Sunday, 19 April 2015

Challenge of Changing my Website to Joomla! by Chris Longmuir


You may not have seen me around much recently. That’s because I’ve been burning the midnight oil, designing and building a new website which has to go online before the 21st of this month. Why the rush?

My son changed his old Dreamweaver website to Joomla round about three months ago, and I’d heard him describing it, otherwise I wouldn’t have known Joomla existed. He made this change because Joomla websites are responsive, eg they adjust to fit any size of screen, even mobile phone screens, whereas his old Dreamweaver site was a static one which did not adjust. I made a mental note to look into this because my site was a Dreamweaver one as well. When I have a spare moment, I thought, I might consider this. So, once again, why the rush into this unknown territory of Joomla?

The reason, or maybe I should say bombshell, arrived at the beginning of April when I spotted in one of my forums that Google intended to change their algorithms on the 21st April. The new algorithms would exclude static websites from their search engines. Only the responsive ones would be picked up. Now, I didn’t know if that meant my website would be excluded completely from searches, or whether it would be so far down the list of results it would never be found. I still don’t know, but what I do know, is that my website is currently on page one of Google searches on my name. So, I was likely to lapse into obscurity, and that doesn’t sell many books!

A mad scramble ensued. I bought books on how to install and work with Joomla, and they’re not cheap. The books I bought were:
I also looked at websites, and there is an excellent set of video tutorials at Siteground. Well worth watching

Suitably armed I delved into the depths of CMS website installation, and it’s certainly nothing like working with Dreamweaver. Everything seemed back to front. So it was getting my head into the place where I could understand the procedure. It’s all done online, rather than like Dreamweaver where you add content and do changes on your computer, then upload them to your website. With Joomla there is a backend and a frontend to the site. The front end is what is seen on the web, and the back end is where the content and changes are done, and the backend is online as well as the frontend. This has the added advantage of being able to make changes to a website anywhere there is a computer, rather than being tied to the only computer the Dreamweaver site is on.

I found Stephen Burge’s CASh workflow system a great help when trying to remember the order in which things had to be done. CASh stands for:
  • Categorize first – you must have a category to put your content into
  • Add next – you then need to create your content, to which you subscribe a category
  • Show last – after you’ve created your content and given it a category, you need to create a menu so that the content will show up on your website. If there is no menu the content will remain hidden from the public.

Taking my courage into my hands, and after consulting with my web host, Freeola, I installed Joomla into a subfolder of my website on Freeola. This meant I would have time to build the site before it could be viewed on the internet. To access it myself, I only had to add the name of the subfolder after the URL to my site. Job done, I accessed my Joomla website, and after a bit of head scratching I started to create articles, following the CASh procedure. There were one or two hiccups but I soon got into the swing of it, and the textual content soon started to fill the site up. However, text alone makes a very dull site, so images were inserted, and I set up my slideshow heading. That was an adventure, but I got it up, then had a variety of mishaps when I tried to insert the button links, but I eventually got there. In the process I mucked up my horizontal menu bar. It had taken me ages to figure out how to get it horizontal rather than vertical, and all of a sudden the menu buttons vanished and my menu links straggled right down the page. It didn’t do much for the appearance of my slideshow! I won’t go into details other than say it was a painful process getting it to work again.
 
One of the images from my slideshow
Adding extensions, such as a side scroller, social media icons for Twitter etc, a better text editor to give me more formatting options, and a backup extension, all provided extra demands on my ability to understand what I was doing. In the process I lost my menu bar twice, lost a complete page on the frontend, although it was still there on the backend. And it was these glitches that ate up the time while I tried to figure out how to sort them.
My logo

There were lots of other ups and downs, and I’m suffering from sleep deprivation, but at the time of writing this I’m almost there. The last thing to do is remove my old Dreamweaver website files, my website will go down when I do that. I then have to move all my Joomla files from the subfolder where it currently resides, into the root folder of my website. I’m already quaking in my shoes at the prospect! And, of course, I’ll be doing that immediately before, or during the publication of this post. So, if you click on the URL to my website and see the old site, you’ll know I’m not quite there yet. If you see nothing, or a page 404 error, either I’m in the process or it hasn’t worked. And if it doesn’t work you may need to rescue me from the nearest tall building before I jump.

Go on, click the link and see what’s at the end of it!

Chris Longmuir


Amazon

Apple iBooks




11 comments:

Susan Price said...

A battle well fought, Chris! The new website looks great too.

JO said...

How brave you are!! As one who is in the camp of the faint-hearted (teaching myself HTML was enough of a challenge) I am truly impressed.

Bill Kirton said...

I haven't even got as far as Jo's HTML learning so I'm in awe of your efforts Chris. It was certainly worth it, though. The site looks terrific.

Chris Longmuir said...

Well, there was a lot of muffled curses (and I don't swear!), hair-tearing, blood, sweat and tears along the way. But considering that when my son built his Joomla site (he's webmaster for Montrose Football Club) he took a good 6 weeks to do it, and I've put mine up in less than 2 weeks, I feel I need a pat on the back, as well as a good long rest!
Maybe I should spend the next 2 weeks in my bed?

Susan Price said...

Two weeks! Consider your back duly patted, Chris.

Mari Biella said...

Well done, Chris! It looks really good.

Reb MacRath said...

Looks great, Chris. Am tempted to try it, but the money it take to pay someone to explain this to me mght be better spent paying someone to design a site for me. One wqay or another, I'll have a website this year.

Chris Longmuir said...

Good on you, Reb. Make sure it's a responsive one that adjusts to all sizes of screen otherwise Google won't include you in their Search algorithms.

Lynne Garner said...

Easy to navigate and clean website. Fab job!

AliB said...

You're a brave soul, and it looks great! Obviously it was the right move. Now that I use a smart phone and tablet it's really annoying when a site doesn't render as it should. Bravo! Now I just have to worry if Wordpress sites are all okay. I seem to remember mine is adapted for mobiles, but must check :)

Lee said...

I know this is a somewhat older post, and my comment is likely to get lost, but for what it's worth, here's the link to the Google online tool to evaluate your website for mobile device suitability (mine fails!):

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/