Joomla! Definitions

Goal / Scope

The goal of this article is to define some of the key terms and concepts used in Joomla! websites.


After being pushed into working with Joomla! for clients, I had to get some of the terms and concepts straight to be able to effectively help my clients.  I put this together as a reference and it also helped me understand and define the terms and concepts as I created it.


Article – An Article is a piece of content consisting of text (HTML), possibly with links to other resources (for example, images, sound clips, or videos). Articles are the basic units of information in the content system and the bottom level in the content hierarchy. Since Joomla! 2.5, each Article is in exactly one Category. A Category can be in another Category making it a sub Category. It is also possible to have Uncategorized Articles. These articles exist without being associated with any Category.

Category – Every part of Joomla! powered web site or any CMS type of web site needs a method to display and store its content logically.  The usual method is by categories and subcategories.  Joomla! allows for multiple ways to display and use content controlled by categorization.  Some of the content types which have categorization are articles (Main content of web pages), banners, contacts and web links.

Uncategorized is the default category and it is assigned to any and all content types by default.  The uncategorized category is not descriptive and should be used only as needed for content types which do not fall under a specific category.

When creating and assigning categories, you should have a planned structure. As an example, this is one way of how you would categorize several Joomla! articles on birds. Create two article categories called “Animals” and “Plants”. Under the “Animals” category, you might have sub categories called “Birds” and “Mammals”. Under the “Birds” category, you might have 3 articles named “Hawks,” “Parrots” and “Sparrows”.

Categories provide general “structure” of the content displayed on the website.  For example, for a Family Law based law firm, these could be the areas of practice, or other general topics.  These should not be as specific as the articles they are associated with as stated above.

Menu – A Menu is a set of menu items used for website navigation or simply “links”.  Each menu item defines an URL to a page on your site, and settings that control the content (articles, categories, tagged items, etc.) and style (module(s), layout) of that page.  Additionally, each menu has a Menu Type, these are shown in the menu manager.  The menu type will actually be the Unique Name or alias that will be used to create human-readable URLs if Search Engine Friendly URLs are turned on.

Module – help define the look, layout, etc. of the website.  Modules are lightweight and flexible extensions used for page rendering.  These modules are often “boxes” arranged around a component on a typical page.  A well-known example is the login module.  Modules are assigned per menu item, so you can decide to show or hide (for example) the login module depending on which page (menu item) the user is currently on.  Some modules are linked to components: the “latest news” module, for example, links to the content component (com_content) and displays links to the newest content items.  However, modules do not need to be linked to components; they don’t even need to be linked to anything and can be just static HTML or text.


Joomla! Glossary