What Joomla! and Bonsai Trees Have In Common
First off: no, I'm not a bonsai expert. In fact, it takes me a lot of effort to keep the one bonsai tree in my house (which was a gift) alive. Why I'm writing this article about the similarities between bonsai trees and Joomla! then?
Because Wikipedia states that: "Bonsai cultivation and care requires techniques and tools that are specialized to support the growth and long-term maintenance of trees in small containers." I think the following statement is at least as true: "Joomla! website cultivation and care requires techniques and tools that are specialized to support the growth and long-term maintenance of websites on the Internet." Let's discuss some of the similarities, and what you can learn from them to keep your Joomla! website in top shape!
Bonsai trees perform at their best in a suitable environment
... and Joomla! websites need a good web host for optimal performance. Considering Joomla! is compatible with PHP 5.3 since version 1.5.15, I'd suggest you find a host offering you that version of PHP (and my personal preference is to have it hosted on a Linux rather than a Windows server). A suitable host should also have installed mod_suphp to enable you to prevent file ownerships problem if you want to and mod_rewrite to enable SEF urls. As a side note: the technical requirements states that Joomla! 1.6 will require PHP 5.2+ and MySQL 5.0.4, so if you plan on switching to Joomla! 1.6 once it has been released, you'll need an up-to-date host anyway.
Bonsai trees require constant attention and care to stay in top condition
... and so does your Joomla! website. Just like you need to make sure your bonsai tree is watered and trimmed regularly, so should you take regular care of your Joomla! website. When was the last time you performed the actions below? I dare to bet there is at least one item on the list you haven't done in the past year!
- Check if there were any obsolete modules or plugins still being loaded on your website, causing it to slow down?
- Do a search on Google to see if your title tags and meta descriptions are the way you'd like them to be?
- Review the latest SEO ranking factors to see if your website is still up-to-date in terms of SEO?
- Combine CSS and/or JS files to reduce the number of HTTP requests and speed up your website considerably?
- Update all your websites to the latest version of Joomla?
- Do usability testing on your website to ensure any (user interface) changes you made are still clear to your visitors?
- Analyze your visitors statistics to determine any possible problems / opportunities for your website?
- Review the Vulnerable Extensions List in search of vulnerable extensions you might be running?
- Check your website on the most recent version of all popular browsers (Internet Explorer 7 & 8, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Google Chrome) to look for compatibility problems?
Do you know other tips to keep your Joomla! website in optimal shape? Please share them in the comments!