Ive just finished doing a handover on an old site I developed for someone a few years ago and had to start at the very start. Well not quite the turn the computer on kind of start but close enough. It got me thinking to what are the first five things you talk to a new Joomla user about? How do you break the ice for people that are completely new to the CMS concept or even just completely new to editing websites via a browser and not frontpage, dreamweaver or some other old school technology?

Aside from the usual stuff like accessing the administrator, answering the question about how much Joomla costs and sharing in the joy that you can really make immediate changes to a website via the browser, these are the things that I talk to them first about.

1. Joomla users and access permissions.

This is a pretty obvious place to start but often feels like Im putting the cart before the horse in some respects. I often detail how to create new users and discuss the various access levels available first in order to give them a sense that they have an immediate role to play. Joomla and web based cms's are empowering things so no better way to empower someone than give them immediate access to their site.

2. Content and it's hierarchy - Sections, categories, content.

The content items on a site are perhaps the most accessible elements of a Joomla website given that in most cases the user isn't going to be changing the setup much (or as the designer you hope they aren't) and its what they are going to be dealing with the most. The concept of changing the content is also in my opinion the most easily grasped, considering how straight forward the use and control of content is in Joomla. It's an impressive part of the introductory lesson that you can make instant changes to your website - for anyone with even a small amount of experience with Joomla this is old hat but for the new user I think this is gold.

I tend to throw in a line here about the content hierarchy that constitutes the way that Joomla handles its content. Im yet to meet anyone who has trouble with understanding the cascading hierarchy of sections, categories and content. Even though we will touch on the importance of having a good section/category structure or perhaps even suggest using one of the cck's this is a good enough place to start.

3. Checking in items. using save, apply and close wisely.

Checking in items and navigating around the content items is another easy one to teach the new user. Most of the time they get the importance of properly closing an item but I cant count the number times Ive been asked to fix the issue with the locks. Even if they write this one down they are bound to forget it.

4. Creating links, adding images using the read more.

Of course the user wants to create links and images to content items and its a pretty straight forward task even for the most tech challenged newbie. The more easily understood tips that you can give the client will build their confidence and bolster them when it comes time to address the more complex stuff later on down the track.

5. Templates - the main component space vs module positions.

Once you have user access and content control under your belt it's time to dive in a little deeper and to start to outline why different elements appear on the page. Differentiating the main content/component space vs module positions is important if there are a lot of modules used on the page. I think it gives the new user and better grasp of the granular modularity and the potential flexibility they have when controlling their site. This of course leads the way into talking about the different modules available to Joomla and how best to not overuse them on the site that you just carefully created for them.

Number six on the list for me is most likely explaining the basics for menu items and then perhaps going into components in a little more depth but this is the place I start with most introductory overviews. Where do you start?

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