Joomla has a lot of great features in a standard installation, and it doesn't require you to search the web for extra plug-ins and extensions like some content management systems do. In this article about building websites using Joomla, we will look at components and extensions. Most of what we need is already installed; you just need to configure it and enable it. We will finish off with a look at the templates and plug-ins available for those that want to extend Joomla even further.

Create components like weblinks and banners

Add Components
Log in to Joomla (yoursite.com/administrator), and Components and Extensions are at the end of the menu, because they're probably the last place to visit when building a site. The menus are almost in the order you need them.

Go to the Components menu, and down at the bottom is Weblinks. This is exactly what the name implies: it's a collection of links, such as to your favorite websites, information or help related to your site and so on. Web links can be assigned to categories, so if you were building a sports-related site, for example, you could have links in Football, Rugby and Cricket categories. Select Components > Weblinks > Categories. Click the New button, enter a category title, and click Save and Close. Select Components> Weblinks > Links, and enter the title and URL for a website. Select the category to store it in on the right, and then click Save and Close if you're done or Save and New to add another web link.

Add new module to display components

Add Extensions
As is often the case with Joomla, nothing immediately appears on the website, and further configuration is required to show the web links. Go to Extensions > Module Manager to view a list of the modules installed on your site. Modules display specific types of content; there's Main Menu, Latest Articles, Breadcrumbs, Popular Tags and so on. We need one to display web links.

Click the New button to call up a list of modules. Click Weblinks and then enter a title, such as Web Links, and select the category to display. On the right is Position, a drop-down menu that lists the positions it can be displayed on the page. Select one that is in the template you're using. The default template is Protostar, so use that unless you've changed it.

Click Save and Close, and then visit your site to see the Weblinks module on the page. When adding a module and specifying the position, it's not always clear where exactly it will be on the page, so if the Weblinks module isn't in the right place, return and select a different position.

Add a Banner

We'll add another component and a module to display it, this time adding a banner. A banner is typically used to show adverts, although it could show anything you want, such as an image, text, custom HTML and so on. With WordPress, you would need to add a plug-in to do this sort of thing, but it's built right into Joomla. It just needs configuring.
Extensions manager help to install great plug-ins

Go to Components> Banners and there are Banners, Categories, Clients and Tracks. A big website with lots of advertisers could use these features to create a database of clients and organize adverts into categories, track when they're shown and how often. We don't need all this right now; we just want to create a banner and display it on a page.

Go to Components> Banners> Banners and click the New button. It must have a name, but it can be anything so make it descriptive. There's a Type option, which can be set to Image or Custom. There's an option to select or upload an image if you choose Image, which could be made by yourself or an advertiser. It could even be a site or company logo you want to include on all or some of the pages on your site. It doesn't have to be an advert. It's simply a way of inserting images, text or code into pages.

Set the banner type to Custom, and a Custom Code box is revealed. Many advertisers provide code that you can copy and paste into your site to display adverts, and this is where you paste it in Joomla. If you don't currently have any advertisers, you can sign up for free with Google AdSense (google.com/adsense) and get as many adverts as you need. An AdSense account lets you select the size and color scheme for an advert so it fits your site's pages, and then it provides a few lines of code to copy and paste into your site. Adverts are created on the fly.

Although we have a banner advert, it can't yet be seen on the site, which is typical of Joomla's way of working. You create something and then specify where and how it's shown. Go to Extensions> Module Manager and click the New button. Click Banners and the banner module opens for editing. The title can be any name you like, and the only important setting is the position. Click the Position button, find the template you're using (Protostar is the default) and select a position. The descriptions aren't always helpful, so try different positions and view the site to see where the advert ends up.

If you have multiple banners, the Banner module has options to select the number to display, and it can randomize them too.

After installing template assign in to all menus


Templates and Plug-ins

To finish off, let's take a quick look at templates and plug-ins. Google 'joomla templates' and lots of sites are returned in the results. Most cost $40 to $50, but there are a few free ones. When you find one you like, download the zip file to disk, but don't unzip it unless it specifically says so. Click Extensions > Extension Manager in Joomla, select the Upload Package File tab and upload the zip. Afterwards, go to Extensions> Template Manager and click the star in the default column to make the template the default.

As always, you'll see no change to your site. What you must do is go to Extensions > Template Manager and click the template name in the Style column. Select the Menus Assignment tab and choose which menus you want to use the template with. As all Joomla content is displayed using one menu or another, this applies the template to the content. An interesting thing about this is that you can apply different templates to different menus. So a Featured Articles menu could use a different template to a Blog menu. Check the other template tabs for settings like the site logo, a home page slideshow, social media icons and more.

Select Extensions> Extensions Manager, and there's an option to install from the web, which provides access to an online catalogue of plug-ins. JCE is a great one to add and after installing it, go to System> Global Configuration and change the default editor to JCE. It replaces the old article editor with a much more powerful one that is more like Word. There are plug-ins in the Photos and Images section that turn a folder of images into a photo gallery with minimal effort on your part. Ozio Gallery creates galleries from Google+ albums, which is clever. Just make sure the plug-in or template is compatible with the version of Joomla you're using.