Joomla.org is a self-hosted, open-source content management system (CMS) that is written in PHP and designed for publishing website content. Joomla uses object-oriented programming and a MySQL database.
Created in 2005, Joomla (sometimes seen as Joomla! or J!) quickly became one of the most popular CMS options on the web after its initial release. Today, Joomla powers almost 2 million websites, including 10% of the world’s business sites. It’s one of the most popular content management systems, second only to WordPress.
Wondering whether Joomla is right for your web publishing needs? Learn more about the features of this open-source CMS to decide if it’s a good fit for your online content.
What is Joomla used for?
Joomla is primarily used for creating website content, such as:
- Personal blogs
- Professional portfolios
- Small business websites
- Corporate websites
- E-commerce websites
- Government websites
- Organization websites (non-profits, schools, churches, etc.)
- Online publications (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
For web developers, Joomla also offers a lightweight PHP framework that makes it possible to build powerful online applications.
Joomla is an open-source content management system, which means that it’s free to use under the General Public License (GPL). Joomla can remain free because it’s supported by Open Source Matters, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is 100% run by volunteers.
However, there are some optional services and features which may add costs to running a Joomla website.
With the free version of Joomla, you’ll get a site name that looks like this: yoursite.joomla.com. But if you want to remove “joomla” from your address, you’ll need to purchase a domain name separately.
Once you select a domain name, you need web hosting services. Make sure the hosting service you choose is compatible with Joomla, then select a plan that works for your needs.
Many Joomla extensions are free. However, some paid extensions are available as well. For example, you may want to pay for your Joomla site to have a specific e-commerce plugin or reservation booking module.
It’s easy to build a basic website with Joomla. But if you need something a little more advanced, you’ll probably need to hire a professional web developer.
Some of the key features of the Joomla CMS include:
You can customize your Joomla site in countless ways by using extensions to enable site features, change the way your website looks, or add new functionality.
Joomla allows for multiple users to have access to the back end of a website or application. A number of permission levels are available to determine which functions each contributor is able to access.
Search engine optimization
Joomla comes with a number of search engine optimization (SEO) tools built right in, which helps boost a site’s searchability. Additional SEO extensions can be installed as well.
Joomla uses two-factor authentication to help keep sites safe. In addition, there’s a dedicated Security Strike Team which works on developing patches to protect against specific threats.
Joomla is a good choice for websites and applications that may need to grow and expand in the future. It’s easy to add features and functionality as needed and update your site over time.
One of the best ways to expand the functionality of the Joomla open-source CMS is to use extensions. These add-ons, such as templates, modules, and plugins, are easy to install on the back end and allow each user to customize their Joomla website with additional functions.
There are around 6,000 extensions available in the Joomla Extensions Directory. Additional extensions are available from other third-party sources.
Joomla extensions can be found in a wide range of categories, including:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media
- Contact forms
- Community forums
- Image displays
- Reservation systems
- Site navigation
- Data reports
- User management
Some of the most popular types of Joomla extensions are templates, which affect the way a site looks. Most of these are front-end templates, which determine a site’s aesthetics from a visitor’s perspective. Essentially, these templates change the way a site appears when someone navigates to its web address.
Joomla has some back-end templates available as well. These templates affect the administrator interface and are generally used for accessibility reasons (like color blindness) and for complex web application development.
How to use Joomla
Joomla is relatively easy for beginners to use. Here are some of the essential details about using Joomla to create your own website or application.
How to install Joomla
There are two ways to install Joomla:
- Go to the Joomla Downloads Portal to get full access to the most recent version of this open-source content management system (currently Joomla 4). This is also where you’ll find Joomla language packages for multilingual versions of the CMS.
- Start a Joomla website without a download by going to launch.joomla.org. You’ll get a free site with all the key Joomla features and PHP MyAdmin and FTP access. There are some limitations with launch.joomla.org, like only 500MB of disk space, but it’s a great way to test out whether you want to commit to a Joomla site without a download.
How to publish content on Joomla
Users generally need to create categories for their content before posting articles. The article editor is quite similar to the one used in WordPress, which is known for being user-friendly thanks to its options for WYSIWYG and HTML views.
The content and application framework isn’t as intimidating as some of the more complicated options, like Drupal. However, the admin control panels can be a bit complex for someone without any experience in web development.
How to update Joomla
Need to update to a newer version of Joomla? You’ll find everything you need in the Joomla Downloads Portal.
This page features upgrade packages as well as instructions for migrating sites from older versions of Joomla.
If you need assistance when using Joomla, there are a number of helpful resources you can utilize, including the following support options:
- Online manuals
- Video tutorials
- Official Joomla forum
- Troubleshooting help
If you’re looking for a CMS option that’s easy to use and offers excellent options for scalability, Joomla might be a good fit for your needs. Check out these guides to learn more about other options for publishing website content: