Aug 18

Joomla! The Good and the Bad

Joomla! - ATAK Interactive, IncIn its simplest description, Joomla! is a content management system used to design websites. With that said, Joomla! is an easy to use, but complex and in-depth program that can be highly beneficial to your business. It has the capability to easily add important features such as product catalogs, data reporting, integrated e-commerce capabilities, reservation systems, and the list goes on. Written in PHP and MySQL, Joomla!’s competence is best utilized through applications or “extensions” as they are known in Joomla! terms. Consulting with a professional company like ATAK Interactive, Inc. will help you to take advantage of the power of Joomla! and enhance your customer’s experience on your website.

Getting Joomla! On your computer
Joomla! is an open source software program that you can download from Joomla.org onto your computer. Be forewarned though that this process is more complicated than your typical program download. You first need to download XAMPP (a package of downloads that primarily include a web server called Apache, a database called MySQL and a scripting language called PHP), install it onto your computer (another multi-step process) and then install Joomla!. A full description of instructions can be found at http://docs.joomla.org/Use_Joomla!_on_your_own_computer.

The Good
Perhaps the best part about Joomla! is the extension capability. Similar to how applications enhance smartphones, extensions make Joomla! websites rich in functionality. For example, say your business is a real estate company. You could use the calendar extension to advertise upcoming open houses, a mortgage calculator extension to assist your potential customers in determining a budget for purchasing real estate, and a flash-based extension that brilliantly shows your current listings in an animated slide show. Best of all, the extensions are fairly easy to download and install, and developers are creating new extensions every day to help you create a better website.

Another great feature of Joomla! extensions are their ability to connect your business with social media. You can add a Facebook “like” button, display RSS feed news, embed a YouTube player within your page, add a WordPress blog, and use social media icon links to promote your existing social media pages within Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.

Joomla! also makes e-commerce easier with extensions that connect customers to payment methods such as PayPal and Google Checkout, among others. After you’ve set up a merchant account with the respective payment company, you can download an extension to add buttons to your site to guide your customers to checkout. Extensions can also add shopping carts, generate invoices, and even create coupons and vouchers that your customers can use.

The Bad.
Joomla! is certainly a powerful, flexible and useful system, but it can be overwhelming to beginners. Although Joomla! was designed for use by everyone, including programmers and beginners, it is argued that without any experience, one could spend hours upon hours trying to learn the system. If you’re a beginner and are going to take on the brave task and tackle Joomla! on your own, you should first go through the wide-ranging tutorials and videos on the Joomla! website to give you a sense of direction. Another issue is that because it is an open source site and the extensions are created by various developers, it can be difficult to get assistance with problems you experience with certain extensions. You can sometimes find help on open forums, but they require you to rake through postings from others or post a question and then hope for helpful answer. Finally, there have also been problems reported with the appearance of Joomla! sites within Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

The bottom line when it comes to Joomla! is that the steep learning curve will ultimately make it more difficult to use for many instead of making things easier. It is recommended that you consult with a professional company such as ATAK Interactive, Inc. to assist you in identifying if Joomla! is the right choice for the objective of your website. If it indeed employs the functionality you are seeking, ATAK Interactive can also help establish the frame work that you can work off of, saving you the time and aggravation of learning it yourself.

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