I’ve been looking to set up a news website from scratch using Joomla!, a free content management system.I don’t exactly vouch for the accuracy of this post, because I’m still feeling my way. I’ll correct any mistakes when I find them.
The Joomla site creation process seems to be:
- Find a reliable web hosting company – either choose one with Joomla! pre-installed. Or install Joomla on your regular hosting space.
- Create a template for your site. It helps to know something about XHTML and PHP to do this. So you either find someone that knows about it or Google ‘Joomla Templates’ and adapt one that someone has kindly donated to the world. You then upload the template to Joomla.
- Work out how you will order your content on your site. Start filling in categories etc.
- Add content to the site.
First stage, find a good web host:
You can stick Joomla! just about anywhere, but probably not the bog standard hosting you get from your ISP. Being a total cheapskate, I thought I would install it on my free space on Virgin Media, but alas, it doesn’t work. The Joomla official site lists the minimum requirements – PHP 4.2.x or above, MySQL 3.23.x or above, Apache 1.13.19 or above. You must also ensure that you have MySQL, XML, and Zlib functionality enabled within your PHP installation. So make sure your host offers all of this.
Finding a reliable web host can be a bit of a nightmare. I really like the flexibility of paying monthly, but a lot of hosts attempt to lock you in to year contracts. They also make it expensive to move your domain name.
So I’ve attempted to select hosts that offer money back guarantees, free trials or the ability to pay monthly. You obviously need to check out the specs for each package – space, traffic and uptime. If you live in the UK, you may want to consider a US host to get the price down and benefit from a good $:£ exchange rate. There is a useful list of some US hosts at the Joomla Hosting Directory.
Here are a few that caught my eye (I’ve not tested these):
- Jhost: Free Joomla hosting! Yipee! For those looking to have a play, this is the place to go. There are a load of templates pre-installed, but you can’t add your own ones. All sites contain small adverts.
- Go Daddy This is one of the ‘big beasts’ in hosting in the US. It’s got a lot going for it. It’s really cheap and there are no long contracts. It’s $3.99 per month – that’s about £20 a year (with the fantastic $:£ exchange rate) and discount coupons are widely available. Joomla! works on all packages, just ensure you select the Linux server.
- SiteGround: It claims to host more than 15,000 Joomla sites. A yearly billed package will set you back $6.95 a month or around £40 a year. Unfortunately if like me you want to pay monthly, it rises to $9.95 a month or about £60 and you also pay a set up charge. But the spec is good – you get 500GB of space / 500GB traffic.
- Lunarpages This service also has got a great spec and good reviews for customer support. It’s got the Fantastico Script Library, which is a collection of commonly used scripts and allows auto-installation of Joomla. You really need to commit to yearly billing at $7.95 a month (about £47). I always liked to be billed monthly, but Lunarpages will only offer billing every three months at the NOT very competitive price of $9.95 or about £60 a month.
- NativeSpace: This lot are based on West Yorkshire, although it’s always slightly worrying when you have to spend ten minutes hunting for their address. It’s £43.80 a year (or £3.65) a month. They’re all set up for Joomla and offer the fantastic Fantastico.
I’m sure you can probably host your Joomla site on 1&1, another ‘big beast’ host across Europe. But they don’t mention it at all on their website.