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Setting up categories to place articles, images and menu items in is important in order to avoid having your website turn into a mess over time. While categories can be added later, attempting to change the location of articles and images will likely result in broken links. This is why setting up your categories should be done before writing articles and adding images. But before we describe the steps for creating new categories, we will begin with a brief overview of the entire process of creating articles and web pages with Joomla.

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.


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Step One: Create your Website Table of Contents using Categories

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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

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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.


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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


This is how the above plan was translated into the main menu of our website:

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Step 2: Create Category Folders for Articles on your home computer

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Once we have our Table of Contents planned out on paper, we are ready to turn it into category folders on our home computer. We will first use our categories to create folders for articles and images on our home computer. We will then use those same categories to create folders for our articles and images with our website’s Category Manager and Media Manager. Below is what the folder structure will look like on your Home computer.

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We will create an identical folder structure on for the articles and images on our website administrator control panel using the Joomla Category Manager and Joomla Media Manager:

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What your Folder Structure will look like when you are done
First, we create categories as folders on our home computer to store our articles in. To create your folders, click on your File Manager to open it. Then right click and select new folder. The new folder will look like this.

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Right click on the folder and select Rename. Then change its name to the name of your website.

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The top folder with the name of your website is called the root folder or the root directory. It is best to get in the habit of naming your website folders with lower case letters and no spaces. Click on this new folder to open it. Then right click on New Folder again to create a folder for your articles inside of your root folder.

Create two more folders for website images and extensions. The following is the folder structure you should have on your home computer for every website you make:

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We will use the extensions folder to keep all of our add on extensions. The other two folders, articles and images will be used to organize our website content on our home computer:

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The first folder is called articles and should contain all of the articles which will eventually be posted in your article manager. These articles should be assigned to category folders just as articles on your website are assigned to categories. Click on your articles folder to open it. Then right click and create a new folder for each of your website categories. When you are done, the inside of your articles folder should look something like this:

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The articles folders do not need to be lower case. This is because the Joomla Category Manager allows for folder names to have capital letters and spaces. This is also a good way to tell your Articles folders from your images folders (which have the same names).

Note that there is an extra category for articles such, as the Welcome article, which only appears on the Front Page. On the server, you would put these articles into a folder called frontpage or you could leave them as Uncategorized. In other words, the 00frontpage folder on your HOME computer equals the Uncategorized folder in the backend of your website. The key thing to understand is that the category folders on your HOME computer should match the categories in the Joomla Category Manager.

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Should match this:

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There will eventually be four articles inside of each of these articles folders. But as we will explain further below, there are always two versions of each article, the original version with images and a web version in which the images have been removed. These articles are also numbered to keep them in the right order. Below are the 2 articles in the 01 Start Here articles folder.

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Note that there are TWO versions of each article. The first is the actual article as created in a document with the images in the articles. Because only TEXT can be entered with your website’s text editor, images cannot be transferred directly into your web articles. It is therefore essential that you create a second text only article with the images removed and replaced by placeholder text indicated which images go where in the article. We will review how this is done in a later article. The images for the WEB version of each article are copied into folders created for each article and placed in the images folder as shown below.

Step 3: Create Category folders for your images on your home computer

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In addition to using our categories to create folders to place articles on our home computer, it is also wise to create identical category folders for the images on our home computer. Opening up the images folder reveals the same category folder structure used for articles. Note that these folders are in lower case letters:

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The images folder category names are the same as the article category names on our home computer:

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Then if you open up any of these image category folders, you will see another folder for all of the articles in that category. These folders will be used to hold the images which will later be transferred to the images folder on your server.

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The folder names are short as these will eventually be used as part of the file pathway for our images on the server and we do not want long names in the file pathways. We know they are images folders because their folder names are lower case with no spaces. Each article gets its own images folder. If you have three articles in a given category, you should have three images folders for that same category:

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When you open up any of the images folders, you will see all of the images that were removed from the WEB version of the article. This images are listed in numerical order to help re-insert them in the proper order AFTER the WEB or TEXT ONLY version of the article has been copied and pasted into the article by your text editor.

Here are the first three images from our Welcome article:

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These images are also numbered to keep them in the right order. There were 26 images with this article. It is important to use a lot of images on your webpage as images often convey more information to readers than text. You can imagine that if you have 40 web pages and 20 images per page, it is extremely important to keep these 800 images organized on your home computer and on your Internet website backend. We will soon set up this same image folder structure in the Joomla Media Manager.

Step 4: Create identical category folders with the Joomla Category Manager
The process of building your website begins with the creation of new categories. If you did not install sample data, then when you go to Content, Category Manager, there will only be one category, called Uncategorized:


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To build your website, first you create categories, then place articles inside of categories. We will now build the category structure for the Create Your Own Interactive Website dot com website:

Website: Create Your Own Interactive Website (10 categories)
Category 1 Start Here
Category 2 Set Up
Category 3 Security
Category 4 Appearance
Category
5 Create Web Pages
Category
6 Menus and Links
Category 7 Custom Modules
Category 8 Slideshows & Videos
Category 9 Design Forms
Category 10 Site Management


From the Category Manager, click on NEW to bring up the Add New Articles Category screen:

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Give each category a title and a brief description such as “This category includes all four articles in the Start Here chapter.” (Joomla will create an ALIAS so you do not need to fill in the Alias box). It is okay to use capitals and spaces. Then click SAVE and NEW. This will bring up a second New Category screen. Give this category a Title and Description and click SAVE and NEW.

Repeat until all ten categories are done. Then click SAVE and CLOSE. When you are done, the ten new categories will look like the following:

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The numbers in front of the names help keep the categories and articles organized. Creating all 10 categories takes only a couple of minutes.

Step 5: Set Up the SAME Category and Article folders in your website Media Manager

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We will next create an identical images structure in the images folder on our server root folder. Log into your Joomla Administrator Control Panel. Then click on Content, Media Manager. Below is the current structure after deleting all of the default content images folders and adding the categories folders, and after clicking on Detail View, the media manager side menu will look like the following.

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We have a folder with our Home page slideshow images, another for our Home page Welcome article and another for the four articles in our first chapter/category, Start Here. We have already put our images in these folders. We will now create a new folder for our second chapter/category. Click Create New Folder. Then type in the name of the folder using lower case letters and numbers with no spaces.

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Then click Create Folder. Repeat this process for all of your images category folders and article image folders. Here is what our website images folder structure looks like after creating folders for all ten categories.


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There should be four article image folders inside of every category image folder because there will be four articles in every article category. Each time you write a new article, or add a new web page, you should create a folder for the images in that new article in both your home computer’s images folder and also your website’s images folder. Now that we have our category folders made, we are ready to create our first web page. That is the subject of the next article.