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What is Joomla? Understanding the popular CMS

Darren H

2 Mar 20226 min read • Web Hosting, WordPress

If you're pondering the question: what is Joomla? You're in the right place. We're going to explore precisely that in this article.

In short, Joomla is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) built entirely by a community of volunteers. It started its journey in 2005 and is now one of the most-used CMSs globally.

Corporate websites like IKEA, Lipton Ice Tea, and Holiday Inn use Joomla to build and manage their sites and apps, enabled by its model-view-controller web application framework (more on this later!).

In a CMS world so dominated by WordPress, it’s easy to forget other valid alternatives are available. That’s why we’re here to introduce you to Joomla and help you understand one of the world’s most popular open-source CMSs.

But, first of all, for the uninitiated, what's a CMS?

Put simply, a CMS (content management system) is an online platform used to manage and publish web content. It enables users to create, edit and publish content onto a website without needing a web programmer. In other words, CMSs make online content creation possible for non-technical users. As such, CMSs are often the base for creating websites, blogs, and powerful online applications, with Joomla and WordPress as famous examples.

That's enough preamble; let's get into the nitty-gritty of this blog post...

Joomla’s core features

Joomla makes it possible for users to create websites and web applications with its user-friendly and customisable interface.

That said, here are some of Joomla's core features:

Design customisation

You can select from a choice of tailor-made Joomla templates for specific web pages, install them with one click, and customise them using Joomla's visual interface. In addition, Joomla uses Bootstrap to ensure perfectly responsive designs.

Plus, you can edit your Joomla website's CSS code and override templates anytime to make custom changes. The only limit is your imagination!

Content editing and publishing

You can schedule and publish articles and create several versions of your web content, which you can recover at a later date.

The control panel makes it easy to add and organise posts. In fact, you can create content categories without limit, so rest assured you can manage your content exactly to your liking. You can assign your content tags, too, for when categorisation isn't specific enough.

It's also simple to insert images and maintain files using Joomla's in-built media manager.

Additional features:

On top of everything mentioned above, we'd be remiss not to mention the following standout Joomla features:

  • Joomla enables you to create banners to monetise your site.
  • You can create and publish contact forms so that visitors can reach you.
  • You can showcase external news feeds on your site.
  • You can create an RSS feed.
  • You can set up a site search to make your website's navigation more accessible.

...And finally, Joomla also features in-built messaging between administrators.

Extensions and add-ons

While Joomla focuses its core features on basic application design and content management, it’s just as powerful when it comes to extensibility: Joomla boasts over 8,000 plugins in its extensions directory. Needless to say, these plugins come in handy for quickly extending the functionality of your Joomla site.

Technical underpinnings

Aside from Joomla’s core functionality, it’s also worth exploring its technical identity. After all, if you’re a developer, you might be interested to know what to expect from Joomla's backend...

PHP/ MySQL databases

MySQL is an open-source database management system and the most popular database system used with PHP today. It’s ideal for both large and small applications and is very fast and reliable. These databases are what Joomla is built on.

Model-View-Controller (MVC) design architecture

In the introduction to this article, we briefly mentioned that Joomla is a model-view-controller web application framework. This form of object-oriented programming unlocks a lot of benefits.

Without getting too technical, this is an architectural pattern separated into three components that interact with one another:

  1. The model: This is the component that handles all data. It determines how data is changed and manipulated through logical rules.
  2. The view: This component is used for the UI and the application's interface, such as text boxes, dropdowns, etc.
  3. The controller: This acts as an interface between the model and view components. It processes the logic and requests between function and design.

MVC models as employed by Joomla support the rapid and parallel development of web applications, enabling web developers to build multiple views of a single model. This makes it much easier to use the same application in many different ways.

Ease of use

Open-source software like Joomla requires you to download their application and use your own hosting or web server.

Often, this makes them sound more complex than they actually are, which is why it’s important to discuss how easy Joomla is to use. It’s probably more straightforward than you think.

Simple download and installation

Joomla has been downloaded over 125 million times, so you can be sure to easily follow the many users who have gone before you.

Joomla can be downloaded and installed like any other software. Just hit the download button on Joomla's website and extract the Zip file. Then, on the same page, you can opt to download Joomla's upgrade packages as needed. For more info, you can find precise instructions on Joomla's website.

Joomla website banner

From here, you can also download extensions from Joomla's directory and/or download any necessary language packages.

Lastly, if you don’t yet have hosting, you can still try Joomla by launching it on

launch page for Joomla

The visual WYSIWYG interface

Joomla uses a WYSIWYG interface. This seemingly complex abbreviation simply stands for “what you see is what you get.” In other words, the whole interface is handled visually. So, you'll always see exactly how your edits affect your website or application.

When it comes to usability, a WYSIWYG editor provides one significant advantage to flatten the learning curve: users don't need any markup or programming know-how.

Customise front-end and administrator interfaces

Thanks to Joomla's open-source nature, the platform is fully customisable. Not only can you entirely modify the front-end of your websites and applications, but you can also rely on extensions or manually edit Joomla’s code to customise the backend.

In fact, there are several admin-styling extensions in Joomla's directory that you can use to beautify the interface. This comes in handy because Joomla’s basic interface is a little outdated. So, if you want to shake things up a little, you have complete freedom to make the platform your own.

User experience

Generally speaking, Joomla provides an intuitive user experience. As we've already suggested, its front-end design is based on templates. This makes it much easier for new users to create great-looking sites without lots of coding, design, or HTML knowledge.

Additionally, the whole platform is natively multilingual. So if English isn’t your first language and you’d prefer an interface in your native tongue, you can choose from over 75 supported languages - which will also give your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) a boost, too!

Finally, Joomla is built for responsiveness. Again, this is an excellent asset for creators and visitors alike.


Joomla is frequently updated to maintain its high-security standards. It also features two-factor authentication and enables you to manage user permissions from your administration area.


Joomla has always been a free, open-source project built entirely on the shoulders of its community. Since its first conception, volunteers worldwide have contributed their diverse skillsets to make the platform what it is today.

With all this commitment to the cause, Joomla’s community has always been active and thriving. So it's no surprise that Joomla veterans continue to make improvements and continually add new themes and extensions into the mix.

And as you can imagine, you’ll never be far from help and tutorials inside of Joomla's forums. Here you can network with peers and developers and get advice as you start to navigate the platform.

screenshot of Joomla forums

Are you ready to give Joomla a try?

So, there you have it: our answer to the question ‘what is Joomla?’.

Let's wrap up by quickly summarising Joomla's most notable advantages:

  • Joomla is completely free! There are no costs associated with the CMS itself, and you can even host a free site using their subdirectory. This makes it an excellent option for small businesses and nonprofits on a tight budget.
  • Joomla's open-source framework enables you to modify any aspect of your site’s code and even customise your administrator interface.
  • The community continues to create powerful Joomla extensions to ensure access to the most up-to-date features and applications.
  • Joomla is very flexible. You can create anything you want!
  • It’s easy to use, especially if you have some web development smarts.

To get started with Joomla, all you need to do is download the platform from its website and find appropriate hosting.

Handy Hint: Do some research to find a hosting provider specifically designed for Joomla, making it quick and easy to install the application.

Krystal offers Joomla web hosting with lightning-fast SSD hosting, unlimited space, an SSL certificate for your site and scalable plans. It’s easy to migrate across to Krystal too, thanks to our award-winning, in-house support team.

Head over to our Joomla hosting page today to find the right hosting for your next Joomla project.

Still have questions about Joomla hosting? Drop us a line in Live Chat or ask in the comments below!

About the author

Darren H

I'm Darren and I'm the Senior Copywriter at Krystal. Words are what I do. Aside from writing, I play guitar and sing in my band Machineries Of Joy, work on getting my 2nd Dan in Taekwondo and seek adventure with my wife and daughter.

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