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How Magento themes are designed

How Magento themes are designed

Magento as well as many other platforms for creating websites has its own features in design and work. Let us review how Magento themes are designed, what they consist of and what terms are used for them.

Magento theme structure

Theme is a general view of an online store, its shell and design. They are also called templates. There are two ways to make your site design unique - create your own theme or purchase it.

Magento themes consist of:

1. Standard XML template files. The principle theme construction depends on these ‘details’;

2. Phtml templates. These files are responsible for how specific parts of the general layout would look like, e.g. ‘My account’ page or a checkout page;

3. Skins or CSS – your store design styles.

The themes can also be distinguished by the following parameters:

1. Standard and custom (non-standard);

2. Multilanguage, regional or designed to work for one country only.

Let us review their differences, and begin with the standard themes. They are classic variants of a Magento store design. The standard or default theme is visible to both customers and administrators. These templates are the most popular because they do not require any programming skills. They have in-built all pages and options that your customers may need and all you have to do is to enable or disable them when necessary.

At the same time, custom themes are very convenient if you need to change the store design occasionally. You can configure the style tables according to your wish, add or remove some options without harming your store functionality, change the pages layout according to the season and many other things. Another key feature of these templates is that you can place there some products which cannot be added to the cart by customers, e.g. those out of stock or coming soon.

Magento themes even have their own hierarchy. Remember that a custom theme will always be higher than a standard one.

As we have mentioned above, each theme has skins – this is what you see in a web store. They indicate the font and its color, presence of some blocks and options, theme shell, background images, product images and many others. Beside that in some themes skins may include JavaScript files. Thanks to such variety of skins you can even modify a standard theme to look unusual and more convenient from the point of view of usability - you will only need to work on it in the editor.

Layouts are the most complicated files in Magento themes. They are written in XML which makes them highly flexible when you need to add new functions and styles or remove those unnecessary. Particularly, you can:

1. Forbid using JavaScript on some web store pages;

2. Add some CSS templates;

3. Fully remove certain blocks to free some space for others. For example, if you have a three-column theme you can make it two-column after several manipulations.

But when you edit separate blocks remember that there are two types of them in Magento:

1. Content blocks which are fully dependable on Magento theme, they can include product descriptions, images and reviews;

2. Structural blocks are parts of the page. Header, sidebar and other page zones are in those blocks.

In many cases, you will not need to edit the whole theme since you can modify some design or functionality of your store using Magento extensions developed by GoMage. But if you do edit your theme, remember about possible consequences. If you choose to modify your Magento theme and do not have enough programming skills, the best decision would be consult with the specialists or use their help for that work.

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