Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Developing and managing a website is an extremely daunting task. Well, actually it depends on the kind of website. For static websites, which means that web pages having contents never change at all, it can be easy. But static websites are already very out dated. Today’s websites are very dynamic with pages that gets updated every day or shorter.

There are many content management systems (CMS) available today to help ease the burden of updating articles and other contents. Some CMS can be acquired with a fee; others are totally free.

One of the most popular free content management systems, the one I have been using, is Joomla. Joomla is very easy to install and in less that an hour, the website can be up and running. And it does look very professional.

Now, the most interesting part about Joomla is its extensions. Doing ecommerce used to require intensive programming. Think about people going to a site and purchasing an item. Think about hundreds of them simultaneously doing transactions with their credit cards and private information.

I used to program backend ecommerce scripts using Microsoft’s Active Server Page (ASP) and it was too much work and headache. With Joomla’s extensions, all a person has to do is download the component or module to be integrated to the CMS, install and configure.

In fact, Joomla’s extensions do not just tackle ecommerce. A wide array of extensions are available like advertising banners, calendars, forums, guest books, help desks, social book marking, podcasting, streaming media and even weather.

Just the other day, I installed a weather component in my website. The weather component can be specified to the weather of a desired town or any place and linked to msn.com.

My friend also just recently added Amazon Partner component for his personal site. This extension features patching of content items that are linked to relevant Amazon products and he can earn money with the Amazon Associates Program. This is much like Google’s Adwords, only very specific and narrowed.

As I love geology and geography, I am planning to build a related website with Google Maps extension. This extension is a plugin that enables one to use it almost the same way one uses Google maps on its website. The thing is one will not leave the site to go Google Maps.

These extensions are actually just a set of files, usually composed of php and css files that can be easily plugged into an existing content management system. So, even people with no programming skills can run a very complicated website. But it is important to have at least basic knowledge of html and css and these skills are very easy to learn with thousands of online tutorials.

There are hundreds of free extensions at the Joomla website at www.extensions.joomla.org. Even in other websites, free extensions can be found and downloaded.

If you are a programmer or developer, you can share your extensions creation. This is the beauty of open source and free software.

No comments: