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Managing the registered users of your website can be a time consuming process, particularly if you have a large number of them, all of whom have various roles. Each role or user profile has access to certain information or tasks (if they're administrative) within the scope of your website. You have the tools to determine the extent of their access by using the backend interface modules. To explain, we'll use the Party People website to show you how to stay on top of managing your users and their profiles.
In this article by Tracey Porst on User Management, we will look at the User Manager to deal with the scenarios that can, and inevitably will, arise in your role as content editor and web master. These include:
- Managing existing frontend and administrative users
- Establishing and editing new user accounts
- Managing username and password issues
- Dealing with problematic users
- Tying in user profiles with site contacts
- Communicating with users
The big picture: Who are users?
Users are people who have registered their details with you and are allocated access to certain resources and information, depending on their role within the scope of your website. They can be administrators and content editors/contributors or customers who purchase goods and services from you.
This is different to a casual visitor who lands up at the frontend of your site because he/she has your website address or hopefully has found you through a search engine. You may be able to turn these casual visitors into registered users if you have something to offer them. Say you want to provide special content to only those who are genuinely interested in your services or products. Encouraging them to register allows you to collect contact information (it's best to ask only for the most relevant details, as people generally don't want to give out more than they need to) and keep in touch. Hopefully, you can convert it into an ongoing relationship with sales and benefits for your business. Generating interest in your products and services is important here and suggesting some level of exclusivity can make your customers feel privileged in terms of being privy to information not readily available to just anyone.
Put simply though, users are your website visitors, content contributors, and administrators. Depending on their role, they are essentially divided into two broad groups with smaller sub-categories within them.
Frontend users do not have access to the administration interface and can only access material and information through the frontend. They can be:
- Registered users, authors, editors, and publishers who have privileges to edit and update information.
- Guests or casual visitors to your site. These visitors come to your site anonymously and unregistered.
- People who register their details in order to transact with you.
Frontend user definitions
When a user is registered with you, they are allocated to a group, as per the settings applied within the Global Configuration.
They can be any one of the following:
- Registered Users are visitors to your site who have registered themselves in order to view certain content or transact with you.
- Authors can submit new content articles to the site with approval, but can't edit existing articles. A publisher or someone higher must approve these submissions.
- Editors can submit and edit new content articles. A publisher or someone higher must also approve these entries.
- Publishers can submit new content articles, edit existing articles, and publish the articles.
None of these user groups have access to the administration interface, and can only edit or add material from the frontend.
Administration users can edit and update the content of your site by logging into the administration control panel and are those who:
- Have Administrator Manager or Super Administrator access. Each of these roles has specific access. For example, the Manager profile does not have access to the User Manager section.
- Have various levels of access within the administration control panel, the highest level being Super Administrator.
Editing the frontend Login Form
From the frontend of your website, the Login Form allows users to access content that is potentially specialized and only visible to them, or to transact with you if you're running an e-commerce site. You can also customize your Login Form by adding text and a link to create new accounts.
Lost usernames and passwords
The Forgot your password and Forgot your username links are important not only for users to fi nd their password or username again, but also to help you to manage users. Rather than unnecessarily creating a new account if they have lost their login details, having an e-mail prompt sent to reset their details is a more efficient approach.
Clicking the link for either will generate a request to enter an e-mail address. A confi rmation e-mail will be sent with a verification token or string of characters which allows the user to enter and reset their password. Alternatively, their username will be emailed to them.
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Allowing new account registrations
As seen in the previous screenshot, the Party People website currently allows only existing users to login, with no option for new users to register. We'll reset the parameters of the Login module to add some text and allow new customers to create an account and login.
To do this, we shall execute the following steps:
- Navigate to the Global Configuration panel through the Site | Global Configuration in the top menu. You can also click the Global Configuration icon on the administration home page.
- As shown in the following screenshot, select the System tab. Don't worry about the Site and Server tabs at this point, as they don't need to be edited in order to allow new registrations.
- Click Yes for Allow User Registration. This adds the Create an account link to the frontend Login Form. If you change your mind, click No, so that only previously registered users can log in.
- Open New User Registration Type. Allocate these new users as Registered for New User Registration Type, as we are not allocating administrative rights (if we do, then you would be able to set it to Authors, Editors, or Publishers).
- Click Yes for New User Account Activation to send an e-mail to the new user requesting them to activate their registration before gaining access. This helps with malicious and unnecessary registrations.
- Click Hide or Show for the Front-end User Parameters, which provide options for the new user to set their preferred settings when they log in.
- Click Save.
Adding custom text to the Login Form
We can add customized text to the top and bottom sections of the Login Form box using the Modules menu.
- Go to Extensions | Module Manager through the top menu.
- Click the Login Form under the Module Name column to open its screen. If you have called it something else, then select that name. The Details and Menu Assignment sections (as shown in the following screenshot) contain the settings, positioning, and details of the actual login form.
- Go to the Parameters section to the right of screen, as shown in the following screenshot, and add your text in the Pre-text and Post-text input boxes.
- Click Save and your new text is added to the form, as shown in the following screenshot:
Change these settings if you need to; otherwise, they can be left as they are.
Pre-text is the text that is displayed before the Username and Post-text is displayed at the end. For example, enter Login if you are already a Customer, or create a new account and order online with us in the Pre-text field and Thank You! in the Post-text field. If you're just adding the text to the form, leave the rest of the settings, such as the Login Redirection Page as it is. This will be addressed in the following section.
This adds a personalized touch to your form or you can use the space for some concise instructions or information.
Directing registered users to a certain section of the site
Within the Login module screen, you can also set where you want logged-in users to land after they enter their username and password and where they go after logging out. This can be a very useful tool and you can create a custom section or article for them to land up on to communicate with your users.
While you are still in the Login Form module:
- Click Login Redirection Page in the Parameters section.
- Click on the area you want your users to land on when they have successfully logged in.
- Click Logout Redirection Page in the Parameters section.
- Click on the area you want your users to land on when they have successfully logged out.
- Decide whether to show or hide a short greeting.
- Click Save for your changes to take effect.
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About the Author :
Tracey Porst is a freelance web developer and tertiary-level visual and interactive design teacher in Brisbane, Australia. Using the powerful Joomla! Content management system for the past few years has contributed to Tracey successfully managing a busy freelance practice that has delivered a range of functional and engaging web sites to her clients.
With several years experience in establishing and refining digital identities for a diverse range of businesses, Tracey's practice includes designing logos, corporate stationery, web site design and development, multimedia presentations, and other graphic artwork such as banners and advertising material.
Tracey's clients are happy to find a new media developer who can communicate the technical and strategic process of launching an online identity to them in relative terms, rather than being bedazzled by the jargon often associated with digital and online media.
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