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How to start learning to build Joomla! web sites.

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An artist asked, on a forum, for advice about template creation and plugins that would be helpful for an artists portfolio site, built using the Joomla! CMS. He said that he doesn’t know HTML or coding, but would like to build it, for the most part, himself.

This is my brief reply to him:

You don’t need to know HTML thoroughly, to use Joomla. The only place, where some knowledge would be needed, is for the construction of articles or modules that contain text and images. Even there, there are tools to help you.

 

Joomla Content EditorI recommend the ‘Joomla Content Editor’ (JCE), which can replace the primitive editor, that comes with Joomla (MCE).

N.B. In case you don’t know, the editor is the software that allows you to write pages in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) window, whilst it constructs the HTML, behind the scenes, for you.

With a bit of study, you can make JCE, to a great extent, write all the HTML for you.

I would also recommend buying a license to use the advanced version, which has great tools, such as ‘Image Manager Extended’. This could prove very useful to you, as an artist. It allows image editor right on the server.

It also comes with an extra plug-in to easily add light-boxes (those pop ups which darken the background to highlight a new area on a page containing special content, such as has been utilised extensively, in the Joomla back-end). This is very useful for image galleries among other things.

Artisteer Template Editor

 

I would also like to endorse another poster’s Artisteer recommendation. It is an excellent tool. Although it isn’t very expensive, it would be overkill to buy it for one site, so I agree that it may be taht you would be better off using a free or cheap template, from a template club or commercial source.

Savoir Faire Barging

 

This is the last site I built, which is not an artists site, but nonetheless is highly image orientated, as per the owner’s wishes. http://www.savoirfairebarging.com .

I used a gallery slide-show, built with DJImageSlider and made extensive use of light-box pop-ups, although these are more text orientated. It should give you some ideas of ways in which you could highlight your work and portfolio.

 

Ultimately, you need to begin the learning process and probably the best place to start that is Lynda.com, so that is also recommended.

Finally, if you want to make a start on learning some of the technologies that are behind Joomla, such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, mySQL etc., so you can get full control of the system, I recommend http://www.w3schools.com. This is the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium – the standards body for web development)’s own free tutorial site, to encourage correct usage of all the web technologies.

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