If you want to try developing a Joomla website, but you aren't ready to commit to the hosting and domain name costs that are involved, you can now set up a Joomla site at Joomla.com

The folks at Joomla! now offer a free hosted website solution in partnership with Siteground. This is the Joomla! answer to Wordpress.com where thousands of people have set up their own Wordpress site.

This free service will provide a fantastic way for Joomla novices to give Joomla a try. It is also great for people that need a website, but don't want to support the costs of hosting and domain name registration.

Features of Joomla.com hosted web sites

  • Free hosting
  • Free site name (URL will end with .joomla.com)
  • Unlimited time period
  • Basis standard publishing features
  • Limited expandability
  • Pre-selected templates available
  • Pre-installed extensions
    • Google Maps
    • Google Anaylitics
    • Disqus powered comments
    • Social media sharing
  • No advertising
  • 50 different languages offered
  • Add additional user accounts
  • Easy upgrade to a full fledge Joomla website with custom domain (at a cost)
  • Joomla files and database can be moved to external hosting service
  • Hosting servers kept up to date for latest Joomla releases

Who would benefit from Joomla.com hosting?

This service can be used by:

  • individuals that want to start their own blog
  • non-profits organizations that need a basic website for no cost
  • web developers that want to become familiar with the Joomla interface

How is Joomla.com different than demo.joomla.org?

The big difference is that you can keep a web site on Joomla.com for an unlimited amount of time. The demo.joomla.org web site is set up for those who want to learn the Joomla interface, but it has a 90-day time limit.

How do I sign up for a Joomla.com website?

♦ Go to joomla.com.

♦ Type in the subdomain name for your site. If someone else has already chosen that subdomain, you will have to enter something else. This establishes a subdomain name that will be appended to joomla.com. For this example, we will use the subdomain of zerbil. Our website URL will be zerbil.joomla.com

♦ Enter a legitimate email address. They will send a confirmation email to this address to complete the registration process. This email address will also be required when you login to access your Joomla.com site.

♦ Enter a secure password. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters. Keep this handy, you will need it to log in to set up your website.

♦ Agree to the terms of service (not a bad idea to read it first)

♦ Look in your email inbox for the confirmation email. Click on the provided link.

♦ Once your account has been confirmed, you will receive an additional email with tips for logging in and links to help pages.

♦ You can now login at Joomla.com with your email address and password to get your site up and running.

Your Joomla.com website

Initial screen of a Joomla.com website

Once you have logged into Joomla.com you will be taken to a screen with a video the give you quick instructions on accessing your site.

Your new Joomla.com site exists as soon as you finish the confirmation process. It is a basic site, built with the Joomla Protostar template with default content and image.  There is only the one front page. It will be up to you to create your own content and pages.

Access your new website's front end

You can see your new site by typing in the name of your site into a browser address bar. If you have logged into Joomla.com, you can also see the front end of your website by clicking on the name of the site at the first screen.

Change the template

To get to the page with the available templates, click on the little gear symbol and select Change Template.

From each template option you can see a demo of the template with sample content. If you change your template after you have entered module for the old template, the modules will still be in the database, but may not appear on the site due to the change in position names.

If you click on Select, you are given the option of installing the template With Sample Data or Blank.  The Sample Data will insert articles into your Joomla database. This is nice to see how your site might function. It also puts multiple modules into the various module positions for that template. You will have to trash or unpublish these modules and articles if you want them off your website.

Each time you install a template using this interface, that template will be included in the list in Template Manager, so you can switch back to another template if you wish.

Access the Joomla Administrative pages

To access the Control Panel for your new website, Click on Access Admin. You will be taken to the Administrative side of your Joomla website. It looks pretty much like the backend of any Joomla 3+ website. If you are already familiar with Joomla, you will notice a few differences. You will also notice a few features are missing. This is a basic starter website. If you want to move up a full featured Joomla website, you can always start here, then move this site to your own hosting environment.

The downside to a having a website on Joomla.com

The biggest downside to having a website on Joomla.com is that it does not allow you to install any extensions. Extension Manager is not even accessible. Since extensions are the best features for Joomla websites, this is indeed a disabling aspect of websites on Joomla.com as far as learning Joomla.

You must "upgrade" your Joomla site in order to be able to install extensions. If you click on upgrade, you will see the various options offered to have your site hosted with SiteGround. The plans offered are at a discounted price, but will likely increase in price after the first year.

Click on this to read more about this service: http://www.joomla.org/announcements/general-news/5580-joomla-offers-free-hosted-website-solution-on-joomla-com-in-partnership-with-siteground.html