To create a successful Joomla website, you need several different skills. Building a Joomla site will challenge you in various areas, and you will learn a lot along the way. Still, there are some areas in which you should acquire at least some basic knowledge and proficiency before starting. These are some of the skills you will need:
- Basic Joomla skills
- HTML skills
- CSS skills
- Writing skills
- SEO skills
In this post, I'll go through these skills and elaborate on what it all means.
1. Basic Joomla skills
Before you start building any website or blog with Joomla, I suggest you make yourself familiar with the basics. You should know how articles and categories work. What components, modules and plug-ins are. And you should be familiar with how to build menus with different types of menu items. There are several great resources to learn Joomla. For one, you can subscribe to this blog's newsletter. You will get emails with useful tips for Joomla, SEO and other related topics. You can also use the search function to find older posts.
Having a basic knowledge of HTML is important for anyone working on a website. You will probably want to adjust the code of articles, add custom HMTL modules or modify a template. If you know some HTML, things like this will be very easy for you to do.
W3 Schools is a great resource for learning the basics of HTML.
I strongly believe that among the most important skills for a Joomla user to have are those of HTML and CSS. I have previously written a more detailed post about Joomla CSS for beginners.
With a basic knowledge of CSS, you have a huge advantage when trying to customize your website. Most extensions are fine the way they look when you install them. Nevertheless, if you want the look of your website to be consistent, you often need to do some CSS tweaking. So if you don't know any CSS, you'd better start learning now.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Cascading Style Sheets:
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used to describe the presentation semantics (that is, the look and formatting) of a document written in a markup language. Its most common application is to style web pages written in HTML and XHTML, but the language can be applied to any kind of XML document, including SVG and XUL. CSS is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content (written in HTML or a similar markup language) from document presentation, including elements such as the layout, colors, and fonts.
In my personal opinion, this is the most important point of this definition: Separation of content (HTML) and visual presentation (CSS).
By using CSS, we can use one, centrally located file with all the styles. Keeping the styling separate from our Joomla articles. That way, site-wide style changes are easy to do. Just imagine if you did article specific styling in each and every article on your site. It would be a nightmare to do style changes - in the case of a redesign or template change.
To learn CSS, I always recommend the books by CSS guru Eric Meyer. He has some great insights and a huge knowledge about CSS. He describes the use of CSS in an understandable way, and gives a lot of practical examples in his books. The first CSS book I read was Eric Meyer on CSS, and it taught me a lot. For instance, he goes through the whole process of turning a table-based layout into a CSS layout. Explaining every step along the way. Even though it is many years old, it still teaches the basics of CSS in a clear and understandable manner. His newest book, «Smashing CSS: Professional Techniques for Modern Layout» goes further, exploring HTML5 and CSS3.
Another great resource is A List Apart. This is a site about web development and has a lot of CSS techniques. "A List Apart Magazine explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices."
Last, but not least, you should do yourself a favor and walk through all the exercises on w3schools css tutorials. As one of my readers put it: It absolutely can't get any easier than they make it: http://www.w3schools.com/Css/default.asp
It takes time to build a successful website. It takes hard work and a lot of patience. But it will be rewarding from day one. The important thing is to acknowledge it takes time, and do one step at a time.
Things like SEO will need time to mature. There is no quick fix - those who think there is won't last in this game, I can tell you that. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint run. There, I said it.
5. Writing skills
To create a successful website, you need to write good content. Simple as that. Content is what other people will share and link to, and this is what gives you authority in the search engines. This, in turn, sends more traffic to your site. To improve your copywriting skills, you should read a lot. Make sure to read some of the brilliant blogs about writing that are out there.
Improving your writing skills is fun and incredibly important to make your writing more interesting and effective. I've picked up a lot of new techniques when reading books and blogs about writing. Experiment with writing styles and try to find your own voice. Give your site a voice. Your personal voice. That will make your website so much better and more inspiring to read.
6. SEO skills
Good content is great, but there are more sides to the story about Search Engine Optimization. Very simply put, SEO can be divided into 3 main parts: Technical optimization, content and links. Each of these parts have an infinite number of variables you can work with. SEO has become a quite complex field, but there are still some basic stuff you need to have in place before you can even think about the more advanced techniques.