When it comes to running a blog, Joomla leaves a lot to be desired. Despite its strengths as a content management system, it lacks some core features that we have come to expect in a blog. But that doesn’t mean it can’t make an effective blogging platform. It just requires a few upgrades.
“But why even bother? WordPress was built for blogging”
This is a valid question and I know it’s going to come up, so let me say this: There isn’t much of a debate about which CMS is better suited for blogging. WordPress wins hands down. If all you need is a blog and you’re starting from scratch, use WordPress This post isn’t meant to debate the merits of Joomla versus WP.
The point of this post is to help Joomla users obtain the tools they need to run a blog. It’s also directed at WordPress users who find themselves using Joomla for one reason or another, whether by client preference or because it ends up being better suited for a particular project.
Regardless of the reason why you’re using Joomla, it’s important that you have the ability to blog, so let’s get started.
Adding the missing features
Setting up a basic blog in Joomla is pretty straight forward. The ability to write posts (“articles” in Joomla) is standard, as well as the ability to organize them by category. All you have to do is assign a menu item to your blog category and you’re good to go.
And that’s about the time you realize what’s missing. How do people leave comments? Where’s the author information? Why can’t visitors share posts?
Thankfully, there are a variety of extensions available in the Joomla Extension Directory (JED) that make adding these missing features a breeze. Let’s explore each area in detail.
Perhaps the most obvious blogging feature that Joomla lacks is the ability for visitors to comment on your posts. At present, there are several dozen extensions that make commenting possible.
Both have received the distinguished “community choice” designation from Joomla Magazine and are compatible with Joomla 2.5.
Another standard blog feature that Joomla lacks is the ability to display author information before or after posts. To add this capability, look no further than the Author Info Box. It’s free to use and compatible with Joomla 2.5. Using this plugin, you can display an email address, avatar, and description along with each author’s name.
A final piece that’s important for a successful blog is social sharing. At the time of this post, the two top rated social sharing extensions are AddThis for Joomla and Facebook-Twitter-Google+1. Both are compatible with Joomla 2.5 and provide the ability to share your articles on the most popular social networks.
An all-in-one blogging solution
If you would like to blog within Joomla and avoid installing multiple extensions, there are a few “all-in-one” extensions that will do the job.
In my opinion, the best option is K2, which is a powerful content construction extension that gives you complete control over your content in Joomla. It provides everything discussed in this post and more, including item images, image galleries, tags, multiple layouts, and user pages.
The only downside to K2 is that there’s a little more work needed to configure everything (nothing overly difficult, just more time intensive). However, if you do a lot of publishing on your site and need more flexibility, K2 is worth the effort. A great example of what K2 can do can be seen over at the CMS blog.
Joomla certainly isn’t the ideal blog platform, but everything you need to make it work is only a download away. And thanks to the awesome Joomla developer community, some of the best extensions are available for free.
Is there an important blog feature that I’m missing? An extension that deserves a mention? Please share with me in the comments!
Image Credit: Joomla