A Joomla Blog by People Who Care

4Web Inc. creates highly customized websites using Joomla!, an extremely flexible and robust content management system, to meet our clients' online business goals and marketing objectives. Experience, honesty and ingenuity are the foundation of our approach for creating engaging, responsive and strategic online business solutions. We take being part of the Joomla community seriously so we make sure to time to share some our Joomla findings here.


Have you heard of Joomla? Samara and Jen learn Joomla 1.6!

Samara Iodice, my producer at lynda.com, and I had just finished up recording the Joomla 1.6 Beta Preview videos, and we had a little extra time. What would we do with ourselves?

We grabbed Lucas Deming and his video camera, and we headed out around the lynda.com building to ask people the question: What is Joomla?

Read the whole blog post and be sure to watch the video!

Guests in order of appearance include:

  • Samara Iodice and Curt Frye, author
  • Brian Ruiz
  • Ken Crowder, Joomla author extraordinaire
  • Andy Ta
  • Fatima Anes
  • Tanya Staples and Garrick Chow
  • Max Smith
  • James Williamson, author
  • Nick Passick

Watch for the "author's cut" video coming up next week!

Joomla!Day DC: Presentation and websites for evaluation

My presentation is posted as a PDF.

For my talk on Website Strategy and Planning, I have a bunch of sites for review.

Find a partner or two. Then choose one of the below sites:

For the site you've chosen, answer the following questions as best you can:

  • What does the owner want to get out of the site?
  • Who are their users and what do they want?
  • What experience is provided?
  • What would you keep? What is the site doing well?
  • What, if anything, would improve the site?


Creating a single custom template with no columns, 2 columns, or 3 columns

Two people in two days have asked me the same question, so I thought I'd post my answer here.

Let's say you have a simple three-column design for your website. There's a left, middle, and right column.

However, you need variations depending on the modules assigned (or not) to the left and right columns. The middle column always displays the content for the page. This is where the component lives.

So, here are 4 snippets you can use to make this magic happen in your own template. I'm sure software engineers would find a way to combine them all and make them efficient... but I've left them spelled out so they're clear to the designer-types out there.

The variations covered below are:

  • left, middle, and right
  • middle only
  • middle and right
  • left and middle

&& means AND, i.e. both things are true.

Putting a ! in front of the parenthesis means the whole thing is the opposite. So ($this->countModules('right')) means if there are ARE right modules assigned to this page. If you say (!$this->countModules('right')) then that's if there ARE NOT right modules assigned to this page.

Each middle column (or main content area) has a different ID associated with it. My assumption is that you will need this so that you can adjust the width of the middle column to occupy unused space via CSS, and to leave space for the left and right columns.

I've also assumed there's a single module position called "left" in the left column and a single module position called "right" in the right column. Note that you could add more module positions as required, or you could put module positions in the middle column in addition to the component.

This code should work for both Joomla 1.5 and 1.6 templates.

Left, middle, and right columns

<?php if ($this->countModules('right') && $this->countModules('left') ) : ?>  <div id="left"><jdoc:include type="modules" name="left" style="xhtml" /></div>
  <div id="right"><jdoc:include type="modules" name="right" style="xhtml" /></div>
  <div id="mainContent"><jdoc:include type="message" /><jdoc:include type="component" /></div>
<?php endif; ?>

Middle column only

<?php if (!$this->countModules('right') && !$this->countModules('left') ) : ?>   <div id="mainContentonly"><jdoc:include type="message" /><jdoc:include type="component" /></div>
<?php endif; ?>


Left and middle columns

<?php if (!$this->countModules('right') && $this->countModules('left') ) : ?>   <div id="left"><jdoc:include type="modules" name="left" style="xhtml" /></div>
  <div id="mainContentnoleft"><jdoc:include type="message" /><jdoc:include type="component" /></div>
<?php endif; ?> 


Middle and right columns

<?php if ($this->countModules('right') && !$this->countModules('left') ) : ?>   <div id="right"><jdoc:include type="modules" name="right" style="xhtml" /></div>
  <div id="mainContentnoright"><jdoc:include type="message" /><jdoc:include type="component" /></div>
<?php endif; ?>




Company Photo Day!

Since we've hired Gwen as a full-time employee, once again, it was time to get company pictures taken.

And as always, we went to visit our old friend Tom Raffelt over at New England Studio. Tom is the only photographer who can make taking pictures fun for me. If you need some professional photos taken for your website, we always recommend Tom -- he does a great job, plus he's lots of fun to work with!

We wanted one photo of all three of us, plus individual head shots to appear on the site.

We brought along one inflatable penguin, which we got from Ryan Ozimek at Joomla Day New England. (Thank you, Ryan!!!) The penguin is the symbol of open source software, and it just seemed to fit the mood of what we were trying to achieve. We wanted to convey that we're fun and approachable, but we didn't want to be unprofessional.

The photo came out great!

Tom told us that he needed an hour to get things touched up in Photoshop and burned on a CD. As it was lunchtime, we went over to Fritz's...

As Mike Hoefer tweeted, "Three women walk into a restaurant with an inflatable penguin..."

Professional photos are so important for your website, so make sure you take the time and pay the money to get them done right. Just look at the difference between the first, beautiful photo, and my crappy cell phone photo just below, which is poorly lit and badly exposed. Unfortunately, we see photos like this on websites all the time.

Remember that photos sell the product. In this case, Gwen, Heidi, and I ARE the product. This photo has really improved the look of the 4Web site and we are very happy with the outcome!

Have you updated the photos on your site lately?