Aside

Installing a news site template for Joomla

Templates are a series of files which control the presentation of content (articles that you create). So you want an attractive looking news site to match that of CNN.com, but at the fraction of the price? Well, this page will help.

When
you install Joomla!, you will see that your site has a default
template which is pretty ugly-looking.  It also contains
dummy articles full of text about Joomla! – eventually you will want to
delete these articles as well, but don’t do it now.

CREATING A TEMPLATE YOURSELF

This
isn’t particularly easy for the non-coders of the world. You need to know
about CSS and PHP. You can’t just use Dreamweaver to create a
dynamically-generated page.

If you are into creating a template yourself then you  need to get hold of a books by Dan Rahmel (widely available on Amazon).

These
books explain how to create a template yourself. But I have a feeling
that even if you spent a month following this  advice, you still
wouldn’t have a site that looked as nice as one of the professionally produced
templates listed beneath.

ASK A WEB DEVELOPER TO CREATE A TEMPLATE

Choosing a good web developer isn’t  easy – see questions to ask a designer

You need to be very precise about how you brief developers / Joomla! designers. A precise brief will save a lot of heartache later on.

What you need you designer to do is: negotiate design concept with you (i.e. what it will look like). They will then go off and create appropriate screenshots, graphics, icons and then install the template on your server and
configure it
. It obviously helps if you have existing art work (e.g. company logos) that you can supply.

You need to ensure that your freelance designer (or web design company) has experience in creating Joomla! templates and they have a solid online portfolio of work with previous clients.

They obviously need to have knowledge of MySQL, CSS and PHP. It is well worth posting a job on freelance sites like PeopleByTheHour.com or Elance. You get a mix of design students (who may do you a template for free if helps them build a portfolio) to Web professionals.  It doesn’t really matter where in the world the developer is based – most things can be explained via email or over the phone.

INSTALLING A FREE JOOMLA! TEMPLATE

There are a lot of people who
are willing to give away their lovely template designs for you to use
for free.

You will find a bewildering array of free options at Joomla! 24 or Best of Joomla!

The
more recent templates will be specially written for Joomla! 1.5 ( the
latest version of the CMS, although 1.6 will appear soon). You can use older templates (not written
for version 1.5), but they may only work in legacy mode – which is very easy to set up.

A few free templates that would be okay for a pretty basic news site:

There is no reason why you shouldn’t download and install a few. You can then play around with the positioning of modules.

In Joomla! go to extensions – install / uninstall and upload it.

Go to template manager to make your newly installed template default.


PAID-FOR JOOMLA! TEMPLATES (AND CLUBS)

Some really nice news templates…

You can usually buy the templates separately, but if you feel you need ongoing support, often via email or message boards, you may want to join a template club. This will usally give you access to other templates by the same company.

Joomla! Club Membership Costs
(these are the cheapest membership packages/correct at time of writing):

YouJoomla!
$45 for 3 months membership

Ice Theme
$49 / 3 months

Gavik
$51 / 4 months

Rocket Theme
$50 / 2 months

Template Plaza
$39 / 4 Months access

A few things about the paid-for / template clubs:

1. These
templates are dead sexy and do include lots of pre-installed modules
and plugins. For those that are relatively new to Joomla!, they will
suggest doing a clean-install. I.e. you install the version of Joomla!
they provide, which also includes all the modules/plugins you need.

2. Some of these services, like YouJoomla!, will install their templates to  your server space for you.

3.
Check what you are getting. With some sites you can download individual
templates for around $25,  but that can be poor value for money in the
long run. You may only get limited tech/forum support and it may not
include all the modules you need.

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