Customizing Joomla Templates

So, you’ve purchased, downloaded or built a Joomla template and now you want to customize it? What customizations should you make, which modifications are easy, which are difficult? Every template and template framework out there will have different unique characteristics that might make some of the customizations outlined below either simpler or more difficult.

Why customize Joomla templates?

The main purpose to customize a template will be to make it match your own corporate identity. The template you’ve purchased or downloaded will most likely have a pretty generic look, with a pre-picked color palette that most likely will not match your corporate identity well. By making changes to the template, you can make it match the style of your organisation better, and make sure people will associate your website with your brand.

What if you don’t have a corporate identity or logo?

Some companies don’t have corporate identities or even a logo. While this can be a legit business decision, I challenge you to name me one highly successful company that doesn’t have a professional logo. Your lack of an unique will immediately take away some of the trustworthiness of your website. However, many Joomla templates come packaged with several logos and preset colors styles that you can use instead of your own unique style.

Making specific modifications

Changing the logo

One modification that almost everyone will make after they’ve bought or downloaded a Joomla template is changing the logo (assuming they have one of course). The most common way to add a logo is to create a new Custom HTML module in the Module Manager, upload your logo, display the logo in the module and set the module to the position ‘logo’. Some templates (such as ours) allow you to upload a logo via the Template Manager in the Joomla Administrator and set it as your custom logo as well.

Changing colors

Most Joomla templates these days (especially the ones built by professionals) will come with several preset color styles, and include options that allow you to change the presets to your own, using custom colors. Do keep in mind that creating a balanced color palette for your website isn’t easy. Just like it’s difficult to balance the colors used in your house or garden, balancing the color scheme of a website is difficult as well. If there isn’t a corporate identity guide that you can follow regarding the colors that you should use on the website, I advise you to use a pre-selected color scheme from Adobe Kuler. You can select the theme that you want to use, and pick out your favorite color palette based on that theme afterwards.

Changing the layout

Most of the content that is found in the template is handled by modules. By viewing the Template Position Preview (add ?tp=1 to your URL, after having enabled it in Template Manager) you can see which module positions are available in the template that you’re currently using. If you’re not using a Quick Installer, using this Template Position Preview can help you decide which modules to place in which position in order to change the layout to your desire. While many people are stacking modules in their ‘left’ and ‘right’ module positions, the same trick can be applied to other module position as well. For example, if you add two modules to the ‘bottom1’ module position, they will appear above each other in the website.

Making custom CSS changes

Some template providers allow you to override the default CSS styling. Often this is done by adding a custom.css file to the CSS folder of the template, or by renaming a _custom.css file to custom.css. When you add your own CSS styles to this file, they will be loaded last therefore enabling you to override existing CSS or add new styles.

Adding photos

High quality photos can make or break the look of your website. If your Joomla default doesn’t include pictures, you should definitely add them yourself. There are plenty of website available that allow you to use their photos on your website for free (often in exchange for an attribution to the photographer) or you might consider using stock photography if you want to take your pictures to the next level.

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