Web Design and Joomla: Mistakes of the Beginner

11. Resizing images in the Joomla editor

Another common mistake is when the user uploads uncompressed versions of their images, and then thinks it’s okay to shrink them in the Joomla editor.

When you do this, the browser loads the uncompressed version of the image, and then spends another couple of milliseconds resizing it, so it’s actually delaying the page loading, rather than making it load faster.

It’s an easy fix though. Just make sure you optimise your images before you upload them to your website.


12. Typing your content in Joomla’s editor and not having a separate backup

It’s always safer to write your content in a standard text editor, and then paste it into your Joomla editor. Writing your content directly into the editor is a bad idea, and here’s why…

By default, Joomla will log you out after 15 minutes of inactivity, so if you spend more than 15 minutes typing up your content in Joomla, and then hit Save, you will be redirected to the login screen, and your data will not have been saved!

Admittedly, you can change the Session Lifetime to a longer value, but why risk it? The server or your internet may lose connection, so it’s always better to have a copy of your work on your computer as a backup.


13. Copying your content from MS Word

This often causes problems. MS Word contains lots of strange formatting styles that transfer over to your Joomla editor when you copy and paste directly from a Word document.

Yes, there is a button in Joomla’s editor to strip out any formatting, but why copy from Word in the first place?


14. Not keeping Joomla and extensions up to date

If you don’t keep on top of Joomla and extension updates, your site is at great risk of getting hacked. One of the most common assumptions website owners make is that hackers wouldn’t target their website because they’re a small, local, independent company, so hackers would have no interest in hijacking their site.

What these people don’t realise is that, in most cases, hackers don’t specifically target websites they want to hack. Instead, they target ANY website with a vulnerability, and vulnerabilities exist in dated software, so it’s essential to keep Joomla and its extensions up to date.  

Not only that, but updates often incorporate new features and performance improvements, so why not? Just make sure you test your website after performing the updates to make sure everything’s still working.


15. Updating your Site to the Latest Version of Joomla and then keeping the old site in a backup folder

When you rebuild your Joomla website to the latest version, you are (whether intentionally or not) updating it to improve security. But when you’ve uploaded your new website, you still want a backup of the old website in case anything goes wrong with the new site, or whether you need to go back for something.

That’s all fine, but many make the foolish mistake of keeping the backup on the same server as the new website, usually within a folder called ‘OLD-SITE’ or something similar. The problem with this is that the old, vulnerable version of Joomla still exists on the server, and is therefore still accessible to hackers - putting your new, supposedly stable website at risk.

By all means keep a backup of your old website, but store it locally on your computer, not on the same server on which your website runs!


16. Not performing regular backups

An often neglected task, backing up your website can reduce headaches in many situations. Whenever you update Joomla or an extension, it can often cause errors or conflicts with your website, so it is definitely recommended to backup your site before performing any updates.

Not only that, but if you inadvertently mess up your website in any way, it’s always good to have a backup on which to rely.

It can seem like an effort to create a backup, but it is important. On a more depressing note, what if your website gets hacked and your last resort is to revert to a backup?


17. Not being able to install extensions because your tmp path is wrong

A simple but common error… when you try to install a Joomla extension but get an error message, it is often caused by having the tmp path set incorrectly in your configuration.php file.

Joomla uses the tmp folder while processing installation files, so if it’s not set correctly, you won’t be able to install anything.

The most common occurrence of this is when you manually transfer your local copy of your website to a web server, and then forget to change the tmp path in the process.


18. Forgetting to update plugins when there are errors

Have you ever experienced an error / bug with Joomla or an extension, and tore your hair out trying to debug and fix the problem, only to then update Joomla or the extension to the latest version, and notice that the problem is fixed?

Problems often arise with old software, which reinforces that you should always keep Joomla and extensions up to date.


19. Forgetting to Clear the Joomla Cache

It’s surprising how often clearing the cache can fix things. With cache enabled, Joomla stores parts of your website to make it load faster, and only updates after a certain amount of time, or when you clear the cache manually.

So when you’re experiencing issues with your website, such as an error or, more commonly, your front end not updating your changes - check to see if Joomla cache is enabled and, if so, clear your cache. There’s a good chance it will fix your problem!


20. Overwriting core Joomla files

Often you will need to edit Joomla’s core files, but there’s a right way and a wrong way of doing this. The wrong way is to directly edit the files within the standard Joomla folders; the right way is to set up a template override.

If you edit Joomla’s core files, initially you won’t experience any issues, but as soon as you perform a Joomla update (or an update to an extension you’ve edited), you’re changes will be lost.

So always create a template override when updating Joomla’s core files.


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