Joomla is an easy to use software program for web site design and content management. It is free for the download because it is Open Source software. This means programmers and developers have written software not for profit, but to benefit the user community. The Firefox Internet browser, an alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Open Office, an alternative to Microsoft Office, are other examples of Open Source Software.
The difference between Joomla and other web design software systems, is that there are thousands of fully functional, complete web site templates available on the Internet, so that all you have to do is choose a layout that you like and add content to it.
The description of Joomla as a "Content Management System" is one that software developers use, but that does not tell the whole story. Joomla is really all about building an instant web site at no charge to the user. You may have seen different kinds of web site builders on the Internet. Sometimes they are offered for free from hosting companies. They basically give you a banner graphic at the top and bottom of the page, and you are left to design the entire layout and the rest of the site yourself.
I have found that most web design software works well, if you have a flair for design, (which I do not), but to me it all just seems like specialized desktop publishing for the Internet. Joomla, is very different, it is a database. Unlike desktop publishing or web design software, it is designed to share the development of web designers that have already developed working web sites. You can, add content and change things around as you desire, but the layout has already been set-up. All of the links work, and most of the template sites have many useful options, contact forms, a blog page, news feeds, and RSS. Whenever you want to change the content and add pictures, or text, it is very easy to do. You merely turn on and off items, and make small adjustments step by step as you are ready to add content, to make your site come alive.
I have some limited experience in web design, and I know enough to realize that I do not have the eye for graphic design. In fact, if I had to make a living on my artistic skills, I would probably be one of the world's most hungry artists. I know a bit of HTML, but not nearly enough to design a web site from scratch. Joomla is easy to use, and add my own content, without worrying about the design elements of the site.
I used several web design packages years ago, and I recently repurchased one leading web design software package to help a friend get a web site set up. I mistakenly thought that after so many years, the software would have fully developed templates for a variety of different types of web sites. But I was wrong! There still were no templates available that met my satisfaction. The templates that were available were generic, and still required you to do the design yourself.
If you have ever hired a web designer, (not to take anything at all away from their skills, and expertise), it can be rather expensive. Additional features and functionality obviously cost more, and there are maintenance issues to update content on a regular basis. Any SEO strategy is helped by frequent updates of quality content. This is something that is very good for you to have control over, since paying a web designer on a monthly retainer to make changes may be a costly proposition. The more often you add content the better the search engines like it, so it is best to gain control yourself over your web site to be able to update content on your own.
If you are lucky enough to find web site templates on the Internet, it does not mean that they will be organized the way you like. If you want a full blown web site you usually have to pay for it. You may also have trouble adding things such as your own text and graphics, if the site did not have these elements already.
Joomla, on the other hand, encourages you to customize the content your own way. It was designed for this purpose. There are literally thousands of Joomla templates available on the Internet, free to download, and all can be customized to add your own content. The appearance of the site is done for you already, but with thousands of pre-designed sites to choose from, you are sure to find one that you like.
One of the very interesting things about Joomla, is that if you want to change the look and feel of your site, it can be done very simply with a few clicks of the mouse. This is something that could cause quite a headache for most web designers, but it is a very simply matter with Joomla. There may be a few small adjustments to be made, but it is quite a surprise to see how easily it can be done. This is a very unique functionality that I have never seen in web design software. Joomla accomplishes it easily because of it's database design. In fact, you can change the site quite quickly, simply by turning components on and off. In addition to free software and templates, there are a number of plug-ins to add more specific functionality. Some are free, and some are not.
I have been looking for something like Joomla for years. I had tried to find something similar with commercial software, but I could not. In fact, my web hosting company, (see below link), had Joomla pre-installed on the site, so I did not even have to FTP Joomla software to my web site.
Joomla is also very search engine friendly. Google will usually visit a Joomla site on a regular basis, due to the frequent content changes that result from the news feeds. They are usually updated on a daily basis, even if the web site is not updated on a regular basis. These news feeds are available on many of the Joomla templates.
Another big advantage with Joomla is that it is very easy to use. It is not necessarily recommended computer users who are brand new to the Internet. Although it is not for the rank beginner, but if you are reasonably comfortable with computers, and the Internet, Joomla could be for you. It does not require any programming or special expertise, so it is still a program for novices. The most challenging part of Joomla is the installation, which is usually quite simple, if you are familiar with FTP. It should also be mentioned that you have to be careful to verify that any optional modules you want to install have been verified for the specific version of Joomla that you have. For example, you would not want to install something that was designed for a more recent version than the one you have installed.
Below, I have listed a source for free Joomla and Internet marketing training.
Here are some Joomla resources.
Joomla Open Source Web Site
More than 1300 Free Joomla templates
(Just type "free Joomla templates" into Google for more sites.)
Free Joomla and Internet Marketing training. Veretekk Internet Marketing and Joomla training After sign-up, check the calendar under Veretraining for Maurice Young's Monday evening training.
Lunar pages free Joomla