Joomla! jumpstart: 8 tips and best practices from Joomla! developers

Expert advice for using the popular open source Web content management system

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Tap into the Joomla! community - "JED, the Joomla! Extensions Directory, lets you list your extension for free, as long as you observe and respect the rules of the Joomla! project," says Mitch Pirtle. "This opens up your market, versus just putting it on your web site.

Similarly, urges Pirtle, if you're a developer, list yourself in the Jooomla! Resources Directory, which includes listings for consultants, freelancers, extension providers, educators, support services and more.

Be involved - "There's a lot of training out there for Joomla!," says Pirtle. Plus, of course, numerous books, articles, and web sites. Also, "Network," urges Pirtle. "Look for a user group in your area, whether to listen to what's happening, or have questions. A mailing list for people in our area is a great way to keep current."

"Involvement in the Joomla! community is good for business too," says Rick Blalock, Part-Owner, Expression in Design, LLC. (XiD), primarily a Joomla consultancy company with 90% of projects based on the Joomla platform. "I get new lead calls and emails every week because of a blog post I wrote on Joomla, or an extension we built, etc. Joomla's eco-system, I think, demands that you let everyone know you do Joomla. It's not just a CMS, it's a market in itself - from mom-and-pops to the enterprises."

Stretch your budget - "Getting a Joomla! site to look the way you want it is one of its strengths," says Mitch Pirtle. "You can do skin and theme it, there are hundreds of template companies doing nothing but that, for $10 to $20, or for yearly subscriptions. A lot of these are very powerful, letting you save money on a designer."

For a new site, "Decide whether you will use a commercial template, do your own design, or customize a commercial template," says Tamar Schanfeld, Joomla! Project Manager, ShofarSites, which creates websites for synagogues, and TNR Global, which does corporate websites, and Joomla! training and support. "There's a big difference in the pricing. Custom design by a designer can be thousands of dollars and up, while commercial templates usually start at $40 and up, and you can customize them. I usually recommend using an existing template, if that's an option."

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