A module is an essential part of any Xoops website. After a first installation of Xoops, many users look at their home page and feel a little upset. "Is that it ...? a boring page with little on it except a login box and a banner. Don't be disappointed, this is a purposeful move so that each user can choose how to build their own website and design the structure content and style to their own preferences.
In fact all Xoops sites are installed with one essential and sophisticated module, the System module. What looks very empty on the outside hides an internal core of powerful features just waiting to be unleased. Now this is where your own preferences for the site can begin.
Modules form the structure of the site, but they display the content. So, when installing modules, it's a good idea to have some basic plan about what your website will be like. Modules are usually built to work in conjunction with the Xoops system module and other core functions. From a developers point of view this is a great feature as they can literally 'tap in' to the core features and extend them into their own module functions. Xoops uses Smarty templating that provides easy and flexible links to system functions.
For general users there are other benefits. For example a fully featured Xoops module can inherit all of the visual style of the website and therefore look completely integrated with the other site pages. It can also inherit other global functions and features such as access for selected groups, selected permissions for posting and viewing, comments system, user details display, logging activity and many other integrative features. These are all tied together seamlessly so that your Xoops website looks and functions as one fully inter-related unit that is easy to manage for each module from the website's system administration pages.
So, back to plan... what does a module look like and which modules to use? As discussed in another question "What does a module look like?" it's a good idea to spend some time viewing Xoops websites across the web, just to see what the scope and style of modules exist. A good place to start is the links section on https://xoops.org
as many of these sites will be Xoops sites built by users or professional developers.
Just to start you off, modules cover a full range of content processing, including article management, news posting, news listing, reviews, e-commerce, book lists and displays, photographic and image displays, albums, time management, helpdesk, weather displays, banner management, advertising, directories, dictionaries, and many many more subjects. For a more comprehensive range of options take a look at the Xoops.org Modules repository to see all the categories and possibilities. To see how these work before you even go throught he steps of download and installation have a pplay with them at the Module Testing site
This site gives you the opportunity to see how modules work and you can get an idea of how they might suit you.
See also this FAQ
on choosing modules.
This set of tutorials
on module deployment is extremely useful for beginners.