Joomla 3+ comes with two sides, the front end and the back end. The front end is what the visitor sees when he/she types the domain name for your site into the address bar of a browser. The back end, or Administrative interface, is where you go to control the website. You use the Admin side to set up menus, install extensions, change settings, add modules, etc.

To get to the Administrative Interface of a Joomla 3+ installation, you must first login. Open up a browser, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Opera, and enter your domain name followed by a forward slash followed by the word administrator.

http://websitename.com/administrator

adminloginscreen

You will come to a login form.

This login form is where you type in your login and password that was entered during the initial configuration of the Joomla site.

To log into the back end of a Joomla site, your user account must be at the Administrator or Super Administrator access level. 

The Administrative Interface

The first screen you come to is the Control Panel. Along the top are drop down menus that take you to the various sections of the Administrative interface.

System Settings

First there are the System settings that you start off with when you install your site.  These are things like your site name, hosting information, database information, site email address, etc.  

Content: Categories and Articles

Then there is the Content.  Content consists of Categories, Articles and Media.  Categories are the different focus areas that you have on your site. They are used to organize and display your Articles in a meaningful way. Articles are where you put the words, the photos, the videos for the content. Media is the images and the videos.

Menus

Then you have the Menu or Menus.  This is the navigational aspect of the site.  They can be displayed across the top, down the side, at the bottom.  There can also be lists of articles or categories contained in the content area itself.

Components

The Components are the functionality of the site or what Joomla calls "mini-applications".  Joomla comes with a standard set of components, but you can install what are called Extensions that add specific functionality.  The standard set of components are Banners, Contacts, Messaging, Newsfeeds, Search and Weblinks.  Components can either be something to modify the Administrative side of the site and/or the Front End of the site.

Extensions

As far as Extensions go, they list the most popular and safe ones at extensions.joomla.org.  They can be free or they require purchasing.  They are created by third party companies that are not part of the Joomla.org. Some examples of extensions are ones that create slideshows, membership tracking, social media plugins, shopping carts, etc. Joomla 3.+ now allows you to see a display of Extensions and upload them directly to your Joomla installation right through the Administrative Interface. You can also download them from the 3rd party provider and upload them through the Extension Manager as was done with earlier versions of Joomla.

Modules

Modules are the things that you put on the side of your content (though they also can be included inside the content).  They are created using Module Manager. Modules hold things like your sites menus, advertisements, specialty links, archived articles, breadcrumbs, Newsreels, Search boxes, etc. Modules are placed into what are known as Positions.

Modules are assigned to Positions. Positions are established by whatever front-end template you are using.  Some templates have numbered positions, others have named positions. Positions are areas of the page like the left column, the top, above the content, below the content and the footer area.

Plugins

Plugins are specialized event handlers.  They often are packaged in with the extension that you uploaded.  In some cases you need to go to the Plugin Manager and activate them for a specific task to be preformed.

Users

Users are all of the people that use your site.  Users, other than the general public, are assigned User Names and given Passwords, the are assigned to a User Group.  The User Group a assigned Access Level.  The Access Level defines what parts of the web site the Users can access, as well as what they can edit, delete, create and control.

Templates

Templates determine the basic layout of the site. Usually they modify the Front End but there are Back end templates as well.  Templates set where the Positions are located: ie the columns, the logo, the content area and the footer.  Some third-party templates have extensive options that you can select to minimize how much styling you need to do by hand.  Templates contain the CSS stylesheets where you can go in and alter the colors, fonts, and physical features of your site.  They can be very specific on the look and layout or they can be minimalistic, letting you manipulate how you want the layout to look. The default Template for a Joomla 3.+ installation is the Protostar Template.

Languages

The Language that Joomla uses is also something that you can control. Joomla is used all over the world, and the Administrative Interface can have one or many languages assigned to it.  You may need to install an Extension that allows multi-lingual support. Joomla 3.+ has greatly expanded the language functionality.

plugin-managerPlugins are another type of Joomla Extension. Plug-ins provide funtionality that is associated with Trigger Events. Joomla has many plugins that come with the core installation, but any Extensions that are installed may have their own plug-ins.

Some example Plug-ins would be the Search box, Authentification for Joomla, and the Captcha-Recaptcha.  Generally you don't need to enable or dissable the core Joomla plugins unless it is determined that they are conflicting with a third-party plugin. 

Occasionally, you will find that you need to enable a third-party plug-in after installing an Extension.  The Extension developer may have it installed as disabled so that it isn't using up system resources unless it it needed.

If you navigate to Plug-in Manager under the Extensions dropdown, you can click on the name of the Plug-in.  There will certain settings that you can change depending on the Plug-in itself.

wooden-blocksJoomla is a very extensive CMS, Content Management System, that is capable of creating very simple websites to elaborate websites. The many options and settings can be overwhelming and intimidating to the first time user. We believe that it is best to start with the simple concepts and then when those are understood, to expand into other features on an as needed basis.

The most basic thing that you need on a web site is content. Next comes a way to access that content with some sort of navigation

Steps to Get Started

You may be creating a brand new website or revamping a site that has been around for some time. Before starting out on creating a Joomla web site, you need to have a few basics set up:

  • Purchase a domain name: this is the URL for your site, AKA the web address. You purchase this from a hosting company such as GoDaddy, InMotion, etc. 
  • Set up a hosting account: you need to be sure that your web hosting account meets the minimum requirements for Joomla. Click here for the list of requirements.
  • A basic layout for your website: header, columns, functionality, navigation
  • Content: it is easier to be sure a website looks right if you have some content and pages in which to test it
  • Images: your logo, graphics, etc.

The user-friendly interface of Joomla utilizes web languages and code in the background. This would be HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQueryPHP and a MySQL Database to present your content and arrange it on a web browser in just the way you want. It is possible to use a Joomla site, edit content, create new pages, upload images, and create navigation without knowing the web languages and code. In order to set up a site from scratch, it is good to have a working understanding of these concepts.

Install a Joomla 3+ website

To get started working with a Joomla 3+ website, you must have it installed on a hosting server or your local computer.

Read this article for instructions on: Installing a Joomla 3 site

Front End vs Back End

Front End

The front end of your Joomla site is what the visitor sees when they type in your domain name in a browser address bar or click on a link. The front end includes all of the pages that you can navigate to from the menus or other links as well.

Logging into the front end

There may be a need for certain people to log into the front end of a Joomla site. These people may be:

  • Registered Users log in to see restricted content or to make comments
  • Contributors log in to add or edit content
  • Administrators log in to add, edit, delete or publish content

Logging into the back end

The back end or Administrative Interface of your Joomla 3 site is where site administrators control the workings of the site. This is where content is added, global configuration settings are controlled, extensions are installed, templates are enabled and controlled, menus are created, contact information is added, and users accounts are controlled, as well as many other functions.

To get to the administrative side, open up a browser window. In the address bar, you type in your domain name followed by a forward slash followed by the word administrator. For example:

http://mydomainname.com/administrator

Next: Understanding the Admin Menu

extension-managerExtensions are software that works with the core Joomla installation, but extends it's functionality in some manner.  An Extension might allow you to have a slideshow for your graphics, enable you to create subscriptions and memberships, set up an event calendar, create an interface for e-commerce and a shopping cart, or multiple other things.

The core installation of Joomla has built in Extensions.  For other specific functionality you can visit  extensions.joomla.org and browse through hundreds of other extensions.  The Extensions listed there are by third party developers that have specifically written the software to work with the Joomla environment. Some Extensions are free, others require that you purchase them through the third party developers.  If the Extensions are listed on the Joomla site, they are generally considered safe.  You can find Extensions that are not on this list, but you could introduce your site to security risks and or cause you site to break or have conflict with other extensions.

There is a list of known Extensions that have had vulnerability problems.  You can find this list at  docs.joomla.org/Vulnerable_Extensions_List.  Some of these Extensions on this list have had bug fixes, so pay attention to what version had the vulnerability.

Another thing to watch out for is for what version of Joomla the Extension is written. Joomla has been around for quite some time and there are several versions.  The most common versions that you will see on the Extension list are 1.5, 2.5 and 3.0. You must match the version of Joomla in which your site is written before installing it.

Caution:  It is good practice to backup your site and your database before installing any Extension.  These software programs are written by separate companies and there can be conflicts that break your site.  If you have a backup, you can restore your site to the state it was in prior to installing the Extension relatively easily if you have a recent backup.

core-component-listComponents are units of functionality for Joomla. Components perform a specific set of tasks. . Certain components come with the initial core installation of Joomla, but when you upload an extension, chances are it will add an additional Component to your Joomla installation.  Joomla's documentation calls components "mini-applications".  

The tasks that a component performs are controlled by the settings on the Administrative Interface.  Most components will have a Front End aspect to them as well although some just add Back End features.

The core Joomla Components in the drop down list are Banners, Contacts, Joomla Update, Messaging, Newsfeeds, Post-installation Messages, Redirect, Search, Smart Search and Weblinks.  The Components are there if you choose to use them, but you may find that you use some and not others.  Some components will not be accessible until you Enable them with the Plug-In manager under the Extensions pulldown menu.

Each of these core components will be covered in the  joom3 Administrative Interface section.

If you have installed 3rd Party Extensions, you will likely see additional items in this list.

Learn By Example

Back to Susie Catlover and her web site All About Cats.  She will be using the Components section to set up Banner Ads on her site, to set up a Contact Form for people to fill out on her site to contact her with comments and questions. If she changes the name or location of pages on her website, she can use the Redirect component to redirect the URL of a previous web page to a new web page. That way, visitors won't get frustrating 404 Error pages.  It is also good for SEO. 

The Newsfeed Component allows you to easily add news feeds from other websites to your own site.  The Messaging Component allows you to set up private messaging between users.  

As her website grows, Susie will utilize the Smart Search Component so that people can quickly find content on a specified topic. Once Susie's website becomes popular, she will be able to analyse for what people are looking with the Search component. She will also be able to create, remove and monitor links to outside websites with the Weblinks components.

If Susie decides to extend the functionality of her website with Joomla Extensions, there will be more items added to the dropdown menu under Components.