Working with Joomla on a regular basis, you will inevitably develop some habits. And, most likely, some of these habits are good, others are bad.
But there are some habits common for successful Joomla users.
Read on for seven good habits for working successfully with Joomla. This list of habits will improve your experience with Joomla, and save you from hours of cleaning up after a mishap.
In my opinion, a seasoned 'Joomler' will have developed most of these habits:
1. Setting up a reliable backup solution
Backup is crucial for any site. Even if your hosting provider has backup included in your hosting plan, successful Joomla admins always have at least one other solution. Set up a solution to backup up your site to an off-site location. I use Akeeba Backup for this purpose. Read more about how to set up a reliable backup for Joomla.
2. Always upgrading to the latest version of Joomla
At this point, Joomla 1.5 is in its 22nd iteration. This means there have been a lot of upgrades (patches) to the package since its release. Most of these patches have contained security fixes. Thus, it's very important to always upgrade to the latest version of Joomla. If not, your site will be a potential target for hackers using the now known security holes.
When upgrading, always take a look at the change log. This will reveal if there are changes that require additional action on your part. For instance, some security patches have included changes to the Joomla templates. If you have created Joomla template overrides, chances are they need to be upgraded as well.
3. Always upgrading to the latest versions of installed extensions
Just like in the case of the Joomla core package, you need to make sure your extensions are updated. You can take a look at the Vulnerable Extensions List to see if any of the extensions you use have known issues. See point 5 below to learn how to choose extensions.
4. Testing on a separate site
Testing a new extension or template on a live site is asking for trouble. Set up a separate test site so you can install any new extensions or solutions you want to try. Using Akeeba Backup to make a copy of your site, this is straight-forward process. It will spare you a lot of headaches as you can avoid unpleasent surprises that can arise from incompatible or faulty extensions.
Personally, I set up something like a tmp.domain.com version of the site to test new extensions and designs.
5. Considering extensions carefully before installing
There are several ways to reviiew an extension before you decide to use it. You can read reviews, look at update frequency, take a look at the extension forums (if there is any) or the support pages for the extension. All this will give you an impression of the extension and will improve your decision making. I've written about this in my post on how to pick the perfect extension. Also, Victor Drover did a very nice presentation on choosing and evaluating extensions for Joomla (video) at J and Beyond 2010. The video is well worth seeing.
6. Removing unused templates and extensions
Housekeeping is important in your Joomla site, as well as in your life (sore point?). It's very tempting to install and test loads of extensions, just leaving them unpublished after you're done testing. Still, even if a module or plugin is unpublished, the files are still there on the site. So, they can be a potential security risk. Another point is the mess they make in your site. Get rid of those old (and forgotten?) extensions and templates today and start 2011 with a fresh, more secure website.
7. Changing the default Joomla settings
There are some parameters in Joomla that are best changed from their default setting. Changing these settings is the first thing I do after setting up a new Joomla site. Most of them can be found in the global configurations screen:
- The session lifetime (default 15 mins) should be extended. That way, you won't need to login after 15 minutes of idle time. I normally use 120 minutes, which gives me a bit more slack.
- Increase the list length (default is 20). I use 100.
- Upgrade the WYSIWYG editor of Joomla to JCE and change the setting in the Global Configuration.
- Remove the global meta description. Not doing this will give a large number of duplicate meta description tags in your site's search engine results.
- Turn on Search Engine Friendly URLs or use a component like sh404SEF to create even better ones and have more control of the output.
- Disable 'User registration'. If you're not planning to have users register on your site, you should disable this function.
- Set the time zone correctly. Otherwise, the publishing date of your articles will be incorrect.
These are habits I believe you should incorporate into your daily routine as soon as possible. They will make you sleep better at night :)
I'm sure there are many more things seasoned Joomla users do on a regular basis.
What good Joomla habit did I miss? Share in the comments below.