How To Administer a Joomla Web Site — Part 2: Creating Articles and Categorizing Them
This article pics up where we left off last time and discusses how to create a new article in a Joomla web site. It will be basic, but will also cover adding images.
Now that you have your categories setup, you need to add some content to them. All core Joomla articles in the Joomla system live at Content → Articles. So, click there to start:
Creating a new article: Throughout the Joomla interface, there are numerous buttons for creating a new article. You can go to Content → Articles, and then click the “New” button. Or you can go to Content → Articles → Add New Articles. Or, on the main administrator screen, there is a “New Article” button on the top left of the default screen. So, many ways to get there. For now, click New Article in any way that seems easy…
Article Title. Obviously, this is the title. But, keep in mind while inputting this that, for SEO purposes, the title is very important. Try to be succinct and specific here so that your site communicates with Google via what will be the headline of your article page.
Alias. Similar to the description above, this is the part that will (likely) make up the URL of your article. It’s a bit more complex than that, but in general whatever is in the Alias field will become part of the URL. So, Joomla allows you to control that, if you like, or it will simply generate an alias based on whatever your title is if you do not specify it. In most cases, I recommend simply focusing on creating a good title, and letting Joomla create the alias. I find that Joomla does a great job at this, and it’s not usually necessary to mess with Aliases, unless Joomla does something awkward. For example, if your article title contains a possessive like “Our Company’s Long History”, Joomla won’t like that apostrophe, as they won’t work in page URLs, so it will replace it with a dash. Thus, your alias would be “our-company-s-long-history”. Thus, in a case like that, you can override it by just deleting the dash after “company” — making a better alias of “our-companys-long-history”.
The content. In Joomla, the content area will appear different depending on the type of content editor you prefer to work with. Shown above is an HTML-only one (which I prefer, as I like to work directly with code). Many clients, however, prefer a WYSIWYG-style editor. If this is your preference, then I recommend using the Joomla Content Editor (JCE). So, if you use the HTML one as shown, you’ll need your content to be HTML code. If you use the JCE, you can basically just type as normal. If using the JCE, you will find familiar formatting controls for bolding, italics, paragraph formatting, etc.
Pro Tip: If you are creating articles elsewhere, such as in MS Word or in an email program, and desire to cut and paste your content in, please know that this is probably going to cause you some problems formatting-wise. For anyone wanting to use Word or some other source, my recommendation is to scrub the content prior to pasting it into your JCE or HTML editor. There are some easy ways to do this… For example, start up a text editor and paste your content from MS Word or elsewhere into a blank text document first. This will remove all of the extraneous formatting information. Then copy everything again from your text document, and then paste it into Joomla. You may now need to re-add some things like bolding, italics, etc. But, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headache if you go ahead and do this step religiously. (There are many other ways to accomplish this. But, the point here is: Try not to copy-paste from Word or web pages or email programs directly into Joomla or Wordpress or any CMS.)
The Right-Side Stack…
I’ll only cover the essentials here from the stack of controls on the right side:
Status: Published. This is the default… It means that your article is published. This alone doesn’t guarantee it’ll be findable on your site. But, if you want it to be seen, it must be published. If it’s finished and intended for the site, it should be published. But, you can also keep drafts or old articles in Joomla. Just keep them as unpublished.
Category: As we covered how to create categories — see previous post — this is where you’d select the appropriate one.
Featured: For most articles on most web sites, you can leave this set to NO. “Featured” is really kind of a Joomla-specific designation that really shows its roots as a large-scale publishing system. To “feature” an article is to give it some special attention, provided you then follow through by setting up how you want to treat articles that you feature on the front side of the site. To be honest, most clients don’t use this in the more advanced ways that are possible. Many clients do like to have their home page be a featured article, though. For now, I’d say just keep it as “no” for 99% of basic usage.
Access: For 99% of clients, leave this as “Public” (the default). This control comes into play, along with some other controls, where you want only certain groups or logged-in users to be able to view the article. This functionality needs to be setup in conjunction with other access controls on the site and in the site menu to work properly. So, again, mostly just leave this as the default.
Tags: Tags are relatively new to Joomla, although other CMSs have had them for much longer. They basically provide you with a means to further categorize information beyond the category setting. For example, imagine you’re an artist selling paintings and prints, and ink drawings in three separate categories. So, you have a nice cat painting categorized as “paintings” and a nice cat print categorized as “prints”. By using tags, you can give each one of those the tag “cats” and thus provide the user the ability to view all “cats” items, regardless of the category. So, it’s an expanded functionality capability. However, unless you’re going to commit to using them, they’re not necessary to setup. I do recommend them, though, as I believe they’re good for SEO.
Version Note: Ignore this for now.
By default, the article content is shown as the main tab. But, you also have “Publishing”, “Images and links”, “Options”, and “Permissions”. We will look at a few of these here…
“Publishing” tab. For 90% of clients, you can ignore this tab completely, as you’re going to be typing in your article and then publishing it. Simple. But, sometimes you want some further control. So, on this tab, you’ll find:
- Start Publishing. This allows you to designate a date at which to start publishing. So, maybe you want to leave the office on Friday, but have a blog post appear on Saturday. You could set that up here.
- Finish Publishing. Similarly, you can say when an article should stop. Could be good for temporary announcements on a blog or something.
- Created Date. This will default to the day you created the article, unless you want to change it here.
- Created by. This will default to the user who created the article. But, sometimes you may want or need to change that. So, you can select another user here.
- Created by Alias. This would be to have an author byline who isn’t a Joomla user. So, maybe you have a guest post on your blog. This would put the person’s name as the author (provided you have your site setup to show authors in the first place).
- Meta Description and Meta Keywords. These fields allow you to have Joomla insert article-specific keywords and descriptions into the area of the code. This is pretty good for SEO, although it’s more work than not doing it. For many clients, it’s probably not worth the extra effort, IMHO. But, some really like the options here.
- Skip the rest for now. It’s all very, very unusual refinements.
“Images and Links” tab. This is a highly critical tab for most clients. In Joomla, you can publish as many photos along with your article as you like. But, TWO images are very important, and those are here. Think of this as the way you can associate a couple of photos officially with an article. This is important because, if you were to just insert your images as part of the article HTML, then Joomla stores that huge chunk of HTML in the database, but doesn’t know whether there are any pictures within that HTML. By using this tab, you can get Joomla to make the association… Joomla will now know that (1) you have an article made up of text or HTML, and (2) there are also some specific photos/graphics associated with that. And this allows you do a ton of very handy / useful things, such as maybe putting flashy sidebars that rotate text and pictures from your blog.
Joomla provides for two specific types of images on this tab. They are the Intro Image and the Full Article Image. The best way to think of these is as follows:
The Intro Image is what you’ll see in blog feed-style pages. A blog feed style page is a page that (usually) has numerous articles on it in the format of (1) headline, (2) a small intro photo, (3) a paragraph or two of intro text, and (4) a link that says “Click here to read the full article.” So, a blog feed is basically a teaser-type page, with the most recent item on top… then it might show 5 or 10 more teasers, and then some links at the bottom to further pages of such.
Each title and “read more” link then links to a dedicated web page that shows the entire standalone article. And, that’s where the Full Article Image comes into play. So, Joomla provides you with these two fields… and they can be the same image in both places, and/or you can opt to use only one of these if you like.
For most, I think the most basic usage is to use the same photo for the Intro Image and the Full Article Image. At least until you get used to it, at which point you may opt to fancy things up a bit.
Joomla provides some other controls here such as the Image Float, the Alt text, and the Caption. I recommend for basic usage leaving these as the defaults, as chances are the site CSS will dictate the look and feel of your images anyway. So, there’s not big need to provide a bunch of additional formatting.
Selecting images to use is fairly straightforward. You’d click Select, and would get a popup window that will usually reflect the “images” folder as the root folder. In other words, when you click select, you will then be viewing all of the files / folders located at www.yoursite.com/images. Much as I recommend categorizing articles, I recommend building out an intuitive file management structure within your images folder to house your site’s images. For example, if you’re going to have a blog, you might have a folder called “blog”. Further, you might have folders under “blog” such as “2015”, “2016” etc. The more organized you can be, the better.
Prior to inserting your images, you may want to do a one-time setup of these images folders. You can do this in a few ways… e.g., via your favorite FTP client like FileZilla, or via Joomla’s own Media Manager.
Tangent: To use Joomla’s Media Manger, you’d go to Content → Media. There, you’ll also by default find yourself in the “images” root folder. And, there are controls there to create new folders, as needed. You can also use the Media Manager to upload files to your site. Again, it will all be within the “images” folder. So, if you upload cat.jpg directly to this folder, your graphic would then have the direct path of www.yoursite.com/images/cat.jpg.
Back in the article image tab, you can upload to any existing folder, but you’ll need to use the Media Manager to create any new folders. So, try to keep that in mind — that you’ll want to create your images folder structure first, before doing article work.
Also on the “Images and Links” tab are some fields for links. Ignore these completely. No one uses this, and really I don’t think it should even be part of the Joomla core system at all. Forget you ever saw these.
“Options” tab. This tab basically allows you to override any global Joomla settings for this specific article. So, for example, if you have your site setup to globally not show the publishing date, but you DO want to show it on this article, you can override the global settings here. I recommend using these are rarely as you can, as it can get tough to manage a lot of exceptions. In other words, if you find yourself visiting this tab a lot, it probably means your globals are not properly setup.
“Configure Edit Screen” tab. Ignore this. Advanced use only.
“Permissions” tab. Ignore this. Advanced use only.
That will do it for basic article creation. Keep in mind that this guide is meant as fairly basic, just to provide some fundamental orientation and guidance on using Joomla.