What is a content management system (CMS)?

A content management system is software that keeps track of every piece of content on your Web site, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A CMS is used to administer (create, copy, move, delete, and archive) the content on your Web site. A major advantage of using a CMS is that it requires limited technical skill to manage; however, basic HTML knowledge is strongly encouraged. Another advantage of a CMS is that the CMS will take care of the look and feel and layout on the site, and the user can focus on providing the content and navigation for their website.

What is Joomla?

Joomla is an excellent example of a content management system that enables you to make and update Web pages easily. Many aspects, including its ease of use and the ability to add to its capabilities, have made Joomla very popular software for building Web sites. With Joomla, a template is set up by the developer, and then the owner/administrator can give permission to others who would simply need Internet access to log in and enter content on their own schedule. There are tools built into the administrative side to customize the look and feel of the page, much like you would use in creating a Word document. The administrator can allow others to publish directly or have it approved first.

Photo of control panel
When you first approach Joomla, one of the most important things to understand is how the system itself is organized. In order to help you remember what to do, think of this acronym –C.A.M.

C – First,  you need a Category.
A – Second, create your Article and assign it to the appropriate section and category.
M – Lastly, create a Menu item linking to the article. A module may also be necessary, depending on where you want your menu to appear.

It is straightforward enough to add content using an article, but how do you determine where on the site that content will be displayed? The answer to this question is menus.  The entire Joomla system is organized around menus. Nearly every piece of content on a Joomla site needs to be connected to a menu item entry before it is available to visitors.  Joomla menus define how the user will access the content of a site. The presentation of that menu is controlled in the UAB sites by modules and by the template that has been designed for you.

Modules are the components that make up a page on your site. For example, the top banner, each of the menus, the main content area, the right hand content area, and the footer are all modules. Joomla comes with a number of layouts that combine these modules to create web pages. To create the look of any particular page, you assign some combination of these modules to each menu item. Then, when the user clicks on that menu item, Joomla assembles the resulting page by bringing in each of those modules and displaying them to the user.

Here is an example of the available template positions.


Templates define the overall theme and look for your site. At UAB, the templates are designed by the Web Operations team to ensure a consistent quality and look and feel to UAB websites, as well as incorporating all of the required elements, such as the proper header and footer. When you request a UAB Joomla site, you will choose your template theme from several options that Web Operations has assembled for you.