Joomla 1.6 Template Styles and Microsites
A new feature in Joomla 1.6 is ‘Template Styles‘. Joomla.org describes this new features as: “On occasion, you want a slightly different look to one page or a handful of pages on the site. Previously, this might mean coding a completely different template. Now, with template styles, you can easily create minor template variations, which can then be assigned to specific pages on the website.“. What has stricken me is that I can’t find a single article explaining how useful these template styles are when creating a popular phenomenon on the internet: microsites.
What are microsites?
They can be described as individual pages (or a cluster of pages) that usually are related to – but also separate from – a main parent website. Microsites are usually utilized for creating a specific landing page for an event (such as a holiday or a product release) or to add editorial information to an otherwise commercially oriented website. Microsites are also particularly interesting in combination with PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising, as they can be designed to match the displayed ads and optimized for the targeted keywords.
Microsites in Joomla 1.5
If you want to create a microsite using Joomla 1.5, you’d have to copy the entire folder that contains the template using FTP or the command line. This is both a complicated and error prone activity. After copying these files you could change several parameters of the template and link them to the desired pages in your menu. Also, if you’re using a template that doesn’t offer you custom menu selection, it was virtually impossible to display a separate ‘microsite menu’ on your website without your parent website’s menu being shown.
Meet Joomla 1.6 Template Styles
With the new template styles feature of Joomla! 1.6, you can save the settings of one template multiple times, storing the settings under a different name. A short video (1:03 minutes) made by Andrew Eddie shows how to do this. By using template styles in Joomla 1.6, you no longer have to copy any files or edit any line of code to create a microsite. All it takes is a few clicks in the Joomla! Administrator and you’re good to go! By using a template (or template framework) that offers custom menu selection (like our Joomla 1.6 templates do), you can show a different menu (that you could name something like ‘Microsite menu’ only on the microsites, without your main website’s navigation getting in the way). By changing the parameters of the microsite template (for example by choosing a different preset style or changing several different styling settings if the template allows you to do this), you can create a microsite that shares the primary visual characteristics of your parent website, while still having its own characteristic looks.