install it.
Next, in the 'Extensions' menu, select 'Templates' and then press the 'Styles' button.
You'll see a list of all the installed Joomla templates. Click on your new template's name.
The last step is to tell Joomla to use your new template for all pages. In the 'Default' drop-down menu, select 'All', and then press 'Save & Close'.
6. Create a Joomla Article
Once you've given your Joomla site a personalized finish, why not add some content? To start adding a Joomla article, open the 'Content' menu, then hit 'Article' and 'Add New Article'.
This will open the Joomla Article Editor.
Yes, I know, it does look a little like Windows 98 but don't worry - as long as you have chosen a decent template, your published material should look sleek and modern.
The sidebar is the most important part of the Joomla Editor: make sure you don't leave the 'Published' option turned on in the 'Status' menu while drafting.
The 'Category' field is also worth paying close attention to. On a Joomla site, readers will largely find your articles through menus, and the category you assign an article will determine the menu it appears under.
When you've finished creating your first article, click 'Save & Close'.
Inspiration: Joomla Site Examples
Now that you've got to grips with the basics of setting up a Joomla site, what can you do with it? I'll leave you with some inspiring Joomla site examples.
If you want to create a journalism blog or news website, The Hill demonstrates that Joomla is powerful enough to run a major media outlet.
Meanwhile, if you fancy creating something a little more artistic, New York's Guggenheim art museum page is another big-name website run on Joomla.
And finally, this small multinational group, called IKEA, that designs and sells ready-to-assemble appliances and furniture all over the globe, uses Joomla for their website:
Joomla is a serious toolkit which can power any kind of website you care to create. Once you've gotten your site set up, be sure to explore the different features included in your Joomla Control Panel by default, including advanced options like scheduled posting.
If you've created your own Joomla masterpiece using this tutorial, share your thoughts in the comments below!