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Latest Magento Headlines, GoMage Updates and eCommerce Best Practices

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  • The advantages of Magento Enterprise

    The advantages of Magento Enterprise

    Free software is very convenient in terms of saving money which is very important now. But is this statement right in the field of internet business? Let us review the advantages of Magento Enterprise, a paid Magento edition, as well as some facts about Magento Community edition.

    Magento reference

    Magento is an open source code platform. A free edition can be downloaded from the official site and it is used by quite significant number of online businesses. Over 25% of entrepreneurs use this Magento edition. Originally, the system founders designed it to meet the requirements of customers from absolutely different business spheres.

    What are the advantages of the free Magento Community edition:

    1. There is a separate section where design files are stored. Unlike most of the site building systems in which design settings need to be looked for in various folders Magento has a specific directory for design configurations only;

    2. A huge quantity of additional modules. You can use different Magento extensions to extend your web store functionality. This is very convenient and efficient. The extensions can also be free or paid (those offer more functional capabilities, of course);

    3. Easy system upgrade. You do not need any specific skills to upgrade Magento Community system, the only disadvantage is that it is necessary to install each version in strict order, e.g. you cannot jump from 1.5 to 1.9 at once. You will need to upgrade it to 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 and only then install the version 1.9. From the other point of view, this is even good and will help you to avoid confusion in the upgrade order;

    4. At the very beginning, Community edition was created considering the requirements of both programmers and marketing specialists. The configuration of SEO, payment modules, product lines, sales, etc. - all is possible without a necessity to use third party extensions.

    But, despite all that, in time Magento presented a more extended edition which is mostly used by large companies. It is called Magento Enterprise.

    Main peculiarities of Magento Enterprise

    We should mention at once that Magento Enterprise is not a cheap purchase. It costs $15,550. However, for that price you get the whole set of functions that were not available in earlier editions.

    Magento Enterprise advantages

    1. A web store mobility. You can configure the system to work on mobile devices without installation of any third party extensions. The necessary module is built in the system which is very convenient. If you need any assistance with the configuration you are welcome to contact Magento experts of GoMage and ask for advice.

    2. The option of extended product offers is very useful. Now the web store owners can offer their customers those products in which they are actually interested. The list can be created with the help of the order history.

    3. A widened multi-language option, extended currency support and other useful features for large international web portals and stores.

    4. Extended SEO possibilities. For example, automatic site map generation, creation of an address list of sites that may serve as link agents, filling in metadata, etc.

    5. You can use the admin panel to manage customers’ data such as their location and order history. Besides, you can control all their actions.

    6. You have a possibility to run a private sale for VIP customers. This is very convenient for online auctions or just for stores that sale rare expensive products, such as Antiques, fashion boutiques, jewelry stores.

    7. The company states that Magento Enterprise edition performs catalogs re-index much faster, is better optimized for the search engines and is more flexible compared to Magento Community.

    8. A very simple and flexible tax calculation system that works without any additional extensions.

    9. But the most necessary option is probably the possibility of site certification to be able to accept direct credit card payments without installation of additional modules. Now you do not need to install additional extensions from PayPal.

    These are far not all advantages of the paid Magento edition. Naturally, it is only really large internet portals that actually need it, as they perform trade operations with a huge amount of clients every day.

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  • A few interesting facts about Magento

    A few interesting facts about Magento

    Magento is a very intriguing platform for web stores creation. Let us review a few interesting facts about Magento which you did not know, and also some popularity statistics of this platform.

    Facts about Magento

    Magento is considered to be the most dynamic web store creation system. It is hard to believe now but it was officially released in 2008. During the first few months the quantity of its customers grew to an almost fantastic number of several tens of thousands people. This was a unique event, a real breakthrough among the web store creation systems.

    At the moment, the quantity of sites based on this system has passed over the number of 125,000 and the value keeps growing every month. A huge part in its increasing popularity was played by a specific advertisement, as the most famous web stores are developed on Magento, we mentioned them in this article.

    Beside the sites we listed there, Magento customers also include Samsung (site mobileshop.samsung.fr), the official Ford site accessories.ford.com, Olympus cameras at getolympus.com. The main reason of such popularity is open source code which can be edited by customers or Magento experts they can hire, and also the system flexibility. Possibilities to use multi-language sites and create several stores on the same database are huge advantages, as well.

    It is also worth mentioning that Magento is known as the most secure system. Despite its open source, Magento is considered to be the most prepared to fight hackers’ attacks including DDoS-attacks. Even if you do not have any site administering skills you can perform all necessary settings to ensure absolute security of your web store data and your customers’ information.

    Magento installation package is downloaded from the official site about 5000 times a day and, according to statistics, this number keeps growing. However, you may also see a link to a pirate copy on some forums which is extremely dangerous as it can contain viruses. You should be careful and do not use files of unknown origin.

    There are a lot of various Magento modules which help you configure your store in the way you wish. Beside that some Magento extensions are used to extend the standard site functions and create new ones which is also very convenient. According to the latest data there are about 2000 extensions now.

    It is considered to be quite difficult to choose correct hosting provider to work on Magento, but it is not exactly right. It would be better to say that it is difficult to choose a good hosting provider. Magento system has specific server requirements, so get ready to spend some time searching for a hosting with corresponding servers. Although, there are about 185 companies which currently offer their service in this sphere.

    Unlike many other systems, Magento allows you create eCommerce templates by yourself. Naturally, this will require some programming skills but generally the process is not that difficult. Still, if you are not sure about your skills we highly recommend you to consult with GoMage specialists and you will have a guarantee that your site will work properly.

    You cannot but agree that this is very impressive for a system that only began its extensive work 6 years ago. By the way, the world-side known company eBay won the auction where Magento was being sold by investing 22,5 million dollars into it.

    Please share the most interesting facts about Magento that you know and add your comments on the facts we listed, we would like to know which of them have been most interesting to you.

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  • What the owner of an online store must not do

    What the owner of an online store must not do

    Do you want to run your own business and create an online store? Then we will share our observations regarding what should not be done after opening an online store and also mention some marketers’ observations.

    What you must not do

    Magento store is a perfect choice if a person wants to realize himself or develop their entrepreneurial flair. But not all the things go smoothly and according to the plan. Why? It seems that the promotion is working and the necessary Magento modules have been bought and even the business plan has been completed.

    What you should not do:

    1. Do not ignore the buyers’ complaints and demands. These are just the basics of business, the customer is always right. It is fully justified. You as a businessman should understand that people are different. Someone judges on goods and service objectively and someone just wanted to vent or express the negative emotions. You must be able to screen out such things, but in any case, you should not leave anything unattended and necessarily meet all the customers and try to satisfy their request;

    2. Do not steal ideas and descriptions from other sites. It is not only show you as a criminal, but it may entail the punishment by the search engines (leastwise, it is related to the duplicate content). Write everything yourself. It does not mean that you should create a unique and first-class description by yourself. You can hire a copywriter. The new ideas are necessary. The stolen ideas may not work out not only because they are stolen, but also because they are focused on a different kind of business or target audience;

    3. Try to pay as much attention as you can to the online store optimization. It is a very important item, otherwise you will be located at the end of the search engines pages (almost 80% of people do not go further than the second page while searching for the necessary information or a product). To get the most out of the content in your online store, hire a SEO-Optimizer, install the required extension (for example, GoMage SEO Booster), use the keywords and phrases in the products description and lead a blog;

    4. Change the style and description in the Magento store. Do not think that you can write the products description one time and forget about it. Firstly, add the products with a new data. Secondly, every product should have its unique description even if there are two same screwdrivers of different companies. Please your customers with a stylish updated design every season of the year. For example, it can be leaves when it is autumn, snowflakes when it is winter, green grass if it is spring and you can choose the sea if the season of the year is summer.

    5. Do not create a delivery problem. First of all, the owner of the international online store needs to take care of the logistics setting. Try to make contacts as clearly as possible, follow up the system of accounting and the principles of the products storage;

    6. Do not hold the flow of a new product. Regular updates are the way to success of any online store. Always keep the potential customers in suspense in order to make them wait for a new collection. It is very good if you have an opportunity to sell the old products with the discount. It will attract new customers. But, of course, it is the most convenient to organize such a style of the sales in the apparel online store;

    7. Do not work with beginners. Of course, we should give the chance to young specialist, but only in case if he is a real gifted or talented person. In all other cases you should choose only experienced partners who are checked with time and references. It may be programmers, copywriters, marketers, salespeople, Magento experts, etc. The main thing is to choose such a person who is versed in your business and like it.

    Perhaps these are the basic tips what the owner of an online store must not do. We will be glad to see your comments regarding this.

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  • Magento terminology

    Magento terminology

    Magento is one of the most popular platforms for web stores creation. The beginners often feel uncomfortable using it due to lack of theoretical knowledge. Today we will review Magento terminology.

    Magento terms

    There are a lot of terms that have the same meaning in Magento as well as in other platforms. We will discuss the most frequently used ones and explain their meaning in details.

    In order to understand some of the terms it is still necessary to know main principles of Magento functionality, Magento templates, read the user’s guide. First, let us review the difference between the concepts of Websites and Magento Stores.

    Websites. On the Websites platform there can be a certain number of web stores which use the same database, customers’ base and other information sources. You can configure different sites to display the same information.

    Stores. This is the part of site visible to customers. Depending on the configuration you can divide the stores but in most cases the stores that share the same database display the same content.

    Store Views. Store Views are the parts of sites where the products are displayed. One of the most convenient Magento options is that Store Views can be configured to use several languages. This feature is frequently used for Multilanguage stores.

    Magento architecture

    The base of Magento platform is Zend Framework which is considered to guarantee the security of the site code and your personal information.

    What makes Magento so convenient:

    1. High flexibility. If you are a skilled programmer you will not have a problem opening Magento source code. Otherwise we recommend you to ask GoMage Magento experts for assistance;

    2. You can update the system when you need it, you always have a choice and a right to not use updated versions;

    3. Very high performance speed and security of the system are above all competitors. That is why Magento is used by the most popular web stores. Despite that, your site can still be attacked by professional hackers but the probability of their penetration into the site data is very low on this platform.

    The next block of terms will be useful for configuration of any Magento site:

    Core. The core contains absolutely all site functions that is why making any modifications in it is very dangerous for further web store functionality. The source code of the core is a specific set of necessary modules. It is not recommended to change their code because after that you will not be able to install the upgrade and will have to re-install the whole system completely.

    Local. Local is the variant of Magento configuration which is stored in a separate user’s archive. They are used when it is necessary to upgrade the system or some of its functions. The principle of work of the Local is equal to the original source code.

    Community. Community is the configurations of your web store. You can change them according to your needs.

    Extensions. Extensions are the files which serve to improve the functionality of Magento, extend the platform options, etc. GoMage Extensions are known for their wide functionality as well as the guarantee that they will not affect the functionality of updates. The extensions can be installed manually or downloaded through Magento Connect.

    There are several types of extensions:

    1. Modules. They improve the standard properties and functions of Magento, e.g. payment module or translation module.

    2. Interface offers a wide range of visual options. Basically this type of extension influences customers’ interface which is configured in the admin panel.

    3. Themes. They are Magento templates. They help to make your web store design unique and complete the work of the above mentioned extensions. Magento Themes are also divided into two types - Default Themes and Non-Default Themes. The former ones are built in the system while the latter ones need to be bought or ordered from web designers.

    Additional terms

    The following terms are very popular not only with Magento programmers but with other specialists of this sphere:

    Layouts – they are standard XML files which determine the page description, its view, the number of blocks, general functionality.

    Templates – they are PHTML files which include files with (X)HTML extension and various PHP tags for connection of the other files.

    Skins – they are JavaScript blocks, CSS and image files, they serve to make the site pages beautiful.

    Blocks help to create a specific set of functions. They are used for configuration of the page layout on the web stores and other sites. There are Structural Blocks and Content Blocks. Structural are general blocks that form the site, e.g. sidebar, content column, footers, and Content blocks are what the Structural blocks are filled with.

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  • Watermark in Magento

    Watermark in Magento

    For any site on the Internet it is important to have uniqueness and preservation of copyright as in the description of the commodity positions and in the photographs. Let us review how to create a watermark in Magento which will be displayed automatically on the product images.

    What is the purpose of a watermark?

    Of course, its presence is not a perfect guarantee that the attackers will not take advantage of your photos, but you will make their work more difficult if you use this way. Many search engines use the filters of the images plagiarism, thus a criminal will not be able to place his own watermark on yours. He will have to erase it or hide and this is a fairly laborious task.

    The advantages of the watermark use:

    1. Copyright protection on the image;

    2. Additional advertisement. If a customer looks for something concrete in Google Image, for example, then he must pay attention to the image with the logo of your online store;

    3. You add an additional professional feature to your business.

    How to create a watermark

    To create a watermark yourself you can use Photoshop and your skills to work with it or you can slightly adjust the logo of your Magento store. The first variant fits the experienced users of the personal computers and people with the design skills. The second variant is an optimal one for the beginners.

    Let us start working:

    1. You need to go to the directory skin/frontend/base/default/images/catalog/product/placeholder/ because all the images which are necessary for your online store for the work are located here. We do not recommend making changes in the base theme and advising you to use the user’s one. Then you should edit the images’ files in the catalog skin/frontend/default/default/images/catalog/product/placeholder/ of your Magento Installation.

    2. Now you need to develop the image or configure the logo. In any case, put yourself in the customer’s place in order to understand what you would want to see in the online store on a product image. Also pay attention to what targeted audience you have.

    3. When you finish the watermark development, you need to configure its automatic output on the image in the Magento store. To do it you need to go to the admin panel: System – Configuration and chose the Design tab.

    4. You need to find the following category in this section - Product Image Watermarks. You will see the page with the possible Magento settings there. You need to enter a certain data in the following fields:

    4.1. Base Image Watermark Default Size is accordingly the size of the watermark. By the way, about the sizes. Any Magento Themes have several standard sizes which are 262*262, 50*50, 135*135;

    4.2. Base Image Watermark Opacity, Percent. You need to configure the optimal image in this field. It will be a bright sign or slightly prominent. It should be chosen in this line.

    4.3. Base Image Watermark Position. Everything is intuitively clear here. You should find the optimal variant for your Magento store.

    5. After making all the changes please save the configuration page and go to the main one in the online store. If everything is done correctly, then you will see a watermark on the images place if a picture is not placed on the commodity position by default. If the image exists, then it should look like regarding your settings (size, opacity, position).

    Sometimes the display of the watermark in Magento does not work even if you do all the step by step instructions. In this case, you need to clear the cache. Also you can use services of Magento development by GoMage or use special Magento extensions.

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  • Replication in Magento

    Replication in Magento

    Many options which are considered as necessary for a web store are already present in Magento. Let us review how to perform replication in Magento and why it is necessary.

    What is replication?

    Replication is creation of exact copies of certain files which are supposed to exchange the data. Correspondingly, replications are the copies of some system files, the files of Magento themes, extensions, etc.

    Magento platform can properly resist the database replication which is not always necessary for a web store. But if you use it to correct some customers’ data or to manage your database remotely, then it is a very useful option.

    There are several replication types in Magento:

    1. Bag replication;

    2. Programmed replication;

    3. Replication with the help of third party software (this type is almost never used in Magento or used very rarely).

    How to configure replication

    The replication configuration in Magento is performed with the help of an installation Master Slave for a web store. This is very convenient due to easiness of many options performance. Also it is necessary to mention that, when Master Slave is used, Magento system sends waiting queries to all servers while correct queries are sent to the database.

    Database ranging in Magento is quite a difficult task. If you wish to execute it without having corresponding skills and experience it would be better to consult with Magento experts.

    Preparing for replication

    First of all, you need to configure two MySQL servers. You will also need a hostname, IP address, username and password.

    Preparing for configuration:

    1. Open file my.cnf which is in /etc/mysql directory (this only works for those who use Debian distribution, e.g. Ubuntu). In case you work with XAMPP you will need the file my.ini from xampp/bin directory.

    2. Now you need to find the part of code you see below and comment it (put a # sign at the beginning), thus you will open access to your MySQL server for other networks:

    #bind-address = 127.0.0.1

    3. Paste the following code below [mysqld] section; you can change the parameters to the ones you need:

    server-id = 1
    log_bin = /var/log/mysql/mysql-bin.log
    expire_logs_days = 10
    max_binlog_size = 100M
    binlog_do_db = magentodb
    

     

    4. Then re-start MySQL server. For Debian distribution the command looks like this:

    sudo /etc/init.d/mysql restart

    5. After that re-login to MySQL console:

    sudo mysql -u root -p

    6. And now in MySQL shell enter the following commands:

    GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `magentodb` . * TO 'slave_user’@’%’ WITH
    GRANT OPTION IDENTIFIED BY 'slave_password’;
    FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
    QUIT;
    

     

    7. Re-login to MySQL root shell, enter the following commands and check the work of Master Slave:

    USE magentodb;
    FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK;
    SHOW MASTER STATUS;
    

     

    8. You will see a black screen with some white text on it;

    9. Save the data that you see, you will need them to work with Master Slave;

    10. Use the below command in MySQL shell to unlock database tables:

    UNLOCK TABLES;
    quit;
    

     

    11. That’s it, the main part of the job is finished.

    Now we configure Master Slave:

    1. Go to the root directory of Master Slave by entering the following command in its interface:

    mysql -u root –p

    2. Now create a new database magentodb and import the database which is being replicated into your new database;

    3. Open file my.cnf or my.ini from folders /etc/mysql or xampp/mysql/bin. Add [mysqld] above the following code. Then you can change the values according to your server requirements:

    [mysqld]
    server-id = 2
    master-host = 192.168.3.12
    master-user = slave_user
    master-password = slave_password
    master-connect-retry = 60
    replicate-do-db = magentodb
    

     

    4. Re-start MySQL server again:

    /etc/init.d/mysql restart

    5. Go to the root panel of Slave MySQL by entering the following in its interface:

    mysql -u root -p

    6. Now enter the following command in MySQL. You need to use the file master log and the position ‘master log’ in the same way as in the server settings:

    CHANGE MASTER T
    O MASTER_HOST=’192.168.3.12’, MASTER_USER=’slave_
    user’, MASTER_PASSWORD=’slave_password’, MASTER_LOG_FILE=’mysqlbin.
    000001’, MASTER_LOG_POS=88;
    

     

    7. Now start the server on which the replications will be stored:

    START SLAVE;

    8. Check the status of Slave using the command below:

    SHOW SLAVE STATUS \G

    9. You will see a black screen with white text again.

    Now your configuration of Magento replication is complete. We will be glad if you share your thoughts about using this option in Magento in the comments. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact GoMage specialists directly.

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  • How to prevent DDoS attacks

    How to prevent DDoS attacks

    The issue of security has always been the most sensitive for owners of online stores. This topic is rather difficult, but we will try to highlight it. Let us review how to prevent DDoS attacks to your site and what it is.

    What DDoS attack means and what purpose of it

    eCommerce business is one of the most profitable spheres. You have neither a rental fee, nor troubles with the vast rooms’ searches and many other advantages. But some factors are not changed based on the business you have. For example, one of them is competitors.

    If you have a very young, but successful Magento store which is being developed dynamically, provides customers with the different unique products and polite service with the quick delivery, you should be ready to become a victim of your competitors. It was and it will be and it is a wonderful way to keep yourself in a good shape and lead your store to the correct direction for many business men. Unfortunately, the methods of competition in the Internet are no less cruel than in a real life.

    Say, DDoS attack which is done with the purpose to make a certain site or even server down. The easiest scheme looks like this:

    1. An attacker who wants to disrupt the performance of your site infects computers of the potential bots via his computer. These people may not know that their machines are infected at all, thus they will not suspect anything and know that they are the part of one’s scheme.

    2. After this he sends unreal requests which are processed by the online store anyway to your site using these computers. Here the cruelty begins. Many servers have a certain barrier after which they can’t cope with the requests quantity and can be down.

    3. So, it is clear that the site will not be working and the customers will leave it. Moreover, it can be defined as maleficent by antivirus programs. You should agree that it is not a good perspective.

    You can protect your Magento site from this attack.

    Let us consider how to reflect DDoS-attack.

    Fighting DDoS

    Any data which are added to your site whether it is links, requests and so on, passes the filtering using a certain server routers. It can help you to complicate the task for DDoS attackers. You should use not only one filter routing, but several. In this case, the quantity of the bots has to be increased for using and the requests have to be sent oftener. This is a significant material damage to the attacker, and loss of time, which cannot be recouped.

    Also you should discuss what variants of the protection from such attacks your hosting partner has. The Black Holes filtering is often used. It is also a very effective way to stop the attack. While using it the wrong requests are sent by the Null0 address.

    Upon reflection of this attack, it is important to secure yourself; otherwise a second time can be much more complicated. For this, many experts advise to use input filters directly on the site. It can be the line ip verify unicast reverse-path

    This line should be written in the interface of the incoming data stream to an online store.

    Many Magento experts consider that DDoS is a challenge for all the Internet society. Nowadays there are a big number of Magento extensions which allow protecting the site. But you should remember that the attackers do not sit on the ground and come up with new variants of the websites attack every day.

    Please leave your comments how to protect yourself and your site from DDoS attack and also ask GoMage specialists the questions regarding security.

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  • CSRF attacks

    CSRF attacks

    Security of a web store is a very serious matter on which customers' trust depends as well as the whole site operation and your online business itself. Let us discuss what CSRF attacks are and how you can protect your Magento web store.

    What is CSRF

    According to Wikipedia, CSRF (Cross-site request forgery) is a type of malicious exploit of a website through HTTP vulnerabilities. Theoretically, any site on the Internet can be attacked if there are skilled hackers willing to do that. The main purpose of such attacks is usually redirection of user's query from the original site to the one specified by the hacker. This attack is quite similar to a more popular XSS in which the hacker forces a user move to a page or click on a link that will redirect them to a certain page with malicious code.

    Practical usage of CSRF

    It is easy to say that a web browser simply creates an additional query to a different page – this is how the sites earn money and most of web store users are accustomed to such actions. How can this be a threat to a web store owner? The simplest example is an attack on the admin panel. Let's say you are a Magento store owner and your site has an option to create an admin user. This is a very important moment, as it is the registration or a new user creation form with an option to create a new administrator which is most vulnerable for hacker's attack. You just enter your email address, your name and password, then click on 'Create' or 'Sign in'.

    Let's suggest that a user is opening the page http://your_domain/admin/?do=add_admin&new_login=NewAdmin&new_pass=NewPass&new_mail=NewAdmin@Mail.Com

    At the same time, the attacker has already penetrated into the protocol and created a page http://fake/fakepage.html

    <html>
    <head>
    <title>usual page</title>
    </head>
    <body>
    

     

     

    Looks like the text is quite common but the matter is in the content:

    <img src="http://site/admin/?do=add_admin&new_login=Haker&new_pass=Pass&new_mail=Haker@
    fake.Com" alt="" width="1" height="1" />
    </body>
    </html>
    

     

     

    Therefore, by opening a legitimate site with the help of special software, e.g. FireBug, one can see the links to which the site usually sends queries and forge them to the ones the attacker needs. Of course, performing that task would take a lot of experience, but for a skilled hacker it is quite real.

    As a result of that, a store owner has just unintentionally created a new administrator because their action was redirected to a different query. In order to correct that they will need to use specific Magento extensions or ask for programmer's help. You are welcome to consult with GoMage specialists in case you encounter such issues.

    This is only one of hundreds of reasons to protect your site from this harm. Let us review how to do that.

    How to protect your site from CSRF attack

    Locate the file named local.xml in /app/etc/ directory. Open it in the editor.

    Find the part of code which is responsible for the query when a new administrator is created. Try to make it as much complicated and confusing as possible then any intruders will have a hard time hacking your site. For example, http://magento-forum.ru offers the following way:

    <admin>
    <routers>
    <adminhtml>
    <args>
    <!---in my case I changed it from to backend--->
    <frontName><![CDATA[backend]]></frontName>
    </args>
    </adminhtml>
    </routers>
    </admin>
    

     

     

    After that go to the admin panel, move to System - Configuration - Admin – Security. Set the following values in the lines:

    Add Secret Key to URLs – set to Yes;

    Login is Case Sensitive – set to Yes;

    Session Lifetime (seconds) – set the time interval to 360.

    Then save all changes.

    We would highly appreciate if you share your ways of protecting your Magento site from CSRF attacks in the comments to this article. If you have any questions you may ask them at http://www.gomage.com/blog/ or address GoMage team directly via email. We will do our best to help you.

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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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  • Magento Store Optimization

    Magento Store Optimization

    Any online store whether it is a usual blog or a big eCommerce site should be optimized for Search Engines. Let us review how to make Magento store optimization for Search Engines and how to create robots.txt correctly for this eCommerce Platform.

    Basic Requirements

    As admitted by many reliable sources, Magento is one of the most open eCommerce systems for quick optimization. That's why the most famous online stores use it for their business. To be able to fully realize their business on the Internet it is very important to pay particular attention to the site optimization. In order to get maximum impact with minimum effort you need to do the following actions:

    1. Configure Magento for work with Search Engines;

    2. Write the file robots.txt;

    3. Optimize the pages with products and sections.

    Magento Optimization

    First of all, you should go to the admin panel of your Magento store and go to the System section. Then you should go to Configuration – Web – Search Engine Optimization subcategory. Please set up ‘Use Web Server’ to ‘Yes’.

    In the section Url Options set the option ‘Add Store Code to Urls’ to ‘No’, and the option ‘Redirect to Base URL if requested URL doesn't match it’ should be set to ‘Yes’. Save the changes. Now you need to configure your store header in Magento. Go back to the main admin page then move to System – Configuration - Design.

    In that section, we need ‘HTML Head’ tab. There you need to add specific text. Do the following:

    • In the line ‘Default Title’ insert: Packt Publishing Technical & IT Book Store;
    • The lines Title Prefix and Title Suffix, Miscellaneous Scripts should be left empty.
    • Default Description text is written according to your web store direction. Here you should specify your business type and description of your work. The text should contain no more than 160 symbols - this is the limit of symbols accepted by the search engines.
    • The line Default Keywords can be filled with your store key words or left empty, since you already use Default Description.
    • In the line Default Robots choose INDEX, FOLLOW.
    • The field Display Demo Store Notice should be set to ‘No’.
    • In the field ‘Logo Image Alt’ add ‘Packt Publishing Technical & IT Book Store’.
    • Fill the line ‘Welcome Text’ if you wish.

    The text we used is a sample, you can replace it with whatever you need.

    Catalog Optimization

    This is another very important point of Magento site optimization. You may change the product paths to avoid creating duplicate content. In other to configure this catalog, go to System – Configuration – Catalog - Search Engine Optimizations. The product catalog configuration page will open. Here you need to choose the following options:

    Autogenerated Site Map – Enable
    Popular Search Terms – Enable
    Product URL Suffix - .html
    Category URL Suffix - .html
    Use categories Path for Product URL’s – No
    Create Permanent Redirect for old URL’s if key changed – Yes
    Page Title Separator – none
    Use canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories – No
    Use canonical Link Meta Tag For Products – No

    Save the changes and go back to Catalog, then to Manage Categories. Here you need to configure the following options:

    Meta Description: add the description that will be displayed by the search engines in the search results;

    Page Title and Keywords – leave blank;

    URL Key: add as many keys as possible in this line. Many professional SEO specialists advise to use such words as "the", "the", "for";

    Product Optimizations: here you can add descriptions for your products;

    Template Optimization: you can leave this line as it is, since it is already fully optimized for being recognized and indexed by various search engines.

    Configuration of robots.txt file

    Now there is the last step to be made for maximum optimization of your Magento web store. We advise you to use the file with the following content:

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /index.php/
    Disallow: /*?
    Disallow: /*.js$
    Disallow: /*.css$
    Disallow: /checkout/
    Disallow: /tag/
    Disallow: /catalogsearch/advanced/
    Disallow: /review/
    Disallow: /app/
    Disallow: /downloader/
    Disallow: /js/
    Disallow: /lib/
    Disallow: /media/
    Disallow: /*.php$
    Disallow: /pkginfo/
    Disallow: /report/
    Disallow: /skin/
    Disallow: /var/
    Disallow: /customer/
    Disallow: /catalog/
    Allow: /catalogsearch/result/?q
    

     

    Naturally, for each web store this file will have a different description, you can change robots.txt any moment you need. After this file is created it should be uploaded to the site root directory on the hosting server.

    Please share your recommendations and feedbacks regarding Magento sites optimization. You may contact GoMage specialists if you need any assistance. Please also review Magento extensions that we offer.

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