How to Make a Free Membership Website

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As common as free membership websites are these days, the platforms which are used for these sites vary greatly in quality and features. One of the best platforms to use for free membership websites is the Joomla content management system. Joomla is a free open source platform that includes a built-in membership component that can be easily utilized. Built to run on PHP and a MySQL database, a Joomla-powered membership website can be created and maintained with minimal investment. This article assumes that you have already acquired web hosting services that fully support the Joomla content management system.

Things You'll Need

  • Web hosting services
  • Download the .zip file containing the latest version of the Joomla content management system to your hard drive. Extract the zip file to a place on your hard drive that is easily accessible by your favorite FTP client.

  • Start your FTP client and connect it to the root directory of your website. Once logged in, transfer the Joomla files to the root directory of your website. Keep in mind that it will likely take a few minutes to transfer all these files. Once all the directories and files have transferred, you are ready to begin the installation of your Joomla website.

  • Open a browser and navigate to your website's URL followed by "/installation" (www.yourwebsite.com/installation). This should bring up the first page of the Joomla installer and ask you which language you would like to set for your installation. Select the appropriate language and click "Next."

  • Ensure that your web hosting meets the system requirements by confirming that the pre-installation checklist has been met satisfactorily. Click "Next."

  • Review and agree to the GN General Public License (GNU GPL ). Click "Next."

  • Supply your database configuration information, including host name, user name, password and database name. If you have not created these items, do so now via your host's MySQL administration panel. Keep in mind that often times web hosts add prefixes to both user names and database names. For example, if you create a database named "joomla" on a fake web host named "acme," the web host will likely apply a prefix such as "acme_joomla" to the database name. Also, keep in mind that after you create the user, you will need to assign that user full privileges to the database you just created. Once these fields are filled out appropriately, click "Next."

  • Select the appropriate FTP options that will meet your needs and click "Next."

  • Give your website a name and enter pertinent information. Based upon your level of experience, you can install the sample data or not. For beginners, sample data is useful to get the feel of the Joomla system. To install the sample data, select the radio button and click "Install Sample Data." Once the sample data is installed, click "Next."

  • Remove the installation directory. This is a security feature of Joomla and you will not be able to proceed until the installation directory has been removed.

  • Log in to the administration end of your new website by navigating to your website's URL followed by "/administrator" (www.yourwebsite.com/administrator). Once logged in, navigate to Site > Global Configuration > System and select "Yes" under the subheading "User Settings."

  • Navigate to Extensions > Module Manager and select the "Login Form" hotlink from the list of modules. Ensure that the module is enabled, possesses the "Public" access level and is enabled on the pages you require.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plan ahead by insuring that the web hosting company you select to host your membership site offers Joomla hosting as part of their service package(s).
  • Plan ahead by creating both your MySQL database and the database user that will be used for your website. When creating these credentials, make sure to note the host name, user name and name of the database you create because this information will be used during the Joomla installation (Step 6).

References

  • Photo Credit http image by JulianMay.co.uk from Fotolia.com
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