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Joomla! Start to Finish - Jen Kramer's Timeless Tips


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Timeless Tips extracted by Dorothy Firsching from Jen Kramer's book, Joomla! Start to Finish: How to Plan, Execute, and Maintain Your Web Site, Wrox, 2010.

Jen Kramer is president of 4Web, Inc., a company dedicated to building highly customized Joomla! web sites.

These slides, prepared by Dorothy Firsching, were used as the jumping off point for discussion at the April 2012 meeting of the Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group.

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Joomla! Start to Finish - Jen Kramer's Timeless Tips

  1. 1. Joomla! Start to Finish –Timeless Tips Joomla Start to Finish by Jen Kramer Northern Virginia Joomla Users Group April 2012 Discussion by Dorothy Firsching, Ursa Major Consulting, LLC dfirsching@ursamajorconsulting.com4-19-2012 1
  2. 2. The Book: Joomla! Start to Finish: How to Plan, Execute and Maintain Your Web Site by Jen Kramer, Wrox, 2010 Audience:  “If you’re trying to make money building Joomla web sites, this book is for you. If you’re just trying to build better Joomla web sites, for profit or not for profit, this book is for you, too.”  “If you’re trying to build a website for the very first time ever, you might find this book a little advanced.”  “If you’re expecting chapters on module development, they’re not in this book.” Covers Joomla 1.5 in depth; 1.6 was in alpha when it was written. Jen Kramer is Program Director for the M.S. in Internet Technologies program at the Marlboro College Graduate School, as well as a frequent speaker at Joomla! conferences. She is President of 4Web, Inc., a company dedicated to building highly customized Joomla! web sites. This presentation was assembled by Dorothy Firsching and reflects tips she has extracted from Jen’s book. Dorothy’s comments are in BLUE.4-19-2012 2
  3. 3. Agenda Discuss Jen’s Joomla! Site Planning Tips Discuss Jen’s Joomla! Site Maintenance Tips4-19-2012 3
  4. 4. Jen’s Key Site Planning Tips When the Customer says, “How Much Will It Cost?”  Understand Your Client’s Business Strategy  Great Story – Housing Developer – page 3  Illustrates why not to quote cost with too little understanding Understand your Client’s Target Audiences  Demographics / Technographics / Geographics / Goals  Internal and External Measuring Success  You have to know what you were trying to achieve!  What was in that fixed price, anyway?4-19-2012 4
  5. 5. Some client education might beneeded… Some Clients Should Not Have a Web Site  Not Engaged, No Strategy, Results in Neglected Site  A Web Site (Joomla site, particularly) is not a one- time investment How does the client want to handle updates, maintenance?  Training in front-end editing, limit back-end access  Training in both front-end and back-end can be confusing  Must understand and plan for security upgrades  Must understand and plan for support4-19-2012 5
  6. 6. Jen’s Key Tips on Your Website What’s on your website?  Information about your skills -- OK  Links to sites you’ve built -- OK  Best is information about what problems the client wanted solved and how you solved them, before and after shots, increased store traffic, etc. Blog is only good if you’ve got time to post regularly  3rd party verification / testimonials are best – what you’ve accomplished for them4-19-2012 6
  7. 7. Choosing the Right Technologiesand Approach Is Joomla! the Right Answer? “It depends…”  Do you offer HTML, WordPress, Drupal sites also, or send customers elsewhere?  The law of the hammer1 Identify quality extensions vs. custom  Reputation / usage / forums  Is the code encrypted, overwrite core files, need special permissions, not start with the correct line, or not have an index.html in each folder?  Research known vulnerabilities Assemble the team  Here is where the JUG might shine  The law of raspberry jam1 1 Gerry Weinberg, The Secrets of Consulting4-19-2012 7
  8. 8. Jen’s Tip: Pick a Good HostingProvider Experienced in Joomla; responsiveness; forums  Check for the right version of PHP, MySQL, Apache; Good control panel (Cpanel / Plesk)  Talk about backup policies Clients Who Want to Host Their Own Web Sites (or Choose the ISP)  Set the expectation that it is up to them to maintain the server  GoDaddy? Really? Encourage Clients to Host Though You  And require Joomla and extensions to be kept up to date!4-19-2012 8
  9. 9. Jen’s Tips: Lay out the Content Create a Site Map  Jen’s Tip: Sticky Note Exercise  Sticky Walls / Photograph the result; Draw up in Visio Lay out Navigation  Avoid Right Side Menus “Some Clients seem to expect content to fall from the sky..”  Jen’s Tip: A Google Docs list of Assignments  Jen’s Tip: Include assumption that if you don’t get content by a certain date, the end date must move  Dorothy’s Tip: Make a special effort to document all assumptions that affect scope and schedule  Dorothy’s Approach: I will write a “strawman” version for you to review on a test server = jumpstart4-19-2012 9
  10. 10. More Jen Tips – from variouschapters Include a good article page title for SEO reasons even if you don’t display it (p. 103) “Show unauthorized links” can be used to entice clients to join site (p. 110) Date Format in category list can be customized using PHP formats (p. 121) Article parameters (lowest priority), then menu parameters, then individual article settings (e.g., show author name) (p. 123) Get rid of “Main Menu” menu name, sign of Joomla! site? Great explanation of split menu configuration (p. 131) Stay away from image-based navigation and make the site more easily maintained! (p.137)4-19-2012 10
  11. 11. More Tips Get rid of “Welcome to Joomla!” in the backend, and provide contact information for your company / tech support here (p. 180) Use “Session Check” on Contacts – so that whoever submits the form actually has visited the website! (p. 193) Load Module plugin – defaults to table. Choose “Wrapped by Divs” or “Wrapped by Multiple Divs” (p. 222)4-19-2012 11
  12. 12. Editor Lots of tips on use of editor (p. 223ff)  Provide “Paste from Word” option  Turn off fonts  Include “Clean up HTML”  Dorothy’s tip: Use JCE customization4-19-2012 12
  13. 13. Home Page Tips and Tricks (Ch.12) Jen references Steve Krug, “Don’t Make Me Think”. It’s worthwhile reading. “Despite the requests from all sides, your mission is to make the home page clear and concise. What exactly is this site, and why does it exist?” Back to strategy. “Once you have the rest of the site clearly defined… then think how the home page will communicate an abbreviated version of the site’s message.” (p. 229)  Like an Executive Summary  NOT “Welcome to the Front Page”! Consider laying out the Home Page in a static article rather than using the Joomla Blog format. Less bloated code. Great example (p. 243)4-19-2012 13
  14. 14. Templates Custom Template instructions are for Joomla 1.5, not 2.5 Template Overrides  To ensure that changes to Joomla “core files” are not wiped out with each Joomla! update Hidden Menus  How to assign modules to web pages that don’t appear on visible menus  Put it on a menu but don’t publish the menu module4-19-2012 14
  15. 15. Site Maintenance Backing up  JoomlaPack  Akeeba Backup  Don’t download through browser Restoring and Moving Sites  Dorothy’s Tip: Use a test site on the web to test changes as well as backups Upgrading Sites  Keep a Spreadsheet of Extension Versions of your sites!  Dorothy’s Tip: Try Akeeba Admin Tools!4-19-2012 15
  16. 16. User Training Offer Options User Manual  Plus an hour of Q&A In-person Training  2 to 4 hours for up to 4 people  Dorothy’s Tip: Virtual works fine too! Include Support Options: Customer staff changes  Hourly  Retainer4-19-2012 16
  17. 17. Jen’s Favorite Extensions Akeeba Backup MassContent XMap MyBlog JomComment JomSocial JoomlaWorks Front Page Slide Show Simple Image Gallery Ultimate Content Display Allvideos K2 RS Form Pro Grumpy Contacts4-19-2012 17
  18. 18. More Discussion? Jen did a great job on the book Publishing takes too long! Are we ready for an eBook for 2.5?4-19-2012 18