Content Items, Articles, Blog Entries
What most of us might refer to as a web page, the Joomla web Content Management System (CMS) calls:
- A content item, or ...
- An article, or ...
- A blog entry.
Content item, article, blog entry are essentially all labels for the same thing: web site content. Perhaps surprisingly, the differences between those three labels are more cosmetic than we might at first expect.
When creating a new content item - or article - in the Joomla CMS, Joomla applies many default settings automatically for you, though you can of course change any of those settings if you wish at any time.
Default applications that are applied by Joomla mean that to create great content, we only need focus on the items in the steps below.
The JCE Joomla Content Editor
A range of web page editors are available for Joomla, including the default editor that comes built in to Joomla. Some users prefer more power and flexibility, so you can find many plugin web page editors listed at Joomla.org, or search online at Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others.
In this article, we are using the remarkable JCE Joomla content editor under Joomla v2.5.xx At the time of writing, JCE is available as a free version and as a more powerful, extend-able paid version. For websites we create for clients, we install the paid version as standard.
How Soon Can I Create Website Content?
Within this guide, we delve into the content creation process in Joomla, in great detail, to help show you how to create superb articles for both people and search engines.
Yet after performing these steps a couple of times, with greater familiarity comes speed. So over time, you'll know what to do and just take many of the points below as obvious - but not when first starting out. If you're new to Joomla, I suggest, take your time; focus on understanding and accuracy first.
You can soon be creating your website content in 30 minutes, or in under an hour. Furthermore, if you have your content prepared in a plain text file (no formatting applied), you can make a new content item live in about 10 minutes or less.
However, while time is important to all of use, I suggest, consider:
- The quality of your content should be your first concern.
- Try to imagine what people might find valuable, useful, helpful.
- Creating page after page of low quality web content will almost certainly not help your cause.
- If either search engines or people - or worse, both - aren't going to place some value on what you are creating, think again.
- Certainly don't be afraid to modify or improve your content item as you enter your information into your web page: let your new perspective make a contribution if you think that initiative would improve the value that your content provides.
- Remember: website visitors and non-human visitors are equally important. Friendly bots can make your website world thrive and expand.
Creating A Draft Content Item In Multiple Stages
While some people prefer to prepare or write their website content outside of the Joomla website editor, using tools like Microsoft Word (Windows, Mac, iPad, etc), Pages (Mac), or any other writing tool, the problem with that approach is that you can focus too much on the formatting of your document - which is both irrelevant and a problem for when you come to insert your document into any web content management system web page.
Why: because if you want to "talk properly" to search engines, the formatting commands from your beloved word processing document should be stripped out when creating your content item online.
Instead, if your website template is set up correctly, that alone will automatically take care of the formatting of your headings, sub-headings, and text on your website front end.
If you present a chaotic mishmash to search engines, the cost of scanning and indexing your web page is higher than for another website that delivers a cleanly coded web page.
Therefore, here's a much better solution: never, never, never, ever use word processing software to write articles for online use. A word processor-based article can look okay on the front end of your website, yet still offering a tangled mess to search engines. Expect to be penalized if you do. Remember, here, we're interesting in serving both people and search engines.
If you absolutely must write your content in a separate offline software application:
- Understand that you are creating extra work for yourself. Creating your website content will almost certainly take longer.
- If you like working harder, use any plain text editor like Windows Notepad, or TextEdit for the Mac, to create and save your content. Though when you copy and paste this into a Joomla web page editor window, you'll need to remember to use your BACKSPACE key a lot, to remove each and every hard paragraph break in your plain text document (which is why I suggest just use your Joomla website editor instead).
Assuming that you want to create your new web page content item online using the Joomla JCE - or equivalent - web page editor, using the steps in this guide, you can:
- While working on your document, set your document as "Unpublished".
- Create your draft content using only the 4 or 5 web page editor buttons outlined below.
- Save your draft web page often while you are crafting your web page content item. That means, you don't have to write your entire content item, article, or blog entry, in a single session. You can come back to your draft content item at a later time or date to continue or finish writing your web page.
- When you're ready to make your content item live, you can then set your document status to "Published", and make the document available.
Instead, by taking the smart decision to use your Joomla JCE editor, for most day-to-day web page creations, you'll probably only need to use a small selection of the JCE editor toolbar buttons. I typically create a new web page using only four or five such buttons.
Therefore, assuming that your web page editor does include commands / buttons that allow you to:
- Write content, plus ...
- Save your new content in draft form, unpublished, and ...
- Not publish your content (make live), until you are ready ...
... then I don't recommend that you write your website content on any device other than your web page editor.
Why: you already have most everything you need to create great content within a Joomla website for both people and search engines.
In the same way that a carpenter might use a power saw to saw wood, by using your web page editor only for web page content creation, you're using the right tool for the job.
Therefore, to recap, using the Joomla JCE editor, if you just want to start writing an article or blog entry, and perhaps finish the item another time:
- After Step 3 below, under the "New Article" section, look for "Status", and set this from the default "Published" to "Unpublished". Then, when you save your article, all your previous work and changes are preserved, but nothing is published.
- When you come back to the article during your next session or subsequent sessions, as soon as you’re ready to make the article published, after Step 10 in Part 3, just set your article status back to "Published" and then continue the remaining Step 11 in Part 3 of this mini-guide.
So let's apply all that we've learned above to actually create a new content article that is helpful to people and friendly to search engines.
Create Your Web Page Content Using Only 5 Buttons
With your JCE editor installed and configured, you can now create articles and blog entries to meet requirements of most day-to-day needs, using only 5 buttons on the web page editor default toolbar. Those buttons are:
- Insert Read More: usually, the sixth button from the right side of the default / top toolbar). For creating the article or blog preview text and the automatic "Read more …" button separator on blog page listings and article page listings.
- Heading 2: available from the "Paragraph" drop-down list button. Use the Heading 2 button to create a H2 sub-heading, and to ensure good search engine optimization of your page.
- Heading 3: available from the "Paragraph" drop-down list button. Use the Heading 3 button to create a H3 sub-heading, and to ensure good search engine optimization of your page.
- Insert / Edit Image: usually, the eighth button from the right side of the default / top toolbar. Use your "Insert / Edit Image" button to insert, align, and edit pictures on the content page.
- Insert / Edit Link: usually, the seventh button from the right side of the default / top toolbar. Use your "Insert / Edit Link" button to insert and edit hyperlinks in the content area of the page. You can convert text and pictures to hyperlinks using this button.
Please note: If you are wondering why I haven't included Heading 1 (H1) in the list above, when your web design has been created and coded correctly, your first heading on the page is the single most important page heading, so should automatically be set up to use Heading 1 (H1). Since Heading 1 (H1) format is automatic, when you choose a title for the page in your Joomla JCE web page editor, all you need do is carefully focus on how to choose the best wording for your web page heading / title, as explained further.
This web page was created using 4 of the buttons listed above, plus 3 more: "Heading 4", "Toggle Spellchecker" (I hope we have identified all errors :-), and the Joomla K2 "Image" button.
The web publishing tools we have access to today are simply fantastic! Anyone with a web access device and a website can connect with thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people, simply typing or talking website content into existence.
So now that we have learned the basics, let's explore how to create stunning website pages.