My Recent Redesign pt. 2

Yesterday I began writing about the recent redesign of our church website, what platforms I considered and how I chose Joomla as our CMS.  Today I thought I’d write about the actual process of the redesign and move to Joomla.*  I will share the challenges and the things that made the move easier. Challenges

I should say that most of the challenges didn’t remain challenges for long, because the support for Joomla is truly amazing.  On 2 occasions I twittered about my frustration before I went to bed and when I woke up, there were @ reply answers.

Installing Joomla – I didn’t really know what I was doing and had never used Joomla at all.  So I started with the “Getting Started” articles on and I read the absolute beginner’s guide.  It was helpful.  I was originally planning to move our host, so I was reading up on other shared hosting when I happened across this article.  This made installing Joomla so simple it was unbelievable so I stuck with Go Daddy.  It would have been easy to do manually, but a bit more time consuming.  My only real fear was setting up the MySQL database.  The moral of the story is, Go Daddy set up Joomla for me.  All I had to do was tell it what directory.

Choosing a template – I said yesterday that there is a staggering number of free templates available for Joomla.  And there are several that cost just a few dollars.  I chose the template called Jamba from Joomlashack because I liked the modules and because it seemed very flexible.

Learning my way around the template – This was really the most difficult part of the entire process for me, things were just not quite as intuitive as I expected.  Mostly it was an exercise in trial and error.  I would change one parameter and reload the page to see what it did.

In particular I had great difficulty figuring out how to edit the footer.  Reply #5 on this post was helpful to solve that problem.

The only outstanding problem I have is in the twitter feed module.  It makes improper line breaks within web addresses and often flows over the boundaries of its enclosure.  I’d be glad to accept any help I can get for that one

Making iFrames and javascript work – This was by far the most frustrating issue I dealt with during the redesign.  Our messages page has a javascript player built in to each entry.  Joomla’s default was not to allow any code.  So the code of the script and the player’s parameters were just showing up as text on the page.  I read great things about a plugin called jumi.  All I can say is that it didn’t work for me.  It would hide the code from the script, but it didn’t actually process the code.  One night I twittered about this and went to bed.  When I got up I had a reply from @saadiallan recommending a plugin called Sourcerer.  It worked perfectly allowing me to embed the javascript player as well as the google map and calendar.

Installing plugins – I did not realize just how powerful joomla really is.  There are plugins to allow almost anything I desire and it is amazingly customizable.  If you use the dashboard, then installing plugins could not be simpler

Moving to the root directory – This was by far the most frightening thing to me in the site build.  Once I got to the point that I was ready for the public to see the new site I needed to move it all from the test directory to the root.  I copied everything to my hard drive then I moved the entire database to the root directory.  Then I edited the configuration.php file.  (there are many instructions in many forums about how to do this, but basically I edited every line that had http://domain/olddirectory to just say http://domain/)  It was also necessary to clear the cache, but with only one small panic I got it working.

Helpers – This is where I received the help that made everything do-able and pretty smooth

  • The forums at are teh awesome
  • Ryan Thomas who designed our logo and generally gave design guidance
  • Paula Durand our church secretary who is keeping the Google calendar up to date and keeping content current
  • The readers of this blog who gave me editorial advice.  Especially Caroline who gave me 4 pages of copy edits which I am still not finished with
  • who did a review of the site.  I haven’t implemented all his suggestions yet, but the review was very helpful and it was free.

* I know that much of this post is written in gibberish for most of my readers.  I'll try to get back to writing in English tomorrow.