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Must-have Joomla Blog Extensions

This guest post is by Gere Jordan of Holony Media.

At first glance, Joomla isn’t the best platform for blogging. Actually, it’s probably not even in your top five. But that doesn’t negate all the strengths Joomla brings to the table as a content management system.

In fact, with the help of a few free extensions, it can rival some of the best blog platforms out there.

Why even give Joomla a chance?

I know what you’re thinking: why on earth would you even consider blogging with Joomla? It lacks core functionality that comes standard with WordPress, so why not use WP in the first place?

Well, without turning this post into a debate over the merits of Joomla versus WordPress, or any platform for that matter, let me just say this: Joomla is a powerful, mature content management system utilized by millions of websites worldwide. Millions of sites that would otherwise lack the ability to effectively run a blog.

Knowing the revenue and marketing potential of blogging, I think we can at least agree that Joomla users deserve the chance to make a go of it using their platform of choice. And that’s what this post is all about.

Not everything is missing

When you first set about creating a blog in Joomla, it takes a moment before you realize you’re in trouble. Adding posts (called “articles” in Joomla), organizing them by category, setting up multiple users, adding a blog area, sharing your RSS feed—all of this stuff is easy.

Once your first post is up, however, you start to notice things. Where’s the comment form? Why isn’t your profile information attached to your posts? How do users share your content?

A few Google searches later and you realize the truth: Joomla lacks some very important blog functionality.

Extensions to the rescue

Thankfully, like WordPress, Joomla has a vibrant community of developers creating plugins to expand upon its standard capabilities. These plugins are collectively known as extensions, and they’re easily accessible through the Joomla Extension Directory (JED).

Let’s dive into the JED and find the extensions we need to power our blog.

Comments

The most obvious blogging feature that Joomla lacks is the ability for visitors to comment on your posts. At present, several dozen comment extensions are available, spread across two categories in the extension directory.

Two of the top-rated comment extensions that you can get for free are JComments and Komento. Both are compatible with Joomla 2.5 and have received the illustrious “community choice” designation given by the Joomla Magazine team.

Author information

Another standard blog function that Joomla lacks is the ability to display author information within articles. All that you can show by default is the author’s name. This capability is built into WordPress, but whether it shows or not is dependent on your theme.

To add this capability in Joomla, check out the Author Info Box plugin. It’s free and compatible with Joomla 2.5. With this plugin, you can display a name, email address, image, and description for each author.

Social sharing

A final piece that’s important for a successful blog is social sharing, which allows readers to easily share your articles via social media. This is something that a standard WordPress install lacks as well.

As of this writing, two of the highest rated social sharing extensions in the JED are AddThis for Joomla and Facebook-Twitter-Google+1. Both are compatible with Joomla 2.5 and bring in the ability to share your articles via the most popular social channels.

Joomla all-in-one blogging extensions

If you’re looking to turn Joomla into a blog without installing multiple extensions, there are a few products that will do the job. You can find most of them in the blog category in the Joomla Extensions Directory, but the best ones will cost you some cash.

The best free all-in-one extension for blogging with Joomla is K2, which is an extremely powerful content construction component that gives you absolute control over your Joomla content. Not only does it do everything discussed in this post, it adds even more functionality like tags, item images, image galleries, user pages, and more.

The only downside to K2 is that there’s slightly more work involved to configure everything (nothing too difficult, just more time-intensive). However, if you’re looking to do a lot of publishing on your site and need more flexibility with your content, K2 is definitely worth the extra effort.

In conclusion

Just like WordPress and other platforms, a lot of Joomla’s power is derived from third-party extensions. By utilizing these extensions to add missing functionality, it’s relatively easy to turn Joomla into a blogging powerhouse.

Are there any noteworthy extensions that I am missing? Functionality that I left out? Please share in the comments!

Gere Jordan is a web designer, SEO, and internet marketing professional at Holony Media, a digital consulting company he founded in 2006.

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Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Wow, I did not know that Joomla was still around and going what seems to be half way strong. I can remember probably 5 or 6 years ago working with the Joomla platform and I really enjoyed.

    But it just seemed that everyone jumped to wordpress, and wordpress just makes everything so simple compared to what I was experiencing again probably 5+ years ago.

    Maybe after this post it’s worth taking another look at the Joomla.

    • Gere says:

      Hi Eric,

      Yep, Joomla is alive and kicking! Version 3.0 was released in late September. I agree that WordPress makes blogging and publishing much easier, but Joomla has some features and extensions that make it more powerful in certain circumstances. Definitely worth checking out the Joomla Extension Directory when considering your next project.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Gere

  2. Omar Habib says:

    Hi Gere Jordan,

    For blogging purpose will we use- Joomla or WordPress?
    As Joomla has lack of features than WP then why will we use Joomla?
    What is the benefit of using Joomla rather than WP?

    • Gere says:

      Hi Omar,

      For a straight blog, WordPress. No question.

      For sites that need additional functionality not found natively in either platform, Joomla is worth a look. Though developers seem to prefer WordPress and there’s obviously a vast array of plugins available for that platform, Joomla’s extension directory has some real gems. Plus, I think it’s better organized and either to navigate than the WordPress plugin directory.

      For example, a recent client of mine needed a dynamic event registration system built into their site, and none of the plugins available for WordPress could get the job done without some modifications. Joomla, on the other hand, had an extension available that did everything we needed right out of the box (DT Register). Since the registration feature was central to the site, it was worth utilizing the Joomla platform and sacrificing some of the blogging features available in WordPress.

      So it does come down a case by case basis, at least for me. When I know I’ll need more than a basic site, I compare the extensions available for each platform and go from there.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Gere

  3. Julzwriter says:

    I have a Joomla website which works great and I decided to start blogging on it. I used the Lyften Bloggie blog extension and it looked great at the start, but was totally dissapointed by it. Anytime someone commented, the whole blog post would dissappear and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Had to go through the trouble of moving my blogging platform to Joomla, which doesn’t have a commenting system. I am currently debating with myself whether I should go through the trouble of installing a commenting system or just leave it as it is.

    • Gere says:

      Sorry to hear about your problem. Sounds like it was pretty frustrating.

      In most circumstances, I would say it is worth the effort to install a commenting system. The two extensions I mentioned in this post are great and offer a lot of functionality, but they may be more than you need (and sometimes they require some styling). Another nice comment plugin for Joomla is DISQUS Comments (http://goo.gl/ffjAa), and it’s easier to install and configure.

      I’d try giving that one a shot. Best of luck and thanks for the comment!

      Gere

    • Mark says:

      Hello Julz,

      Sorry to hear about your experience with Joomla! I would strongly encourage you to give other components or even Joomla’s content itself a try as LyftenBloggie is actually no longer being updated. The last time that it has been updated was ages ago and I believe it wasn’t compatible with Joomla 2.5 as well.

      You could try out other components, be it free or paid one from http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions/authoring-a-content/blog . Don’t let the rotten apple give you a bad impression about Joomla! :)

  4. Never used Joomla, but as you said that we should give it a chance because It too has some marketing and blogging benefits that we bloggers are unfamiliar of.

    Thanks for sharing some of the useful extensions.

  5. Rahul says:

    its great post first time i listen that blogging with joomla very beneficial for us i will also try thanks for sharing..

  6. pavan says:

    Thanks a lot for this useful information Gere.

    Ulinke others I felt that Joomla is much more easier than wordpress. Particularly in using and customizing templates/themes, Joomla is more flexible and advanced than wordpress (Just my opinion). Extensions-Components, Plugins, Modules, Templates a perfect way of organizing the content, functionality and presentation of the site (best divide and conquer strategy).

    To those guys who are willing to give a shot at Joomla, I would say its definetly worth every bit of it…..In the beginning you may feel a little difficulty but when you get used to it you will be overwhelmed with the huge stack of features and flexibility it has to offer.

    Don’t think Joomla just like a CMS it has more to offer, try Joomla Platform as well (If you are a programmer).

  7. David says:

    Nice Post, For Blogging purpose word-press will be a good choice, but the new Joomla 3.0 is awesome, I like the Back-end interface & some new features, which they have been added.