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5 Top Joomla techniques

Uncover an essential selection of blog techniques in Part 2 of Web Designer’s look at the major web publishing platforms.

01. Customise the ‘site offline’ page

Joomla! has a default offline page which can be temporarily turned on while you tinker with your site layout. It can be accessed under Site>Global configuration in the Joomla! admin panel. But the default page is not particularly attractive and you may want to brand it in a different style. To change this go to the root directory and within the Joomla! file structure navigate to /templates/ system/. Copy the file offline.php from the system folder to the /templates/YourTemplate/ directory. You will need to do the same for a file called offline. css, which is located within your /templates/system/css/ folder. Copy offline.css and place it within your /templates/YourTemplate/css/ folder. You can now edit these two files by changing the background colours, layout, logos etc to suit the style of your site. You could also insert Google AdSense code or perhaps a mailto: link for people to contact you while the site is down.

02. Identify and change CSS

FireBug (http://getfirebug.com/),the add-on for Firefox, is a popular tool for web developers and it’s particularly handy for Joomla! users. It can do a lot, but we like it because it can quickly find the exact CSS code that styles any HTML element on a page. We also use it to quickly identify the HTML code for any element on a page and instantly see the effects of changes to HTML or CSS code on the appearance of the page. This is an essential addition to your Firefox browser.

03. Get two columns on front page

The Joomla! front page is different to other pages in so far as to make changes you need to find the Home (Menu>Main menu) and click on the Home link. Under basic parameters you can change details of the front page layout. Leading is the number of full width articles to display, columns is the number of columns on the page, intro is the number of articles with intro text displaying and links is the number of articles that appear as links.

04. Essential resources

If you want to have a play with Joomla! without having to host it yourself, try it for free at JHost. (www.jhost.co.uk). Just about all commercial web hosts offer Joomla! – Heart Internet (www.heartinternet.co.uk) and Go Daddy (www.godaddy.com) are just two providers that offer a ‘one-click’ install of Joomla!. Once you have Joomla! installed, you will need your own template – you can design your own one or grab one of the 3,000 or so free
templates listed at Joomla24 (www.joomla24.com).

05. Remove ‘Welcome to the frontpage’ title

How do you change or remove the ‘welcome to the frontpage’ title? It sounds pretty straightforward right? But confusion has arisen because the setting is hard to find in Joomla!. Go to Menu>Main menu>Home. If you can’t see Home, choose the link with an asterisk next to it. When you are in Home, to the right you will see the Parameters (System) tab. You can now change the title message to whatever you want or you can select ‘no’ next to show
page title and banish it from your homepage completely. Click apply and preview to check it has changed.

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