Amid the thousands of available extensions for users of Joomla, though, a few stand heads and shoulders above the rest. There are a few extensions that add great functionality, improve or replace standard Joomla features, and lead to better website operation for those who are serious about content marketing, user engagement, and more.
The thing that sets Joomla apart from many competitors is its unique article creation system, which has been almost exclusively designed for those who use Joomla to manage a blog instead of a more diverse number of content types. The system can still manage things like videos, images, and social media, but it's an article-centric platform by its nature. That being said, though, some of Joomla's most loyal users have found even this article-centric design to be a bit insufficient for their needs.
Those users have taken it upon themselves to create the popular extension known as K2. Essentially, K2 functions as a complete replacement for the built-in article management system that focuses more on collaborative publishing environments and templated articles. The system allows for the pre-creation of templates for things like images, videos, social posts, and regular textual content. Its collaborative features allow posts to be edited and worked on by multiple authors until they're published, and its interface is far more streamlined than Joomla's own article management system. That makes the free K2 extension one of the best on the market for publishing.
Though its name might be a bit perplexing, its function is simple: The SH404SEF plugin is designed to vastly improve the built-in SEO features that come standard with a vanilla Joomla installation. Most people who use the system to create content marketing articles have found that it simply isn't good at managing duplicate content, 404 error pages, and search-friendly URLs. Instead of working with each of these features on a case-by-case basis, a few marketing pros developed SH404SEF to add a robust SEO control panel to the system.
Using SH404SEF, administrators can monitor and control 404 error pages, and they can monitor things like micro-URLs, canonical and search-friendly URLS, and meta descriptions. This intensive SEO management extension is a big boost for Joomla sites that are looking to move up the rankings at Google and other major search engines.
Several years ago, Google developed an XML sitemap standard that was designed to allow website owners to guide the search engine toward their most important and relevant content. Known as the Google Sitemap, the approach was soon adopted by competing search engines like Bing and Yahoo, and it's now considered an industry standard for websites that are serious about SEO. The sitemap changes every time a new article is posted, though, and it must be updated to reflect new content or pages.
The Xmap extension for Joomla handles the sitemap submission process with ease, and it can be configured to automatically create a new sitemap based on new posts, pages, categories, or other content. The sitemap itself can be customized in a number of ways to highlight specific content or pages, further enhancing SEO
4. jQuery Easy
There's something about jQuery that can frustrate even the most seasoned web developers. Despite its relatively robust set of animations and other features, the toolset has always been a bit nitpicky and can give developers some real headaches when they're crafting new templates for Joomla or other systems. The jQuery Easy extension is designed to at least minimize the number of headaches experienced by Joomla's developers.
Using the extension, Joomla website developers will be able to spotlight problems in their code and diagnose them with ease. Using the MooTools framework, they can also host entire jQuery libraries within Joomla for easy inclusion in templates and other frameworks. It's the best central management system for jQuery development available for the platform, and it's free.
5. Mobile Joomla
In an era when smartphone and tablet sales are easily eclipsing the sales of traditional desktops and laptops, it's important for every website to be mobile. Unfortunately, many Joomla users just don’t have time to develop their own mobile-friendly templates and themes. That's where the free Mobile Joomla extension comes in. With this unique extension, Joomla users can actually create a basic mobile theme that will work on small smartphones and larger tablet screens.
As part of the extension, device sizes and types will be detected each time a user visits the website. If the extension finds that they're using a smartphone or tablet device, it will automatically swap out the traditional, desktop-friendly design for the one that was designed for mobile devices. There's no easier way to join the mobile revolution.
Though much has changed about web design during the 21st century, one thing remains relatively consistent: Tabs are a great way to create a navigation area or spotlight certain pages within the website's content hierarchy. Creating such tabs, though, can be a pretty big hassle for those Joomla users who are not familiar with XHTML, CSS, and even jQuery. To prevent plenty of frustrating development issues, the Tabs plugin was developed in order to create easy, automated tabs for any page.
Using the extension’s built in control panel, Joomla users can easily create tabs with any kind of text, to virtually any page or content type, within the Joomla ecosystem. Even external links can be created for pages that lie outside of the Joomla system.
7. Warp 6
The Warp 6 framework is an extension of a different kind, targeted primarily at those Joomla users who will be spending most of their time creating new themes for their site or others. The framework embraces CSS3, HTML5 and XHTML, and jQuery, to create rich websites are responsive and ready to meet the needs of today's Internet users. Best of all, it comes at no additional cost and includes all of the necessary libraries to create websites of all kinds.
8. Joomla Content Editor
When it comes to creating and editing content, most people who install Joomla immediately start searching for something better than the included editor. That's where Joomla Content Editor, or JCE, comes in quite handy. The system is designed to look and feel almost like Microsoft Word, and it allows for WYSIWYG creation and editing of posts that will work well for novice users of the content management system. This vast improvement over Joomla's own editor will ensure that every post looks stunning within the control panel and on the front page of the website itself.
9. Akeeba Backup
If there is one rule of life online, it's to make sure that a backup is always available and recent, preventing against damaging data loss that can result from server crashes, hacking attempts, and many other events. Though Joomla does not include its own full site backup feature, the Akeeba Backup extension offers this feature to users who install and configure the extension.
Backups can be scheduled, and the information backed up can be specified in the extension's settings, making this free extension a lifesaver for those who have been affected by the internet's most nefarious users and events.
The ChronoForms extension is an absolute essential for anyone who needs to create a form that integrates with outside websites, including payment processors and more. The system can also create standard contact forms and other typical layouts, but its strength lines in being able to interface with payment processors, third-party content websites, and other sites that require user submission of data.
The connection between a Joomla blog and an outside website via this form is seamless and invisible to the site's end users. It creates an experience that is professional, perfectly designed, and highly effective. For no cost at all, ChronoForms can make payment, contact, and user engagement, significantly easier.
Scores of Great Plugins for the Joomla Content Management System
If there is one thing that characterizes Joomla, and many other content management systems, it's their open nature. The open-source code that lies behind the Joomla interface has opened it up to a large number of developers who have seized the opportunity to extend, improve, and otherwise enhance the long list of features included with Joomla at the time of first installation.
With plugins that can do everything from jQuery debugging to contact form creation, the Joomla system represents one of the best option for both novice and advanced website owners alike. Be sure to look for these and many other excellent plugins after installing the system in order to create the perfect website for any need.