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Latest Magento Headlines, GoMage Updates and eCommerce Best Practices

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  • Events and observers: principle of work

    Events and observers: principle of work

    Today we will review such method of modification of basic Magento functionality as “design pattern”. This method is considered as a standard one and it is necessary to understand it in order to work with the system successfully.

    The principle is based on creation of a module using so called ‘event’ and ‘observer’ files. The ‘event’ suggests an action which leads to modifications in the store, e.g. when a user presses ‘Checkout’ button. ‘Observer’ monitors the changes and then passes them to the system to make it perform specific actions in a certain order.

    In order to create a file Observer.php it is necessary to go to /app/code/local/Pfay/Test/Model/ and insert the following code:

    <?php
    class Pfay_Test_Model_Observer extends Varien_Event_Observer
    {
       public function __construct()
       {
       }
       public function saveCmsPageObserve($observer)
       {
             $event = $observer->getEvent();
             $model = $event->getPage();
         print_r($model->getData());
             die('test');
     }
    }
    ?>
    

     

    This observer is created with ‘SaveCmsPageObserve’ function due to which the events will be fixed after a CMS page is saved on Magento backend.

    As you can see, this file will monitor the events using ‘getEvent’ method that will send all the modified parameters automatically.

    In order to make the observer work properly, it is necessary to inform the system about its existence. Go to /app/code/local/Pfay/Test/etc/config.xml and edit the file config.xml. Add the following code:

    <strong><events>
       <cms_page_prepare_save>
        <observers>
           <Pfay_Example_Model_Observer>
               <type>singleton</type>
               <class>example/observer</class>
               <method> saveCmsPageObserve</method>
               </ Pfay_Example_Model_Observer>
           </observers>
      </cms_page_prepare_save>
    </events>
    </strong>
    

     

    The part of code <strong> <cms_page_prepare_save> </strong> represents a controlled event in this example. In order to launch saveCmsPageObserve, the observer should wait for the action cms_page_prepare_save to start.

    The process of completing the task in Observer is controlled by dispatchEvent which generates events. It is located in \core\Mage\Adminhtml\controllers\Cms\PageController.php and should look like this:

    Mage::dispatchEvent('cms_page_prepare_save', array('page' => $model, 'request' => $this->getRequest()));

    It is possible to create separate files ‘Event’ and ‘Observer’ for each group of actions or processes in Magento. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact our experts, they will be glad to assist you.

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  • Magento 2 – coming soon

    Magento 2 – coming soon

    Web marketing manager Owen Radford who is specialized in Magento and Wordpress sites has recently announced soon release of Magento 2. Besides, he has announced a preliminary plan of beta-versions launch.

    According to Owen Radford, the first rumors about a new engine were heard back in 2010 and this topic was discussed during 2011, but the development was moving forward slowly. At last, it is time to present Magento 2 to the system users. This is going to happen in the end of 2015. This December, Magento development team began testing of the beta-version.

    Image from: business2community.com

    The following stages are still to be performed:

    • Q1 – testing of the candidate release by the developers for the end users;
    • Q3 – presentation of beta-version to the end users;
    • Q4 – launch of complete new engine version and mass release.

    What’s new should the users expect from Magento 2? It will include update of the technological possibilities, optimization and simplification of installation, configuration and update processes, simplification of Magento integration, higher capabilities and scalability.

    “Now we work with the up-to-date technologies only: HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery. One of mischievous commentators called creation of new Magento 2 ‘no more that its rewrite on JQuery’, however this is absolutely not true. In any case, the efforts taken to update and optimize the system are also very important”, Owen says.

    Closer to the release date the other changes and new features will be announced. The developers indicate that it will be difficult for Magento 2 to compete with well-known and long used Magento 1.x, but they still hope for success.

    Switching to Magento 2 will be done gradually. The new version is not yet available for mass usage. First, the developers plan to implement it through the upgrade process from the older versions, but the possibility of backup will be preserved.

    As soon as any new information about Magento 2 is available, you will see it in our blog. Watch our updates and do not forget to share them with your friends!

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  • Comparison of products

    Comparison of products

    A possibility of comparing products is one of the important functions in online stores. This option is frequently used by marketing specialists as a tool of attracting and keeping customers on the site. What is good in Magento is that most of the necessary optimization features are built in the basic system package. It is important to know about them and learn how to use them. Today Magento experts will show you how to choose the options by which the products can be compared.

    Comparison menu can be configured for any products - the main condition is that they have at least one coincident attribute. Actually, customers may even compare a vacuum cleaner, a skirt and a chair, if those items have the same color. That is why it is reasonable to create more extensive filters for products comparison. This will increase the level of comfort on your site and will help customers develop their experience of buying products online.

    In the process of adding a new product you can control which attributes are chosen for comparison. Each option has a field for “Frontend comparison”. Set it to ‘Yes’ if you wish that option to be used for comparing this specific product with other ones.

    In order to modify that option for previously added products you should go to Catalog – Properties – Manage properties and select the option you wish to edit. In order to see a full list of options available for comparison it is necessary to choose ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for the field ‘Products comparison’ in the last column. Click on the attribute in order to modify it. Choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the drop-down list for ‘Frontend comparison’. As soon as all actions have been done, save the changes.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact GoMage experts directly. You can find a lot of interesting information in our blog, please share the most useful articles with your friends and colleagues.

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  • How to use related/up-sell/cross-sell products for increasing sales

    How to use related/up-sell/cross-sell products for increasing sales

    In order to enhance the goods turnover, increase the volume of visits and the level of sales Magento developers have created a lot of various plug-ins and modules, some of which are even included into the base Magento package. Now, we will review how to make customers interested in products similar to those they are ordering, but at higher price. Such products are usually called ‘related’.

    The purpose of displaying related products is offering customers to buy something along with the products they review. These products are displayed in the top right corner of the page. Each product has a checkbox that a customer can check in case they wish to buy that product. In this case, it is not necessary to go to the related product page and add it to the cart separately:

    Related products

    Configurable and bundle products which can also be offered by the store do not have the checkboxes. A customer will need to go to the product page, select the necessary options (color, size, etc.) and then add the product to the cart. More expensive analogues of the product being viewed by a potential customer are offered with the purpose to persuade the customer to buy them instead. Those products are usually of better quality, higher price or of more popular brands, they are also called ‘Up-sell products’. Such products are displayed in the block called “You may also be interested in the following product(s)”. The block also contains “Additional Information” section which displays the price of the alternative products and links to their pages.

    Upsell products

    Another group of additional products is not related to the items being viewed by a customer and functions as an ‘impulse buy’. In usual stores this place is taken by stands with magazines and chewing gum which a customer can put into basket standing at the cash desk. Specific cross-sell products can be assigned to each product group. If a customer has several items in the cart, cross-sell products will be displayed in random order.

    Crossell products

    In order to assign a related product to a specific product in your store, go to Catalog – Manage products in the admin panel. Select the product which you are going to edit. Click the button ‘Modify’ and go to ‘Up-sell / Cross-sell / Related products’ section on the left side. Choose the necessary products from the drop-down list. In order to review all items you should click ‘Disable filter’.

    When the product is chosen you will see the field for ‘Position’. It determines the sorting order of Up-sell / Cross-sell / Related products in the cart or directly on the product page. Please note that this position is activated for Up-sells only when there is at least one item in the cart. If there are several items, up-sells will be switched randomly.

    Please feel free to contact GoMage development team directly if you have any questions. You may also read about other ways of increasing sales in our blog.

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  • How to create a poll

    How to create a poll

    Polls are used as a powerful marketing tool. They help to determine the level of demand for a specific product category and customers’ feedbacks on specific products. The advantages of polls are that they do not take much space and are highly informative. Magento developers have included this option into the basic Magento package. So, you do not need to install any specific extensions in order to learn users’ opinion about your products.

    In order to enable polls you need to go to System – Configuration – Additional settings and enable the poll module. This option is usually enabled by default. Save the changes and then go to CMS – Poll manager in order to create a new poll.

    Click ‘Add new poll’ button. The question will be visible in the top of the external site interface. When you create a poll it is set to the status ‘Open’ automatically. If you need to remove the poll, set the status to ‘closed’. The multi-select menu will help you to choose on which site pages the poll will be visible.

    Click the button ‘Add new answers’ and you will see the field in which the answer variants should be entered. All users can see how many people voted for each variant. Every new answer should be created using ‘Add new answer’ button.

    There is a small trick for arranging a new poll. If you enable ‘Vote count’ option you will be able to influence the poll results and change them. When a user clicks on the necessary answer the number will increase automatically. You can also view the results in the admin panel.

    Magento functionality allows creation of several polls. In this case, they will be displayed on the site in random order.

    You can read more about SEO tools, marketing solutions and new GoMage Magento extensions in our blog. Please share the most interesting articles with your friends and colleagues, and feel free to contact us directly in case you have any questions.

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  • Customer information

    Customer information

    Magento is a large CMS which offers a lot of various functions. One of the system sections contains maximum available information about each customer. When a user creates an account on their own, the admin panel will display a lot of new options which are not available if a profile is created through the backend.

    The administrator is able to see brief information about a customer: last visit date, online/offline status. If there are several stores in one Magento, this section also shows in which exactly store that account was created.

    The store manager can see shipping and billing addresses specified by a customer (they may be different). All complete and pending orders submitted both by the customer and by the administrator on customer’s behalf are also displayed in that section. Besides, the information about all products in the cart is available, and the administrator has an option to remove a specific product. A click on the order will redirect you to the product page with all information about it.

    In the ‘Newsletters’ section you can check all subscriptions of each specific customer, as well as subscribe or unsubscribe each customer from selected newsletter.

    The section ‘Product reviews’ shows all reviews submitted by each customer. If you click on a review you will be redirected to the corresponding admin panel section.

    The customer information also shows all tags entered by customer. Clicking on any tag will take you to the corresponding admin panel section.

    The tab ‘Customers online’ shows both registered and guest users. Authenticated clients will be displayed under their names and the other customers will be identified by their IP addresses. Those users are usually assigned to ‘Guest’ category. Besides, you can see which URLs they accessed on your site. Clicking on a customer will show you all available information about them.

    You can find more information about Magento and its extensions in our blog. Please feel free to contact us directly or leave your comments, we will be glad to assist if you have any questions.

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  • How to install a new theme over an existing one

    How to install a new theme over an existing one

    Frequently, online store owners wish to optimize and refresh the view and layout of their stores. This usually requires installation of a new Magento theme. In order to simplify this process, you can install a new template without removing the previous one.

    In order to do this, it is necessary to upload the folder “app”, “skin” and “media” of the new template into your active Magento directory. As soon as the folders are present on the server, go to System > Design and choose default folder.

    Then, select your recently uploaded theme on the server. Go to CMS > Pages > Home page > Content in the newly installed template. In this section you will find the code which needs to be copied into the same place of the working template.

    The same actions need to be done in “Design” section. It is necessary to copy the corresponding XML content into the working Magento template.

    It is important that “Layout” settings of the old and new templates should be identical. The last step would be going to CMS > Static blocks and replacing the code of each block with the code of the new theme. However, this should not be done for block “Footer links”.

    After the settings are saved the changes will be applied on the site. If this does not happen at once, flush the cache and try again.

    You can find a lot of interesting articles in our blog. Please share them with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave your comments or contact us directly.

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  • Why we need the Translation tool

    Why we need the Translation tool

    Sometimes there is a necessity to edit the text in some of Magento themes. In order to avoid manual searching for the necessary .csv file you can do this directly in the admin panel.

    Go to System - Cache Management and disable cache for Translations.

    The next step is going to System > Configuration > Developer. In this section it is necessary to activate Translate Inline. Refer to the screenshot below:

    Why we need the Translation tool

    After the changes are saved you will see the blocks available to be edited. They will be highlighted in red. The text in those blocks can be edited directly on the site or through the admin panel.

    It is important that these changes will be saved in the database and will not affect the original .csv files.

    You can find more of the interesting and useful articles in our blog. If you have any questions, please leave your comments or address them directly to Magento development team.

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  • How to setup a Favicon

    How to setup a Favicon

    The frontend view of your website is one of the basic factors which determine the level of sales. The site should not only be convenient, functional and intuitively clear, it should also look attractive. One of the important details is setting up a favicon. Today we will review how to configure a favicon regardless of which Magento theme is used.

    Favicon is an image which is displayed on the site tab in a browser. Traditionally, the image size is 16x16 px of ICO format.

    There are a lot of resources for creation of favicons. One of the most popular is faviconer.com. Following the instructions on the site you can create a unique image that will best match your site topic. After that, you need to download the file "favicon.ico" and then upload it to your server. It should be located in folder skin/frontend/default/your_theme where your_theme is the actual theme ID.

    In order to see the changes on the site it is necessary to flush Magento cache and clean the cache in browser, then check the site.

    Please read other articles regarding Magento websites configuration and optimization in our blog and share the most interesting of them with your friends. Feel free to leave your comments or send your questions directly to our support team.

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  • Five basic methods of Search Engine Optimization

    Five basic methods of Search Engine Optimization

    Five basic methods of Search Engine Optimization

    We have already reviewed various optimizations methods in our blog. In this article, we will discuss 5 basic ways of the site optimization with the help of in-built Magento options:

    1. For the search engines, optimized URLs are those which do not contain /index.php. Magento system configures index.php by default creating URLs like /index.php/category/product. In order to remove index.php from the URL, it is first necessary to go to System – Configuration – Web – Search optimization (SEO) and then enable Web Server Rewrites.

    2. It is also important to configure optimization for SEO-catalogs. This can be done through System – Configuration – Catalog – Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The option “Use category path for product URLs” must be set to ‘No’. There are also two options that need to be enabled in this section: ‘Use canonical URL meta tag for categories’ and ‘Use canonical URL meta tag for products’. Canonical URL shows the search robot where the original page is located. This will help you to avoid creation of duplicate pages if one product uses several filters.

    3. In the section CMS – Pages you need to modify the Title and Description of the main page. The field ‘Meta data’ must contain the necessary key words and the field ‘Description’ must be filled.

    4. It is very important to create correct robots.txt file that will filter the information and only provide the search engine with the information it needs. The following code is an example of a proper robots.txt file. It contains the necessary basic system configurations for Magento, optimization settings and server settings. Due to this code, no unnecessary information will be revealed:

    ## robots.txt for Magento Community and Enterprise
    1.	  
    2.	## GENERAL SETTINGS
    3.	  
    4.	## Enable robots.txt rules for all crawlers
    5.	User-agent: *
    6.	  
    7.	## Crawl-delay parameter: number of seconds to wait between successive requests to
     the same server.
    8.	## Set a custom crawl rate if you're experiencing traffic problems with your server.
    9.	# Crawl-delay: 30
    10.	  
    11.	## Magento sitemap: uncomment and replace the URL to your Magento sitemap file
    12.	# Sitemap: http://www.example.com/sitemap/sitemap.xml
    13.	  
    14.	## DEVELOPMENT RELATED SETTINGS
    15.	  
    16.	## Do not crawl development files and folders: CVS, svn directories and dump files
    17.	Disallow: /CVS
    18.	Disallow: /*.svn$
    19.	Disallow: /*.idea$
    20.	Disallow: /*.sql$
    21.	Disallow: /*.tgz$
    22.	  
    23.	## GENERAL MAGENTO SETTINGS
    24.	  
    25.	## Do not crawl Magento admin page
    26.	Disallow: /admin/
    27.	  
    28.	## Do not crawl common Magento technical folders
    29.	Disallow: /app/
    30.	Disallow: /downloader/
    31.	Disallow: /errors/
    32.	Disallow: /includes/
    33.	Disallow: /lib/
    34.	Disallow: /pkginfo/
    35.	Disallow: /shell/
    36.	Disallow: /var/
    37.	  
    38.	## Do not crawl common Magento files
    39.	Disallow: /api.php
    40.	Disallow: /cron.php
    41.	Disallow: /cron.sh
    42.	Disallow: /error_log
    43.	Disallow: /get.php
    44.	Disallow: /install.php
    45.	Disallow: /LICENSE.html
    46.	Disallow: /LICENSE.txt
    47.	Disallow: /LICENSE_AFL.txt
    48.	Disallow: /README.txt
    49.	Disallow: /RELEASE_NOTES.txt
    50.	  
    51.	## MAGENTO SEO IMPROVEMENTS
    52.	  
    53.	## Do not crawl sub category pages that are sorted or filtered.
    54.	Disallow: /*?dir*
    55.	Disallow: /*?dir=desc
    56.	Disallow: /*?dir=asc
    57.	Disallow: /*?limit=all
    58.	Disallow: /*?mode*
    59.	  
    60.	## Do not crawl 2-nd home page copy (example.com/index.php/). Uncomment it only if 
    you activated Magento SEO URLs.
    61.	## Disallow: /index.php/
    62.	  
    63.	## Do not crawl links with session IDs
    64.	Disallow: /*?SID=
    65.	  
    66.	## Do not crawl checkout and user account pages
    67.	Disallow: /checkout/
    68.	Disallow: /onestepcheckout/
    69.	Disallow: /customer/
    70.	Disallow: /customer/account/
    71.	Disallow: /customer/account/login/
    72.	  
    73.	## Do not crawl seach pages and not-SEO optimized catalog links
    74.	Disallow: /catalogsearch/
    75.	Disallow: /catalog/product_compare/
    76.	Disallow: /catalog/category/view/
    77.	Disallow: /catalog/product/view/
    78.	  
    79.	## SERVER SETTINGS
    80.	  
    81.	## Do not crawl common server technical folders and files
    82.	Disallow: /cgi-bin/
    83.	Disallow: /cleanup.php
    84.	Disallow: /apc.php
    85.	Disallow: /memcache.php
    86.	Disallow: /phpinfo.php
    87.	  
    88.	## IMAGE CRAWLERS SETTINGS
    89.	  
    90.	## Extra: Uncomment if you do not wish Google and Bing to index your images
    91.	# User-agent: Googlebot-Image
    92.	# Disallow: /
    93.	# User-agent: msnbot-media
    94.	# Disallow: /
    

     

    5. Besides, it would be good for SEO if you set the prefix and suffix for the headers. This can be done at System – Configuration – Design – HTML header. Another important step would be addition of a Google map on your site.

    We will review other ways of optimization and increasing the site ratings in the search results in future articles. If you have any questions please feel free to contact our magento experts team, they will be glad to assist you.

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