Nowadays, there's no shortage of Content Management Systems that can be used to build a powerful website for your company, personal blog, or online magazine. One such CMS is Joomla. Joomla is similar to Drupal and WordPress, considering all three of those platforms use the same programming language, have themes that control the visual layout, and use plugins to add extra functionality.
However, Joomla is often considered the middle ground between WordPress and Drupal in terms of complexity. It's more advanced in some features than WordPress, but doesn't require extensive technological knowledge like Drupal. Nevertheless, it's a popular choice of many users and power websites such as Harvard University, Unric, Guggenheim Museum, and others.
In today's post, we'll discuss why Joomla is a great choice, talk about Joomla templates and where to find them, as well as how to install your chosen template. Let's dive in!
Why Choose Joomla?
Joomla is a great choice for anyone who needs to build a website with social networking features or an online store. Joomla comes with several benefits, including:
- Advanced social networking features. Joomla makes it easy to create social networks which allow you to add even more value to your visitors and potential clients.
- Advanced e-commerce settings. Joomla has better native support for e-commerce functionality than WordPress so it's easy to set up an online store.
- Ease of use. Even though Joomla offers more advanced features, it's still easy to use even for people who have never built a website before.
- Help portal and lively community. If this is your first time working with Joomla, you'll find there's no lack of support and documentation to answer your questions and guide you through the process of familiarizing yourself with what this CMS has to offer. Aside from the help portal, you can browse through Joomla's documentation and find plenty of tutorials all around the internet.
- Free. Like WordPress and Drupal, Joomla is free to download and use.
For a comparison between Joomla and some other CMS choices, study this tutorial:
Where to Find Joomla Themes
When it comes to Joomla themes, you can find both free and paid themes. Even though there isn't an official repository of free Joomla templates, there are several websites such as Joomla24 that offer free Joomla templates. It's worth mentioning that finding the right theme might be a little tricky considering there are no extensive filtering options.
There are also third-party marketplaces such as Envato Elements and ThemeForest that offer high-quality, premium Joomla templates. You’ll find templates that are suitable for a variety of industries so you can easily create business, portfolio, personal, or social networking site. Here are just some of the great Joomla themes you'll find on Envato Elements:
You can filter and see themes based on the category so you can easily browse nothing but themes for business sites or choose to focus on magazine, e-commerce, portfolio or a different industry. Or, browse through 20 of our best Joomla Templates to find the one you like best.
Before you start your search for a Joomla theme, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Joomla Template vs Joomla Quickstart
Joomla templates control the way your website looks. They often include various customization options as well so you can easily change the colors and fonts used as well as tweak other design settings. As such, Joomla templates are perfect if you already have an existing website and want to change how it looks.
But, if you're setting up your site for the first time and want to speed up the design process, look for a template that includes a Quickstart package. Unlike a template, a Quickstart comes with all the Joomla files as well as all the extensions, sample data, and images that were used in the demo version of the template. In essence, a Quickstart package will not only make your site look exactly like the demo, it'll also take care of the Joomla installation for you.
Should You Choose a Free or Paid Template?
As we mentioned earlier, you can find both free and paid templates for Joomla. While free templates might seem like an obvious choice, there are a few things to keep in mind. Let's go over the pros and cons of both free and paid templates.
Pros and Cons of Free Joomla Templates
On the pro side, free Joomla templates come with no price tag. The downside of no price tag is the fact that free templates often lack extensive customization options and more advanced features. In such cases, you'll need to hire someone to either customize the site for you or develop the functionality you need.
Another downside of free templates is that there's no official support from the developer and no guarantee that they'll continue developing and maintaining a free template. This means that further down the road, your chosen template will no longer be compatible with new Joomla releases.
Pros and Cons of Paid Joomla Themes
On the other hand, paid templates found on various third-party marketplaces have numerous features and customization options that make them easy to use even if you're a complete beginner.
Paid templates include thorough documentation and support from the template developer. This means that not only do you get access to instructions and guidance on how to set up your template, you can also contact the developer and get support and help.
Lastly, keep in mind that the cost of a paid theme is significantly less than hiring a developer to create a custom design or paying for continuous fixes and functionality development that the chosen free template is missing.
Free or Paid?
The ultimate choice between a free and a paid template depends on you. If you're just starting out with Joomla, a free template can help you understand how templates work and allow you to get used to styling and customizing your website.
But, if you're a business owner and want to make a professional website, then a paid template will serve you better because of the pros mentioned above and is a worthwhile business investment.
How to Install a Theme in Joomla
Now that you know the difference between a template and a Quickstart package as well as whether you should go with a free or premium theme, it's time to install your chosen template. We'll cover the steps needed to install a regular template as well as how to install the Quickstart package.
Installing a Joomla Template
To install a regular Joomla template, follow the steps outlined below.
Step 1. Log In to Your Joomla Control Panel
Begin by logging into your Joomla control panel with the username and password you've set up during the installation process.
Step 2. Navigate to Extensions
Under the Extensions menu, click Manage > Install. Then, choose the "Upload Package File" option.
Step 3. Upload the Template
On the following screen, upload your chosen template by selecting the "Choose file" option. Find the downloaded template file and drag it over, then click "Upload & Install" button. Once the template has been installed, you'll see a green notification in your Joomla control panel.
Step 4. Activate Your New Template
The last step is to make the newly installed template default for all the pages on your site. To do this, go to Extensions > Templates > Styles. Here, click the star icon next your template to make it the active template.
Now that the template has been installed, you can start adding your content, modules, components, and any other extension you need to create your website.
Installing Joomla Quickstart Packages
Another option to launch your Joomla website is to install the Joomla Quickstart package. This option is perfect for beginners as it speeds up the process of installing Joomla and then the template one by one.
To install the Quickstart package, you'll need to follow the steps outlined below.
Step 1. Upload the Quickstart Package to the Server
Start by logging into your hosting account and navigating to your control panel. Use the login credentials provided by your host for your cPanel. Once you’re logged in, navigate to File Manager, select /public_html folder, and click Upload.
Find the downloaded zip file of your chosen Quickstart package and drag it to the file uploader. Once it's uploaded, you can extract it and proceed with the rest of the installation steps.
In case your hosting provider uses a different control panel that doesn't allow you to upload files directly or extract them after upload, you can use an FTP program such as FileZilla.
Step 2. Create a New Database and a Database User for Your Joomla Site
Now that the Quickstart package has been uploaded, you need to create a database which will store all the information about your site as well as a user for that database which will allow you to login to your site and manage it. Be sure to note down the information from this step as you'll need to enter it during the database configuration later on.
Back in your cPanel, navigate to MySQL Database Wizard and enter a name for your database. Write it down and click Next Step.
On the next screen, create a database user by entering a name and a password, then click Create User. The following screen is where you'll assign all privileges to the user you've just create. Simply, tick the box next to ALL PRIVILEGES and select Next Step to complete the process.
Step 3. Start Joomla and Quickstart Installation Process
With that out of the way, it's time to begin the installation process for Joomla and the Quickstart package you've downloaded. Begin by entering your domain name in the browser's address bar and visiting your domain.
You'll see the initial pre-installation page that'll check the compatibility of your server with Joomla. In most cases, you'll see green tabs which means you can proceed with the next step.
Step 4. Configure the Database
Click the Next button and then enter the database information from the previous step. You'll need to enter the database name, username, and password as well as the host name. Enter localhost as the host name and the name of the database and user information you noted down.
Then click on the Next button and wait for the Database restoration process to complete. After that you'll be able to configure site information, which means you'll be able to enter your site title, desired username and password, and more. When you're done entering the information, click Next.
Step 5. Start Using Your Joomla Site
On the next screen, you'll be given the option to remove the installation directory so go ahead and do so. You'll also see a success message that your site has been installed successfully.
Click on Visit your site's front-end and you'll see that your website looks exactly like the demo of your chosen template. You can then log in to the control panel of your site by visiting www.yourdomain.com/administrator. Enter the username and password that you specified in Step 3 and you'll be able to access your dashboard, add your content, and more.
Launch Your New Website With Joomla
You've just learned how to install a Joomla template manually. Joomla is a great CMS suitable for complex websites, especially those that focus on e-commerce or social networking functionality. With a plethora of themes available, you're bound to find a template that would be perfect for your website. Start by browsing our Joomla template collection over on Envato Elements or you can find a Joomla theme on GraphicRiver. Then use this tutorial to help you install a new Joomla template so you can finally launch your website.