So, you need a web publishing system and you've decided that WordPress is just too mainstream, so you've gone with the extra functionality of Joomla. Welcome to the club!
Of course the extra flexibility brings some extra complexity, but it's nothing that can't be overcome and it will result in your having a great site. In the rest of this article I'll assume that you know about as much about Joomla as I did when I started this site, which is pretty much nothing.
Joomla is a big complex system, but most of the time you don't care about that. Most of the time you'll be doing the following:
- Write an article.
- Attach photos or images to the article.
- Assign a category to the article
- Assign tags to the article.
- Add metadata.
- Add copyright information.
- Publish your article
- Bask in the adoration of your fans!
Actually Doing It
The order that you need to approach things might be slightly different from above list, but then it depends on how much work you've done on your site. The most important thing to remember is that you can always go back and change things if you're not happy with them.
The category you assign to each article dictates where it gets displayed. Normally if you don't assign a category, your article will appear on the front page of your Joomla site. If you created extra categories, for example "Blog", "Recipe", "News", then they'll appear under separate menu items on your front page.
If you only have one category, or if you haven't set up any categories, you probably don't need to assign a category.
If you want to add categories they're under Content | Categories | Add New Category.
Tags are a great way to show the subjects that your article covers, and if you click on a tag on the top of an article it will show a list of all of the articles with that tag. Joomla doesn't come with any configured so you'll need to add them yourself. Try to add some before you create your articles, but even if you can't think of any you can add more later. They're under the Components | Tags menu item, and you can create, edit, delete and save them as you want.
Most of your articles are going to contain images, so you'll need to get them ready to upload. It might seem like the best thing to do is just to upload them as you need to, but that's a bad idea. You need to think of the future, when you have hundreds of articles and thousands of images - putting all of those in a single folder would cause chaos. Chaos for you that is. Don't do it.
You should organize your images on your local hard drive, and then upload them to your Joomla server. On your local drive you might want to put the images in a directory under Pictures, something like:
The name of the directory that you store the pictures in, "article-name" in the example above, should be the alias of the article. But, you don't know the alias because you haven't written the article yet. Don't worry though, because you know the title and, as you'll see below, you can get Joomla to calculate the alias from the title. The catch is that Joomla won't display the alias until you've saved the article for the first time, which means you have to write and save the article, open it again, get the alias, close the article again. rename your directory locally, create a matching directory in Joomla, upload your images, re-open your article and add your image references.
This is not ideal.
Alternatively, copy your article title into the "Article Title" box below, and then click the "Calculate the Alias" button. Don't worry, nothing leaves your computer - I'm not secretly collecting article titles:
Test Conversion Article Titles To Alias
Now copy the alias, paste it in a text editor somewhere safe, and use it as the name for the directory where you store your images.
I normally put all of the images for each article in this directory, then run through and edit them until they look right and they're the right size (normally about 1000 pixels across). Normally photographs would be saved as JPG images with around 80% image quality, but diagrams and drawings with text, lines and so on would be saved as PNG, because PNG images don't lose any details when they're saved.
While you're editing your pictures, make sure you set the metadata (it's in the file properties dialog in Windows) so that your name appears in the copyright data, as well as all of the information you can fit into the other fields.
Once you've got all of your images ready and stored in the correct directory, choose one to be displayed on the front page with the article. Normally this will be the same image that's shown at the top of the page when you display the article. Usually you'll just copy the image you want, and resize it to about 300 pixels across. Save it as "intro.jpg".
Open your Joomla admin page in your browser and open the Content | Media page. If you don't have a folder (shown in the left column) called articles, create it with the "Create New Folder" button.
Select that folder and create a folder with the same name as your article's alias.
Select this new folder and then use the "Upload" button to upload all of your images. Joomla has a limit of how much data it can upload at a time, so you might have to upload several images at a time instead of all of them at once.
This part is, obviously, entirely up to you. There are quite a few fields to fill out when you create an article so I'll run through them one at a time.
The Article Content Page
The article content page lets you set the article title, text, category and tags.
By default when you click "Add Article" Joomla gives you two editors that you can switch between using the "Toggle Editor" button. They are:
The Standard Editor
This is the editor that is displayed when you first show the "Add Article" page. It works in pretty much the same way as a regular word processor - you type in the content and add styles for headings, paragraphs, lists and so on.
The HTML Editor
If you're keen to edit your text as raw HTML, or if you want to add custom scripts or styles, this is the editor to use. Otherwise you don't need to worry too much about it.
While you're creating your article, make sure you use plenty of headers, links to other sites and other articles on your own site - this all helps you ingratiate yourself with search engines. Don't forget to add links to your pictures using the "Image" button on the menu - this will take you to the root directory of the media folder, where you can go to:
Don't forget to add captions, titles and alternative text for people with screen readers; they, and search engines, will love you for it!
Also, make sure you use the "Read More" button to add a break after the first paragraph or two. This will make sure only that much of your article is displayed on your front page, so that it doesn't overwhelm it. On the front page, users will be encouraged to click on the article to read all of it. The limit of the text displayed on the front page is shown by a red dotted line across your article.
You'll also need to add a title for your article - you can set the alias too, which will form part of the article's URL. Generally I wouldn't bother, because if you leave this field alone, Joomla will create an alias from the title you provide.
In the screen shot below you can see these fields and the options you get on the contents page. The main ones, apart from the title and contents of the article are the category and tags. You can also see the dotted red "Read More" line in the text:
To the right of the "Content" tab is the "Images And Links" tab. This doesn't add images in the text of your document, it controls the preview image displayed on the front page under the title of your article, and the picture that appears at the top of your article. Links, which you can use for citations, references or anything else, will appear on the right of your page in addition to any you add in your article.
On the publishing tab, there are quite a few fields which you'll need to fill out, so it's probably best to work through them one by one.
Start Publishing: This is the date and time you want to start publishing the article. The help text says it's optional - if you want you can override it by going back to the content tab and setting the status to "Published". Decide whether you want to schedule the article to appear automatically at some time in the future put a time and date here. If you want to publish it manually, leave this blank. If you want to publish it as soon as you save it, set the status to "Published".
Finish Publishing: If you have an article that you want to disappear at a certain time, fill out this field. Normally you'd ignore it.
Creation Date: This field is automatically filled out with the date and time that you created the article. You can change this if you want, but normally you won't want to.
Created By: You should always fill this field so that it's obvious that you created the article. Click on the button on the right, and select your account from the list that's displayed.
Created By Alias: If your real name isn't the same as your account name, you might want to put your real name here.
Meta Description: This is a brief summary of your article. When your article appears on Google or Bing, this is the text that gets displayed. It will also be displayed when you put links to your page on social media.
Meta Keywords: Opinions vary on whether it's worth filling out this field - search engines used to take the contents of this comma-separated word list into account, but they seem to be less important now. It might be worth adding some words related to your article though.
Content Rights: This is where you make it clear whether you're making your work available on some sort of open source, share-alike or creative commons license, or whether you're reserving all rights to your content. I usually put something like "Copyright 2018 Jason Ross, All Rights Reserved".
Below is a screen shot which should give you an idea of what a completed tab should look like:
Once you've filled these fields, it's time to decide - do you want to publish now or later? If you want to publish it later, set a time and date in the "Start Publishing" field, otherwise go back to the content tab and set the status to "Published". In any case, once you've done wither of these, hit the "Save & Close" button.
Depending on whether you put a date and time in the "Start Publishing" field, your article is either published or waiting to automatically be published. Either way your article is finished, at least until you decide to make any changes to it, maybe to change the text, styles, pictures or anything else.
Now it's time to start on your next article!