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  • Category creation and configuration

    Category creation and configuration

    Once an online store is created is it necessary to configure it properly to ensure correct functionality of all elements. The main task of any Magento store owner is configuration of a catalog. Let us review how creation and configuration of categories is done.

    How to create a catalog

    To begin the administrative work, go to the admin panel, then to System – Configuration – Catalog. This section determines which products will be displayed on the pages of your future catalog.

    You should set the values for the following fields:

    1. Products per Page. This field determines how many products will be displayed on a certain page by default. You can set this parameter to the value you wish. The option ‘Show all’ remains active. When it is selected the page is refreshed and a user can see all products on the page.

    2. List Mode. The products will be displayed as a list of certain type but the customer will be able to change the default parameter.

    3. Grid only. This parameter is responsible for displaying products as a simple grid. This parameter cannot be changed by a user. This option is good for saving time while turning pages but it is not always convenient, e.g. on a mobile site version.

    4. List Only. This is also a product list but customers cannot change the way of displaying products.

    5. Grid (Default)/List. This is a combination of several display types. A customer can choose how they wish to view the products – using a grid or a list. By default, the products are displayed in a grid.

    6. List (Default)/Grid. The same type of combination as the previous one, with only difference that the products are displayed in a list by default.

    The next option that can be set in this part of the admin panel is product parameters.

    Configuration of products in categories

    Default Tax Class. In this option you should determine whether or not taxes will be applied to the products which you add after the catalog is configured. If this functionality is not configured in your admin panel you can use corresponding GoMage extensions.

    It is very important to properly configure notifications regarding payment or updating product status. This option not only increases user’s interest to a specific product but also helps you to expand a database of your online store subscribers. You can create an option like “Follow the product price”. Then, once the price for a specific product is changed customers will receive a notification to their email. You can also use an option “Inform once available in stock”. This way your customers will be notified when the products they are interested in become available in stock.

    The option “Follow the product price” can be configured according to your wish. For this, change the parameters listed below:

    Frequency – every day, once a week or once a month the system will notify customers about price changes of the products they choose;

    Start time – the time when the system begins to check for updates;

    Error Email Recipient – here you need to set your work address to which a notification will be sent if there are any errors when the product price and status are updated;

    Error Email Sender – an email address from which the emails will be sent to you;

    Error Email Template - Magento themes which will be used in the error notification email.

    Save all changes and check the work of the functionality. Please read other articles in our Magento blog and share them with your friends if you find them useful. If you have any questions regarding the functionality and catalog system configuration please feel free to contact Magento development team.

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  • Custom Design for Magento categories

    Custom Design for Magento categories

    Design is very important for an online store, it possibly plays the key role in attracting users’ interest to your products. In order to make your menu representation unique and beautiful you can configure Custom Design for Magento categories.

    Why it is necessary

    Every online store must have its own zest. If you have already tried all other variants and have come to an idea of creation of a useful and efficient design, why don’t you start with configuration of categories output? To make it convenient for both administrators and customers you should pay attention to creating a specific style for each category.

    This becomes possible in your Magento online store thanks to its unique option called Custom Design. Let us review how to configure it.

    Step-by-step instruction

    Go to the admin panel and locate the option for Custom Design. The system will offer you several variants of design for a specific category. You can choose any variant you wish or even add your own one. If you do not choose any variants the field will remain empty and your store will use a standard theme which is set as default for that object.

    This parameter can be changed if you go to System > Configuration > Design. There you need to locate ‘Current package name’ option which indicates which of eCommerce templates is currently used. In this option you can specify the name of the design package you like or the one you have uploaded from your computer. Do not forget to save the changes.

    Now, the most interesting moment is configuration of categories output. To apply unique design to each category you need to do the following. In the drop-down menu ‘Apply To’ choose the necessary variant. For example, if the specified design is going to be used for one category only, the variant will be ‘This category only’. You can also choose ‘This category and its products’ – this means that selected design will be used not only for category itself but for all its products, too. However, if one and the same product belongs to several categories, this product should be displayed differently in each category to avoid confusing.

    Another interesting variant is ‘This category and its child categories’. This means that selected design will be applied to this category, its products and its child categories. Remember that, if you set the child categories to use design template different from the one set for the parent category, this setting will not be applied. The system will not consider it as a priority. If you wish to set all categories and products to use the same design template, choose the option ‘All’.

    You can also choose the period of time in which this specific design will be enabled and disabled. This is a very convenient option. In order to configure it just choose the corresponding time frame in the lines ‘Active From’ and ‘Active To’. This option is very convenient if you need to enable specific design for specific period of time, e.g. on holidays or sales. It will automatically be enabled when the time comes, then disabled when scheduled, and the site will return to its usual design.

    Beside that option you can also use specific GoMage extensions which will help you to create unique and convenient design.

    You can also use this section to configure the functionality for each category. For example, you can make it have one or two columns, display products without delimiters or configure the output areas for additional columns. In order to do that, choose the desirable option in ‘Page Layout’ drop-down list. It can be ‘No layout updates’ (only standard settings left), ‘Empty’ (the category page will only display products), ‘1 column’ (or ‘3 columns’), ‘Column on the left’ (option to choose currency will be displayed), ‘Column on the right’ (usually contains ‘Shopping cart’, ‘Wishlist’, ‘Polls’, etc.). The option ‘Custom Layout Update’ is responsible for update of the settings. Pay attention to the fact that, if you wish to create your own themes, they should all have XML structure.

    If you have any questions please email to Magento development team or leave your comments to the article. Also read other articles in our blog and share your thoughts and experience.

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  • Top Menu customization in Magento

    Top Menu customization in Magento

    Creation of a convenient menu is one of the basic factors of increasing sales for an online store. In order to develop the most convenient access to the main menu items it is necessary to know how Top Menu customization is done in Magento.

    What customization is

    Customization is creation of new items in the main menu according to specific categories. Such action will help you to develop the most easy-to-use and understandable site design. Customization can be done in any site menu and many programmers think that it is better to work with the main Top Menu.

    In order to add certain items to the Top navigation Menu those items should correspond to existing product categories. Implementation of other categories into this site section is done with the help of a specific algorithm. It often happens you need to place a simple link or a non-product category in the main navigation menu.

    A piece of advice: many internet marketing specialists insist that the top navigation menu should contain links to separate site pages (‘About us’, ‘Shipping rules’, etc.). There are several solutions of that task:

    1. Create a ‘fake’ category which must redirect to the necessary page once its button in clicked;

    2. Make modifications to Magento core;

    3. Create a specific Magento extension.

    The first variant is quite simple for beginning programmers, but some search engines may consider such customization approach as cloaking. Besides, it will take significant time to realize such functionality for each necessary option in the top menu.

    Making changes to Magento core leads to serious consequences. Firstly, in most cases it has a very bad influence on further Magento upgrades. Secondly, if you unintentionally remove at least one core file the whole store may go down at once.

    The third way is the most logical and safe for your business. You can create a module that will add any random page you need. In order to start creating it, go to app/code/local folder and create a folder ‘My’ inside it, and then create a folder ‘Module’ inside ‘My’. Then, you need to create one more folder - ‘etc’ - inside the folder ‘Module’ and in that folder you should place a file config.xml.

    The file config.xml must contain the following code:



    In order for the module to be enabled, go to app/etc/modules folder and create a file My_Module.xml inside it. This file will be responsible for initialization of the module. The file must contain the following code:



    Save the changes and go back to My/Module/Model folder. There, you need to create a file Observer.php. This file will define a method which should be used to realize the method of the module customization – addToTopmenu. Use the code below:

    class My_Module_Model_Observer
    public function addToTopmenu(Varien_Event_Observer $observer)
    	$menu = $observer->getMenu();
    	$tree = $menu->getTree();
    	$node = new Varien_Data_Tree_Node(array(
            	'name'   => 'categories',
            	'id' 	=> 'categories',
            	'url'	=> Mage::getUrl(), // point somewhere
    	), 'id', $tree, $menu);
    	// Children menu items
    	$collection = Mage::getResourceModel('catalog/category_collection')
    	foreach ($collection as $category) {
        	$tree = $node->getTree();
        	$data = array(
            	'name'   => $category->getName(),
            	'id' 	=> 'category-node-'.$category->getId(),
            	'url'	=> $category->getUrl(),
        	$subNode = new Varien_Data_Tree_Node($data, 'id', $tree, $node);


    Pay attention that the line ‘categories’ defines the categories which will be added to the top navigation menu. If you have any questions regarding this type of Magento customization please leave your comments or consult with Magento development team.

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  • How to make customers buy nothing

    How to make customers buy nothing

    Profit is the ultimate purpose of any online store owner. We now offer you to get acquainted with a list of harmful pieces of advice how to make your customers buy nothing.

    What customers need

    Many online store owners think that if a customer needs something they will buy it regardless of a product description or a store design. This is absolutely wrong. And the matter is not even that a person may not like cheap design or too many bright elements on a page, it is that many various fonts, colors, glimmering or animation effects hinder users’ perception of the content.

    Pay attention to the fact that popular online stores do not have any redundant elements but they are convenient, easy-to-use and beautiful. If you do not have good programming skills you will hardly be able to create an ideal template for your site free of charge. But you can buy the most appropriate of Gomage Magento themes and then create a unique style for your site.

    There is another way to scare customers away from your site – create a complicated menu structure. Let a customer try and find whatever they need. Remove all useful links from the top menu. It would be great if different categories and blocks are located in random places on your site. A counter-advice: everything must be clear on your store. Any customer should be able to find what they need regardless of their computer skills level.

    Do you know what a context and teaser advertisement is? You can use these types of advertisements to make some profit on your site that would not depend on your sales! Put as many various ads blocks of all kinds and sizes as possible on your site. A great variant would be to have a pop-up window that cannot be removed on a mobile version of your site. Let all customers be of use without even buying something. This will give you an additional profit of at least $50-100.

    How to reduce sales

    In order to reduce your sales to a disastrous level you need to follow the points below:

    1. Increase product prices. Why would you try to match your competitors on the market? It is better to gain maximum profit at once. Increase your prices regardless of the season and demand;

    2. Make the ordering process more complicated. Let a potential customer enter all their data during checkout, beginning with the last name and ending with their fax number and passport ID;

    3. It is a good idea to make the process of payment more complicated, too. Enable only one payment system which is most convenient for you. Why would you put so many different links or modules on your site?

    4. Publish your products without description. Or copy them from other sites and place on yours. So, you can save some money as you will not need to hire a content manager;

    5. Do not offer discounts, holiday sales or any other interesting propositions.

    Beside that pay less attention to product images. Do not even think of buying any GoMage extensions for improving image quality or their display. You can use one of the two ways: either do not upload any pictures at all or take your own photos of the products. You do not need any image quality compensation or watermarks – they are not so important.

    Also, you must ignore customers. Do not place your contact address on the site and do not create a support service. This is a waste of money and time, let your customers handle their problems by themselves. But, if you already have that service, you can simply ignore customers’ questions, delay your response or be rude. There are a lot of possible ways.

    Of course, all of these are ironical comments based on observations of beginning businessmen, but still, you should keep them in mind as an example of how an online store should NOT be managed. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact Magento experts.

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  • Image compensation in Magento

    Image compensation in Magento

    Magento is a unique platform for online stores creation. Most of its functions are directed to improve the site ranking and attract users’ attention but some of them can significantly influence the store sales. One of such functions is images compensation in Magento.

    What it is

    Image compensation is reducing of its size (weight) at the expense of some lowering of the image quality or decreasing its parameters (side proportions). Naturally, web developers aimed at creating a system that would automatically distinguish ‘heavy’ images and they used a special Magento module to reduce the page loading time. But this is only one side of the coin, as this method has its disadvantages.

    The main function of that module is modification of an image. At first sight, everything is great. But such compensation negatively influences images quality. They got corrupted, and if there is a text on the image it becomes unreadable.

    How to disable compensation

    Of course, if the quality of product images is not critical for your online store then this function can help you in the store promotion. But, if you sell products which should be viewed on a picture carefully by a customer before buying, e.g. gift cards or clothes, then you need to disable image compensation in Magento.

    In order to do that, you can ask Magento development team for assistance, or try to do it on your own following the instructions below. First, find the file Gd2.php which is located at lib/Varien/Image/Adapter. Now, use ctrl+F to locate the following line in the file:

    //call_user_func($this->_getCallback('output'), $this->_imageHandler, $fileName);


    It should be replaced with the following code:

    if ($this->_fileType === IMAGETYPE_JPEG) {
    call_user_func($this->_getCallback('output'), $this->_imageHandler, $fileName, 99); 
    } else {
    call_user_func($this->_getCallback('output'), $this->_imageHandler, $fileName); 


    Pay attention that ‘99’ corresponds to the maximum image quality. Images with such parameter will look perfectly on a store page but, at the same time, they will be very heavy for load. Some search systems will not like that, especially Google. If you do not wish to remove that line to be able to reverse the action, just comment it out using double slash “//”.

    Once those actions are done you need to go to the admin panel and flush the store cache. It is also recommended to clean your browser history and make sure that image cache is also cleaned. Go to Cache Management - Images Cache to do that. Now check the result of your work – just upload a high-quality image to your online store which would previously have been compensated to the certain size.

    There is another way which is considered to be less efficient but simpler. You just need to save the images as ‘web Image’ in Photoshop before uploading them to your store. This helps to reduce the image weight with minimal effect on its quality. Of course, there is no guarantee that the system will not try to compensate that image, too, but it is worth trying.

    This instruction is suitable for Magento releases higher than 1.2, but remember that you will need to rewrite the part of code mentioned above after each system upgrade. If you have any questions, please email us directly or leave your comments. Please also read other articles in our blog and share the most interesting of them to your friends. You can also discuss this and other Magento related problems on Magento forum.

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  • How to configure "Top Links" in Magento

    How to configure Top Links in Magento

    Configuration of the top menu is the main task of any online store owner or administrator. It is important to not only consider all peculiarities of the menu block perception by users but also to be able to configure the system properly. That is why you should know how to configure “Top Links’ in Magento.

    What “Top Links” are

    “Top Links” is one of the main blocks in Magento system. The basic online store URLs are formed there. It is also called top menu. This block contains all buttons which your customers or guest users may need, such as Login/Logout, My Account, My Wishlist, My Cart and Checkout. By default, this block is located at the top of your store page or in the header.

    The main difference between top links and other links on your site is that they are static. However, the content of pages to which these links direct may change depending on user’s actions. For example, ‘My Wishlist’ link: when a customer adds a product to their Wishlist that product will appear on the page once ‘My Wishlist’ link is clicked. Along with that, there are no additional actions needed to be performed by a user in this case, the process is absolutely automatic.

    How Top Links are called

    The following code is responsible for the output of Top Links block:

    <?php echo this->getChildHtml('topLinks') ?>


    It is located in file template/page/html/header.phtml. Configuration of the necessary URLs is done in file page.xml. You can view available links in this part of code:

    <block type="page/html_header" name="header" as="header">
    	<block type="page/template_links" name="top.links" as="topLinks"/>
    	<block type="core/text_list" name="" as="topMenu"/>


    Beside that you can remove some of these links here you can also add other blocks in Magento Top Links. For that, you need to type the following code:

    <action method="addLink" translate="label title" >…</action>


    The code should be added in files customer.xml (buttons Login/Logout, My Account), checkout.xml (buttons My Cart and Checkout) and wishlist.xml (button My Wishlist).

    You also need to make a note in these files that you call the links using ‘action’ method. For that, you need to type the opening tag <action method="addCartLink"></action> and closing tag - <action method="addCheckoutLink"></action>.

    How to configure Top Links

    Sometimes online store owners need to make some changes to that site, either for experimental purposes or for additional configuration of Magento themes, etc. For example, you need to split the line ‘Top Links’ into two parts. In order to do that, go to the file page.xml. You need to create an additional block in it that would tell the system that there are some Top Links which should be located on the left (right) side of the page. Let’s say that block is called topLinksLeft:

    <block type="page/html_header" name="header" as="header">
    	<block type="page/switch" name="store_language" as="store_language" template="page/
    	<block type="core/text_list" name="" as="topMenu"/>
    	<block type="page/template_links" name="top.links" as="topLinks"/>
    	<block type="page/template_links" name="top.links.left" as="topLinksLeft"/>


    Then go to the section ‘template’, locate page/html and open file header.phtml. Here, you need to ‘inform’ Magento that a new block must be displayed on the left side:

    <?php echo this->getChildHtml('topLinksLeft') ?>


    You need the code provided below:

    <div class="header">
    	<h1 id="logo" class="logo" title="<?php echo $this->getLogoAlt() ?>" style="
      background-image:url(<?php echo $this->getLogoSrc() ?>);"><a href="<?php echo 
      $this->getUrl('') ?>"><?php echo $this->getLogoAlt() ?></a></h1>
    	<div class="toplinksleft"><?php echo $this->getChildHtml('topLinksLeft') ?></div>
    	<?php echo $this->getChildHtml('topLinks') ?>
    	<?php echo $this->getChildHtml('topMenu') ?>


    After saving changes go back to customer.xml. Add a few lines of code in which you change the name of the block where the links are displayed:

    	<reference name="top.links.left">
        	<action method="addLink" translate="label title" module="customer"><label>My Account
          </label><url helper="customer/getAccountUrl"/><title>My Account</title><prepare/>
    	<reference name="top.links.left">
        	<action method="addLink" translate="label title" module="customer"><label>Log Out
          </label><url helper="customer/getLogoutUrl"/><title>Log Out</title><prepare/>


    So, you need to replace top.links with top.links.left and save the changes.

    In such a way, you can modify the Top Links according to your needs. In order to learn more about Magento options please review other articles in our GoMage blog, or contact Magento development company directly.

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  • Useful advise on CSS configuration in Magento

    Useful advise on CSS configuration in Magento

    For any online store administrator it is very important to know some programming tricks that would help to improve the site design or extend its functionality. We offer you to review some useful advice on CSS configuration in Magento.

    How to change background color

    In order to attract more attention to your site you can change the background color of the highlighted text. The following code works in Mozilla Firefox and Safari browsers:

    ::selection{ /* Safari and Opera */
    ::-moz-selection{ /* Firefox */


    Just replace the color values with the ones you need.

    Replacing text with an image

    This is a good way to attract users’ attention. You can replace a long text with a beautiful image, thus using infographic and other methods. But you should be careful - if the same method is used too often Google may reduce your store ratings:

    background:url('someimage.jpg') no-repeat;
    height: 100px; /*dimensions equal to image size*/


    The above code serves to replace the text with an image but the search engines will still see the text.

    Minimal cross-browser height

    Some web browsers, e.g. IE 6, do not recognize min-height tag but the following code will correct that issue:

    height:auto !important;/*all browsers except ie6 will respect the !important flag*/
    height:500px;/*Should have the same value as the min height above*/


    Also, if some elements are not displayed on your site through that browser version, you should add the value ‘position: relative;’ to their CSS code.

    URL address

    Of course, you can create a hyperlink in your text in such a way that a user sees the destination URL before clicking the link. But if you cannot do that, use the following code:

    a[target="new"]:before {
    margin:0 5px 0 0;
    outline:1px solid #333;
    font:12px "Zapf Dingbats";
    content: "\279C";


    Red line

    Not all online businessmen like when a new line starts with a usual upper case letter. Marketing specialists insist on making all even slightly significant elements bright and attractive. In order to make the initial letters large it is necessary to use the following code:

    margin:5px 0 0 5px;


    If you wish all text to be written in capitals, not only the initial letter, you need to add the following code:

    h2 { text-transform: capitalize;}


    In order to create an interesting site style you can also use the following method. All letters on the site will be larger but the letters standing after the initial ones will be smaller in order to make some contrast:

    h2 { font-variant:small-caps; }


    Forms without tables

    Table-based forms are now actively being replaced with more good-looking and modern ones based on label. You can configure any GoMage themes in that way.

    In order to implement such form into your store you need to type the form code in the following way:

    In HTML:

    <form method="post" action="#" >
    <p><label for="username" >Username</label>
    <input type="text" id="username" name="username" />
    <p><label for="password" >Password</label>
    <input type="password" id="password" name="pass" />
    <p><input type="submit" value="Submit" /></p>


    In CSS:

    p label{


    If any methods need clarification, please feel free to contact our Magento development team. You may also be interested in reading other articles in GoMage blog. Please share the articles to your friends if you like them.

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  • How to disable 'Compare' block in Magento

    How to disable 'Compare' block in Magento

    Many online stores use specific extensions, add-ons or modified themes to allow customers compare products. But sometimes, a Magento store owner may need to remove a ‘Compare’ block from their site.

    Why ‘Compare’ block is needed

    ‘Compare’ block is a very useful thing as it allows your clients consider all pros and cons of buying this or that product and choose the best variant from the ones they viewed. Of course, you could simply use a theme without such add-on or disable it. But many marketing specialists recommend using that feature on your site to increase sales.

    In the standard theme that block is located in catalog.xml, namely in ‘default’ descriptor. The following part of code is responsible for output of that block:

    <reference name="right">


    This is where you can configure the place in which your ‘Compare’ block will be shown. But what if you do not need to display it at all?

    How to remove ‘Compare’ block in Magento

    The main problem here is that ‘Compare’ block cannot be disabled through the admin panel. In order to remove this option you need to slightly modify the code. If you are not sure in your programming skills you may use the service of Magento development company.

    First of all, you need to disable cache on the site. Then go to app/design/frontend/yourpackage/yourtheme/layout, locate the file reports.xml and open it in the editor. Using ctrl + F locate the following line:

    <block type="reports/product_compared" before="right.permanent.callout" 
    name="right.reports.product.compared" template="reports/product_compared.phtml" />


    This line should be commented out using <!-- and --> symbols.

    Now, go to your theme folder app/design/frontend/yourpackage/yourtheme/template/reports and locate the file home_product_viewed.phtml. Open it in the editor and find the following lines:

    <?php if($_compareUrl=$this->getAddToCompareUrl($_product)): ?>
     	<li><span class="separator">|</span> <a href="
      <?php echo $_compareUrl ?>"><?php echo $this->__('Add to Compare') ?></a></li>
    <?php endif; ?>


    They must be commented out as shown above or removed. Then save the changes.

    After that go to app/design/frontend/yourpackage/yourtheme/template/checkout/cart and find the file crosssell.phtml. It also contains the code that should be deleted or commented out:

    <?php if($_compareUrl=$this->getAddToCompareUrl($_item)): ?>
      	<li><span class="separator">|</span> <a href="
        <?php echo $_compareUrl ?>"><?php echo $this->__('Add to Compare') ?></a></li>
    <?php endif; ?>


    Save the changes again and repeat the same actions in folder app/design/frontend/yourpackage/yourtheme/template/catalog/product/view, file addto.phtml, delete or comment out the lines:

    <?php if($_compareUrl=$this->helper('catalog/product_compare')->getAddUrl($_product) ): ?>
    	<li><span class="separator">|</span> <a href="
      <?php echo $_compareUrl ?>"><?php echo $this->__('Add to Compare') ?></a></li>
    <?php endif; ?>


    After that move to app/design/frontend/yourpackage/yourtheme/template/catalog/product, open file new.phtml and locate the lines:

    <?php if($_compareUrl=$this->getAddToCompareUrl($_product)): ?>
      	<li><span class="separator">|</span> <a href="
        <?php echo $_compareUrl ?>"><?php echo $this->__('Add to Compare') ?></a></li>
    <?php endif; ?>


    Remove or disable them.

    The last step is to go to app/design/frontend/yourpackage/yourtheme/template/catalog/product, locate the file list.phtml, then remove or disable the following code:

    <?php if($_compareUrl=$this->getAddToCompareUrl($_product)): ?>
      	<li><span class="separator">|</span> <a href="
        <?php echo $_compareUrl ?>"><?php echo $this->__('Add to Compare') ?></a></li>
    <?php endif; ?>


    This code should be removed in two places, or the system may attempt to compare the products because of the file template/catalog/product/list.phtml.

    Save all changes after the modifications are complete. These actions do not only stop the functionality of the block ‘Compare’ but also help to avoid the attempts of displaying products from separate system files.

    Now, do not forget to enable cache and check the changes you have made. Please share this article to your friends and write your comments about your ways of disabling ‘Compare’ block in Magento.

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  • Magento widgets

    Magento widgets

    Widgets are used as a great method of increasing flexibility of your online store and your control over it. Let us discuss why Magento widgets are needed, what their types are and how to configure them.

    What Magento widgets are

    Magento widgets are external interface blocks which contain some information necessary to a user or important for a store marketing promotion. Each widget has a certain set of configuration properties which can be edited in the admin panel. An online store owner is able to configure various attributes for specific widgets as well as their location on the store pages.

    Starting from Magento Community Edition 1.4 and Enterprise Edition 1.6 versions the system offers much more various options. In some widgets, certain settings can even be modified by users, if you allow that in the admin panel.

    Why Magento widgets are needed

    Naturally, it is for each store owner to choose whether or not they use Magento widgets. These add-ons provide less additional functionality than a Magento module, but they can play an important role for an advertising campaign, frontend configuration, etc.

    What we need Magento widgets for:

    1. They can be used to transfer any dynamic information;

    2. Such add-ons are often used in online stores to display pages or products that a user has viewed;

    3. If you cooperate with different advertizing companies or simply wish to place a link to an interesting product then widgets are your best assistants;

    4. They help to configure alternative animation, such as a tag cloud or sliders, etc.;

    5. Such add-ons often contain chats or other tools to help customers make their choice. For instance, is can be a virtual hairdresser or a stylist.

    How to create a widget

    In order to develop Magento widgets you will need at least some experience in programming and knowledge of the system functionality characteristics. Usually, development of widgets significantly differs from development of extensions, despite their quite similar usage (providing of a convenient interface and desired functionality). But generally, if you need to create an extension that will be easy to configure by an admin, then widget is your best decision.

    If you do not have enough programming skills we recommend you to consult with Magento development team.


    In order to better understand the configuration or development of separate Magento widgets you should know the following terms:

    Frontend Block is a separate element that helps to create a visual output of the content;

    Magento widget is a block that can contain specific code, add-on or other site element;

    Magento CE 1.4, EE 1.6 and higher include the following widgets by default:

    1. CMS Page Link – it displays specific page (with templates configured according to your needs – one or two columns, etc.);

    2. CMS Static Block – it displays a specific block;

    3. Catalog Category Link – it is a very useful widget, it helps to output the links to partners’ sites, specific categories, products or sales in a certain place on your site;

    4. Catalog Product Link – this widget displays a specific product, you can change the header or description;

    5. Recently Compared Products – this widget compares products recently viewed by a customer.

    We would appreciate if you share your thoughts regarding Magento widgets in comments and name the ones you consider the most useful.

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  • Static blocks and pages in Magento

    Static blocks and pages in Magento

    Any online store owner sooner or later encounters a necessity to create a page or a block on their site. Let us review why static pages and blocks are needed in Magento and how they can be added on the site.

    What is a static page and why is it needed?

    A static page is a page on your site which remains unchanged regardless of the actions performed on it by a user. As opposite to it, a dynamic page is a page that contains various blocks, displays pop-ups and other features that depend on user’s actions performed on that page.

    Online store administrators usually create static pages to display the information about the store and its contact data. These can be such pages as “About Us”, “Shipping information”, “Privacy & Security”, “Return Policy”.

    How to create a static page

    Go to your admin panel then to CMS - Manage Pages. There you need to choose Add New Page. You will see a page on which you can configure a newly created static element of your site.

    In order to configure a new page you need to modify the following points:

    1. General Information. There, you need to set such fields as: “Page Title”- it is a page name that will be displayed in user’s browser header as well as in the list of the site pages; “SEF URL Identifier” – it is a page identification number in which you need to enter the URL that you wish to see in a browser address bar for this page. The field must not contain any spaces and only include Roman symbols. You may use a URL translation service for better convenience if your site does not use Roman alphabet. “Status” is a page status – Enabled or Disabled. One of the most important fields is “Content” – it should include the text or other information that you wish to display on your static page.

    2. Custom Design. There, you can configure your new page design. In the field “Custom Theme” you may set the template you wish to use for this page and it may differ from the template used for other pages; or, you may leave this field unchanged. The field “Custom Theme From/Custom Theme To” indicates the term of action of the template you selected, you may also leave it unchanged. “Layout” will help you to choose one of Gomage Magento themes with one, two or three columns. “Layout Update XML” is an extremely important field as it helps to change the layout selected in the previous point and the changes will only affect this specific page.

    3. Meta Data. There, you can configure “Keywords”, “Description” and other Meta Data for your static page.

    Once all changes are done you only need to click “Save Page” then open the page in a browser and check how it is displayed.

    Static block in Magento

    Static block in Magento is a text or HTML code which can be located in any part of the site and is not affected by any user’s actions. Such block can be configured in the admin panel. An online store owner can use this block to add an advertisement, category links, informational banners and other useful things on their site. Many administrators also use such blocks to display social advertisements and other interesting features necessary for the site promotion.

    In order to create a static block in Magento you need to go to the admin panel then to CMS - Static Blocks - Add New Block. You will see a new page with various settings which can be modified in order to adjust the functionality and appearance of your block.

    Block Title: it is a name of your block. This name will be displayed in the list of blocks in your admin panel;

    Identifier: it is a very important field, it must contain a unique identifier of your block;

    Status: it is a block status on your site depending on your current purpose - Enabled or Disabled;

    Content: this field contains whatever you wish this block to display – advertisement text, some information, HTML code, etc.

    Once all changes are done click “Save Block”.

    How to add a block to a category

    Let’s suggest you want to add a new block to a certain Magento category. In order to do that, go to Catalog - Manage Categories. In this section you need General Information tab, or, depending on your Magento version, Display Settings tab. Click on it and you will see a new page on which you need to modify the following fields:

    Display Mode and CMS Block. The former allows changing the mode of categories display. The latter one has several sub-points once selected: Products only (show products from the selected category only), Static block only (display a static block only), Static block and products (displays products from a specific category and a static block simultaneously).

    After that choose which block will be displayed in the specific category and save the changes.

    In order to display a static block in any place on your site you need to do the following:

    1. Create a block. The procedure of creation is described above;

    2. Add the information about this block into xml file;

    3. Call the block in a specific place on your site. For this you need to use .phtml file;

    4. Flush the cache but only if it is enabled;

    5. Refresh the page.

    Let’s say you need to add a banner to the site header. It is worth mentioning that many well-known web marketing specialists recommend placing static blocks into headers as they get more chance to be noticed and viewed in that case.

    In order to tell the site about its new block, go to the file app/design/frontend/your_package/your_theme/layout/page.xml and locate the following part of code:

    <block type="page/html_header" name="header" as="header">
    <block type="page/template_links" name="top.links" as="topLinks"/>
    <block type="page/switch" name="store_language" as="store_language" template="page/switch/
    <block type="core/text_list" name="" as="topMenu"/>



    You need to add the following lines in “header” block:

    <!-- CMS Block into Layout begin-->
    <block type="cms/block" name="cms_block_name">
    <action method="setBlockId"><block_id>block_name</block_id></action>
    <!-- CMS Block into Layout end-->



    After that the block will look like this:

    <block type="page/html_header" name="header" as="header">
    <block type="page/template_links" name="top.links" as="topLinks"/>
    <block type="page/switch" name="store_language" as="store_language" template="page/switch/
    <block type="core/text_list" name="" as="topMenu"/>
    <!-- CMS Block into Layout begin-->
    <block type="cms/block" name="cms_block_name">
     <action method="setBlockId"><block_id>block_name</block_id></action>
    <!-- CMS Block into Layout end-->



    In this code ‘block_name’ is an identifier that was set when the block was created and cms_block_name is the name of your block. Now you need to call the block in a specific place of your .phtml file. Go to app/design/frontend/your_package/your_theme/template/page/html/header.phtml, open the file and add the following code:

    <?php echo $this->getChildHtml('cms_block_name') ?>



    Now clean the cache and refresh the page:

    Go to the admin panel – System - Cache Management - clear_cache;

    Refresh the page in a browser.

    If you need to add a specific page into a static block, follow these steps:

    1. Create a block;

    2. Open the necessary page (CMS - Manage Pages) or create a new one according to the procedure described above;

    3. In the ‘Content’ of your block add the following code to call the necessary page:




    4. After the changes are done, save the block, refresh the page, clear the cache if necessary.

    If you have any troubles creating or configuring a static block in Magento please consult with Magento experts of GoMage. Please also share your comments about your experience in creation and usage of static blocks and pages on your site.

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