“You cannot build dynamic websites until you forget most of what you learned building static sites.”
Written by Marco Conti Sunday, 04 February 2007 09:02
Joomla is a fantastic tool for building modern and dynamic websites. However, many people new to Joomla find it hard to set up their site to mimic a non-portal site with one or more fixed articles on the front or main home page. In this article I will try to explain some of the tricks you can use to achieve this effect while keeping the RSS feed and the blog style layout of the dynamic content.
In Joomla the "Home" page is not just a regular page. In fact, the "Frontpage", as it is called, is nothing more than a Joomla component in its own right.
In a regular Joomla site the "Frontpage" allows the user to publish selected articles in a "blog" or "portal" style. While this is a nice feature and one of the things that make Joomla so powerful, many websites need a Home page with a fixed article to greet and guide visitors or illustrate the site purpose. While this is actually easy to achieve, it is not immediately evident. I will assume you know your way around Joomla! by now, but even if you don't these techniques should be fairly easy to follow.
This is possibly the easiest technique of all. Create a static content item and in your administration area go to the "Menu Manager".
Choose "Main Menu", link the static content you created (or alternatively, make a link to it from the content pane) and once
you are done move the link to the number 1 spot in the list of links of Main Menu.
In Joomla the topmost link in the Main Menu is the site's home page. Go back to the live site and you'll see that your static article is your home page.
To keep your RSS feed (remember, in Joomla only the Frontpage has an RSS feed attached to it) move the previously named "Home" link elsewhere. Because of its blog style appearance and functionality you can move it to a link named "Blog" if you need a blog on the site with an RSS feed and it will work just fine for that purpose.
What if you need a static, fixed article on your Home page but you want to retain the ability to publish other articles on your home page in more of a "portal" style? In this case you'll need to get your hands dirty a bit and follow this procedure:
Before you save, go to the top of the interface and make sure you:
Wait, you are not done. Now you'll need to make a small change to your template.
If you need help finding a good spot for your new module, do this:
Try also without the suffix if you want. Just remember you have the option.
Now, you should have your regular "Frontpage" working as usual but you'll also have a static content item at the very top. If you need to display also other static content while still having the dynamic "blog" style content, you can repeat the process by placing more modules in the same position, placing another position anywhere on the page or placing modules with static content in the side positions.
Just remember to publish the static content exclusively on the home page or every page will have the same static content in it and remember that your static content is no longer in the regular Joomla content structure and each time you need to update it you'll need to go to the module manager.
There is also a contribution that substitutes the Frontpage component and does pretty much the same thing on its own. It is called "MJ Frontpage" and it is available here http://extensions.joomla.org/component/option,com_mtree/task,viewlink/link_id,995/Itemid,35/
To install simply use the regular component installer and go to components > MJ Frontpage. There you will find a content pane for your static content. All the features of the Frontpage should be available but read the documentation to make sure.
This should be it's own article and I will only touch on it in passing. however, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that in Joomla it's possible to customize the order in which your articles appear in any kind of list, blog or even in the Frontpage.
To have an article permanently fixed in your Frontpage you need to make sure that you set up the custom ordering of your Sections, Categories and single articles. This is trickier than it sounds and as I said it merits it's own article, but if you know even just a bit of Joomla you should be able to figure it out by going to the Category manager, Section Manager and content manager, place the sections, categories and content in the order you prefer and make sure you select the custom ordering in your Frontpage preferences ( Admin > top menu > Content > Frontpage Manager).
The drawback of this system is that your RSS feed will also be affected by it and it will display in the same order, making it appear at first glance as if it wasn't updated in a while.
I hope you found this article useful and feel free to let me know how I can improve it. Good luck
Marco Conti is the owner - webmaster of conticreative.com, a web agency specializing in Open Source integration for e-commerce, CMS and SEO.
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