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Understanding Your Joomla Website

Essential back-ground reading for all ConsultMe.org Joomla!™ website clients, this article will help you to understand the structure of your new website and the terminology used in our guides so that you can confidently manage and expand your site.

As a client of ConsultMe.org we will work with you to create the right content structure and navigation system as part of the initial design process so you will not need to worry too much about some of the concepts discussed here, however a good basic understanding of the ways in which content can be organised will help you to make the most of your investment and minimise on-going costs.

Key Joomla™ concepts

  • Articles are the content of your site. Articles maybe sorted into Categories and Sections, or just left uncategorised.
  • Menus contain Menu Items which the user can click to display your content.
  • Modules are "boxes" that may contain Menus, information, adverts or anything else and can be placed in any Position on any page.
  • Templates are the visual design of your website and can contain various Positions for Modules to be displayed.

 

Sections, Categories and Articles

Joomla  website structure concepts
Articles, Sections and Categories Illustration.

Articles are the heart of your content. While the name "Article" tends to imply "news", in fact an Article can be any page of information for your website including text, images, movies or applications. Welcome pages, product and company information pages as well as news articles or user guides are all examples of pages you'd create an Article for on your Joomla website. The page you are reading right now is itself an example of an Article.

As illustrated above, Articles can be sorted into Categories within Sections for easy organisation, or they can be left uncategorised and stand alone. There are many types of website where organising the content for the visitor into Sections and Categories is exactly what you will need, obvious examples include news areas and websites with many products or services to present to the visitor. However if not appropriate to your website you can either leave your Articles uncategorised or use the Sections and Categories system to sort content in a way convenient to you as the administrator from a back-end perspective, and present a quite different structure to your visitor front-end (website) using your own Menu structure.

Most sites will have a mix of flat uncategorised content and structured product/service/news sections.

 

Menus

Example Menu Structure
Menu Items can link to anything within your structure.

Joomla! websites provide a powerful menu system that allows you to add new Menu Items, or whole new Menus, to some or all of your pages, in a variety of Positions on the page (see Modules below). Menus contain Menu Items which are used to display content, they can point directly to an Article or to summary pages of all Categories within a Section or all Articles within a Category, the later two being ways in which structured content can be automatically displayed and linked within your website structure. For example a Menu Item linking to a Category display will automatically show all Articles in that category summarised on one page with links to read each article in more detail. Hence to add new content simply create a new Article in that Category and that's it, it's live immediately with no need to manually create Menu Items to the Article.

Your website will contain a Main Menu displayed as part of the design template on all pages. Typically this will be along the top of the screen, or in a column to the left or right of the page. You can easily create new Menus to provide links to relevant content for your users and choose using the Module manager to display these on selected pages, in one of a number of locations on your website that we will have defined as part of the design process.

It's important to understand that Menus in Joomla! are much more than just links to a page, the configuration of the Menu Item determines how the content will be shown to the user, what details and features will be available on the page it opens and much more.

 

Modules

Think of Joomla! Modules as multi-purpose boxes that can be displayed in one or more of a number of defined Positions on your website. The boxes might contain Menus, automatic latest news headlines, static HTML or text, advertising banners or anything else you can display on the web.

To display a Menu on your website you need to not only have completed the steps above to create an Article and a Menu with Menu Items that point to that Article, you also need to make sure that the Menu is assigned to a Module and that Module is displayed on the desired pages of your website in your chosen Position.

 

Templates and Positions

Template Positions
Template preview showing some of the available Positions

Templates are the core visual design of your website. Here at ConsultMe.org we create the base design, navigation system and visual appearance to your specification involving you throughout the process to ensure the site meets you functional and aesthetic needs. As well as defining the header graphics, menu appearance, fonts, colours, size and many more aspects of your website design, Templates also define where content and Modules may be shown on your website. These slots are called Positions. For example your website might have a Position for the main menu below the header graphics at the top of the page, followed by a Position for an advertising banner, and then three or four Positions across the page for key information as well as a right-hand column for banners, sub menus or any other Modules you might wish to display.

These Positions within a Template are invisible unless you assign a Module to them, so provide a flexible means of positioning content on some or all of your pages in addition to the main page content. For example a different side menu can be assigned to different Sections or an advertising banner only be shown on the Home page. The flexibility of assigning different Modules to different Positions within your Template allow you to easily build complex, targeted, user friendly pages.

Your site may have more than one Template, if your design requires it we will provide multiple themed templates, for example a home page template might have no side columns, a news section template which has a right hand column for showing related stories or links, and a product section template which has a left-hand column for a sub menu to link to downloads and further information. The possibilities are endless and using your back-end control panel you'll be able to assign different Templates to different Menu Items to display Articles or Section/Category pages in different ways, with different Modules providing extra information and links assigned to the desired Positions in that template to achieve the desired appearance and functionality.

Please see the other articles in this section for specific help on adding content, menus and modules to your site.

 

ConsultMe.org is based in the Cotswolds, England where we develop websites and provide IT support for small businesses, clubs and community groups, schools and nurseries, entrepreneurs, home users and not for profit organisations.

We service Gloucestershire including Cheltenham, Stow, Bourton, Northleach, Gloucester, Cirencester, Tewkesbury, Evesham, Stroud, Tetbury and the surrounding areas, though with today's communications tools we can work with you effectively, no matter where you are in the world.

Joomla!™ is the trademark of Open Source Matters Inc in the United States and other countries. ConsultMe.org claim no affiliation with or ownership of this mark and use it here only to refer to the product for educational purposes.

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