5 Steps for Creating your Category Folder Structure
We now have our custom Editor and Template installed and configured. Before we write articles, we need to set up the categories to put the articles in. This section describes 5 steps for creating the Category folder structure of our website. These steps are done only once. But you can add more categories later if needed.
Step One: Create your Website Table of Contents using Categories
Your website categories are like the chapters of a book. Your website, including your Main Menu should be more than just a collection of pages and links to navigate between pages. It should be organized like the Table of Contents in a book, describing the layout of the book and the logical flow from one page to the next by organizing the page subjects into chapters (which Joomla called categories). Only AFTER designing the structure of your website will you be ready to build your Joomla website. First you create the structure or the plan for your new house. Then you create the webpages and put them all in like building blocks in the proper place in the house. In this article, we will outline how to create categories which are the crucial first steps in building your website.
Understanding the Joomla Content Management System
The first step is to consider the entire layout of your website – not merely what it will look like now, but what it might look like in the future. Building your website is like building a home. You may want to start with a simple one story, one room house. But most folks add extra rooms onto their homes over time. You want to plan ahead by designing and building a solid foundation so that you do not need to tear down your entire home when it comes time to add that extra bedroom.
Your website main menu is like the Table of Contents in a book.
There are several reasons to organize your website main menu like the Table of Contents in a book. The first is that your website viewers have been reading books and magazines and newspapers all their life. They are used to seeing a Table of Contents and having the content organized into Chapters and Pages (or in the case of a Newspaper, Sections and Pages and Articles). The Main Menu should be a Table of Contents which your viewer can quickly scan through in order to understand the organization of your website and where they might be able to find a particular page or article they are interested in reading. Another important reason is conservation of space. Unlike a book, the Main Menu will and should appear on every page to help the viewer with Site Navigation. Also modern pages often have a Header Image at the top of the screen and a Multimedia Slide Presentation near the top of the screen.
Plan Ahead… Organize your Categories to allow for Future Growth
Imagine you are writing a 400 page book. You may start out by just writing the first 4 pages. But over time, the book might grow into 40 or more pages. You should plan ahead so that you do not need to re-write the entire book just because you are adding extra pages and even extra chapters. You do not want your Table of Contents to be merely 40 randomly entered Page Titles. Instead, you should organize your book into Chapters so that there are four sections per chapter. So your 400 page book might have 10 chapters each with 40 pages. You can further divide these 40 pages into 4 sections each with 10 pages. This is exactly the structure we are using on this website, namely 10 categories with 4 sections or articles per category. Each section is a single page or link on the website. But each section is typically about 10 pages of text and images which is read by scrolling down the web page
Using our book analogy, the Joomla name for pages in the book is Articles, the Joomla name for Chapters in the book is Categories and the Joomla name for Table of Contents is the Main Menu:
Book Name >>> Joomla Name
Pages >>> Articles
Chapters >>> Categories
Table of Contents >>> Main Menu
There is an unfortunate tendency to head straight to the Menu Manager to try to create your menu. But the first thing to know about Menus is that they are creating links to actual pages. You first need to write some pages before you use the Menu Manager to create your links. This leads to the second unfortunate tendency which is to start writing articles. This leads to a poorly organized website. To use the house building analogy, you should not start building a house by constructing a bunch of rooms and hoping they will fit together. Instead, you first need to design a PLAN for the House and write this plan down on paper. In Joomla, there are two levels to this plan. The first level is the CATEGORIES. And the second level includes the actual ARTICLES. So you begin your house plan (or your book) by defining some categories. We will do this next.
Create Your Joomla Category Structure
One of the many purposes of a Joomla website is to help you organize the structure of your pages. This is why Joomla is called a Content Management System (CMS). With all Joomla websites, Web pages are called Articles, which are organized into Categories. Articles are placed inside of categories. Try to make these decisions before you ever open the Joomla Administrator page and get them written down on a Table of Contents for your website just as if you were writing a book.
After you create a Main Menu which matches the Content Structure above, the Main Menu for your website would then look like the following:
Front Page l Why Topic Important l Solutions l Plan of Action l Contact Us
Each Category link on the Main Menu above leads to a sub-menu with the articles. For example, the sub-menu for the category Possible Solutions would include links to three articles, Options 1, 2 and 3. Sub-menus can also be displayed directly in Joomla as hidden “drop down” menu items. You can always change and expand your Website Article Structure later. But get something down on paper at the beginning.
Example Two: createyourowninteractivewebsite.com
Our website has ten categories plus a front page only category. There are 4 Articles in each category. Thus, our Table of Contents looks like the following:
Website: Build Your Own Business Website (10 categories) (41 Articles)
Category #0 Front Page only
0.1 Welcome to Create Your Own Interactive Website!
Category #1: Start Here
1.1 Why Joomla is better than WordPress
1.2 Evolution of Web Building Tools
1.3 How to Protect your Online Business
1.4 Secure your website Domain Name and Hosting
Category #2: Site Set Up
2.1 Install Joomla on your website
2.2 Getting Started with your Joomla Interactive Website
2.3 How to Research Joomla Extensions
2.4 Add a Better Text Editor to Your Website
Category #3 Real Site Security
3.1 What is Real Website Security?
3.2 First 10 Steps to Website Security
3.3 Second 10 Steps to Website Security
3.4 Manage your Website Security over Time
Category #4: Site Appearance
4.1 How to Select a Flexible Template
4.2 Download and Set Up your Custom Template
4.3 Create a your own Custom Header
4.4 Website Layout Tips
Category #5: Site Content
5.1 Create Categories to Organize Web Pages
5.2 Write your Website Articles as a normal Document
5.3 Transfer Article Images to the Media Manager
5.4 Post your Article with the Article Manager
Category #6: Site Navigation
6.1 How to create Menu Item Links
6.2 Create Category and Article Menu Items
6.3 Divide and Links your Web Pages
6.4 Create a Module Based Menu Page
Category #7 Custom Modules & Module Menus
7.1 Make Custom Modules
7.2 Place Module Menu Items in an Article
7.3 Use the Sparky Mega Menus to Place Modules in a Menu
7.4 Make Dynamic Modules
Category #8: Slideshows & Videos
8.1 Add a Front Page Slide Show
8.2 Place a Slide Show in an Article
8.3 Insert a Video in an Article
8.4 Place a Video in a Module
Category #9 Design & Use Feedback Forms
9.1 Add Feedback Forms to Your Website
9.2 Create a Contact Us Feedback Form
9.3 Create a Feedback Form Notification System
9.4 Add a Feedback Form Menu Item
Category #10 Site Management Tools
10.1 Add a Downloads Manager
10.2 Search Engine Optimization
10.3 Add a Site Map
10.4 Add a Website Broken Link Redirection Tool