Archive for July, 2009

If you are building a zen cart website design on your own, you should create your design in what we call an “overrides” directory for zen cart.

Zen cart comes out of the box with a “Classic Contemporary Green” template, as well as template default files. When creating a new template set, it is always best to use the template default files and copy them into your overrides directory. When building zen cart websites, we most usually name the overrides directory “custom” but you can name it anything you want.

The reason we create overrides directories is so that during your design work, if you should “break” the code in a file, you have not revised a core file and you can easily download that core file back into your overrides directory and start over again if needed.

The steps to take in creating a template are as follows:
1. Create a folder named custom under includes/templates

2. Take the following folders from the includes/templates/template_default folder and copy them into the includes/templates/custom folder you just created:
–templates (create this directory but do not download all the files into it – you should only use this folder if there are customizations to the template files that you can copy individually into this folder if needed.)

3. Copy the includes/templates/template_default/template_info.php file down into the includes/templates/custom folder and edit that file changing the top line to say custom template instead of default template – and edit the other information as you see fit.

4. Upload all these folders onto the server

5. Log into your zen cart admin area and mouse over the word Tools and click on Template Selection.

6. Choose Custom Template from the drop down menu and then click on the update button

7. Next go to Tools> Layout boxes controller and activate the boxes that you will need for your new template

8. From here, the balance of the work is to change the stylesheet.css to meet your needs, upload a new logo.gif that you have created for your website and change any other graphics – such as the tile_back.jpg file to match your color scheme.

Defining Option Names:There are 3 parts to attributes:

  • Option Name
  • Option Value
  • Attribute on the product

Admin -> Catalog -> Option Name Manager



a) Order (This is the sort order the Option Name displays on the screen.)

b) Select an Option Type:

  • Dropdown (note when only 1 option value this will automatically be switched to a Radio Button and later when more than one value it will automatically switch to the dropdown)
  • Radio Button
  • Checkbox
  • TEXT (this does not get an Option Value)
  • FILE (This does not get an Option Value)
  • READONLY (this is for display purposes only and is not part of a calculation nor does it appear on the order. It is more or less an informational attribute that can be used with 1 to many products and then changed once to change on all products.)

On some Option Names, based on the Type … there are more settings if you Edit the Option Name:

For Option Type TEXT:

  • Comments
  • Max Display Size (size of input box on screen)
  • Max Length (max number of characters/spaces)

For Option Type Radio buttons and checkboxes:

  • There are choices of image layout

Defining Option Values

Catalog ... Option Value Manager

a) Pick the Option Name
b) Give a Name like Red
c) Give a default Sort Order

The sort order is used if you want to globably sort your Option Values to match otherwise you can set these manually per product or later update a product, category or whole store.

Attributes Controller

Now … you should have made several Option Names like …

  • Color
  • Size
  • etc.

And then set the Option Values for these like:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Brown
  • Black
  • White


  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • X-Large
  • X-Small

Using the Default Sort Order on these values will help you later in getting them into a nice display on the pages.

Adding the Attributes to the Products
So now to add them to the products.
This is done via the Attributes Controller

a) Select a Product to add Attributes to
You can look up a product in a couple ways …

– Either pick a Category or a Product
– When you pick a category, the ones with a * have products in them and this will display the first product Previous/Next
– When you pick a product,  click display … this sets the category to this product’s master category id … so you can now use the Previous/Next if you like.

b) Add the Attribute Option Name+Value Pairs
Once the Product is displayed that you want to add attributes to … go to the Add Attributes box
– The Product Name should already be selected.

1. Now select the Option Name

2. Next select a matching Option Value, notice they say what kind of Option Type you have selected.  ie:  Blue [COLOR]
You will notice the Option Values say their names and next to them the Option Name that they match to.

3. Depending on what you want to do with attributes there are several methods to price, add weight, sort order, and mark the type of attribute this is.

Price can be entered with a prefix of + or – or blank.

+ and blank will add the attribute price
– will subtract the attribute price

Weight can be entered optionally if it effects the product weight with a prefix of + or – or blank.

+ and blank will add the attribute weight
– will subtract the attribute weight

There are other pricing options also available besides the standard prices.

  • One Time Charge
  • Price Factor
  • One Time Charge Price Factor
  • Attirbute Qty Price
  • One Time Attribute Qty Price
  • For TEXT
  • Price per word and free words
  • Price per letter and free letters

4. Then there are the Attribute Flags in the colored boxes.
These are used to help distinquish other features of the attribute such as:

  • Use for display only (attribute cannot be selected and added to cart. Good for things like “Select from Below” to force the customer to make their own choice and not just hit Add to Cart and get a pink snail instead of a blue snail.
  • Attribute is Free when product is Free (Some products you may set to Free … but the some attributes are free and some attributes cost money.)
  • Default Attribute (Should be used especially on Radio buttons, or if you have an attribute you prefer the customer selects.)
  • Apply Discounts used by Product Sale/Special (this will apply the same type of discount that the product is getting from the products_price vs the special or sale price.)
  • Include in Base Price (when products are priced by attributes mark the attributes include in base price then the lowest price in each Option Name group are added together to make up the product price. NOTE: when not the product is not marked priced by attribute this setting has no effect on the price.)
  • Attribute Required for TEXT (Some text is required text and cannot be left blank by the customer.)

5. If this attribute is a downloadable file, enter the filename.

6. Be sure to click Add to add the newly-defined Attribute.
You can always edit or delete them after adding.

When done … you can update the sort orders for the product to the Option Value sort order by pressing the button at the top of the page.

This tutorial written by: Ajeh – Linda McGrath

Over the years, I have told clients that they can have the most beautiful or professional looking web site on the internet, and it does them no good at all unless they can get people to VISIT their website.

So.. how do you get people to visit your web site that has been so nicely designed? There are many many ways to do this, and I would have to write a book in order to explain and list them all (the ones that I KNOW of anyway!). But I can honestly say that there are two very special words that will provide fantastic results for getting people to your website … the two magic words are ACTIVE CONTENT.

Having a wordpress blog as an integral part of your web presence, is one of the best ways to get that active content going. Have you ever heard the phrase “content is king”? Well, this is a very popular phrase that search engine optimization specialists will use to let you know that the content on your website is very important for the search engine spiders.

This probably goes without saying but I will say it anyway.  It really does no good for us to install Word Press and design you a professional wordpress template, if you are not going to do anything with it. It is recommended that you add to your web site frequently – either weekly or better yet – daily if possible.

This is because search engines like google and yahoo want to see fresh information on web sites.  As they visit your site and see that there is active content, they will continue to visit, index pages and rank those pages.

It is important to note that if you have a website about apples, you certainly don’t want to be adding posts to your website about…. say grapes… because not only are the search engines looking for active content, they are also looking for key words – and how many times you use those keywords (called keyword density) in the text of your wordpress website.

Take advantage of having a wordpress website by utilizing some of the the vast amount of plugins and tools that have been written.

And most importantly remember that content is king and wordpress is one of the easiest solutions for you as a website owner to capitalize on supplying that active content to your customers and the search engines!

As e-commerce website designers, we are constantly looking at various shopping carts and evaluating them to see how they compare to the zen cart ecommerce shopping cart.  As you look for an ecommerce website solution, we recommend that you, at the very least, evaluate the following for your ecommerce solution:

  1. Cost.  Many shopping carts are not offered as open source software like zen cart is.  So, you will pay for the actual software, then pay for a designer that might happen to know how to design a site using that software, and then sometimes you will pay extremely high fees each month in order to host the website and maintain that software.  A designer may charge $5,000 and UP to design a website using these programs.  As zen cart web design experts, we charge a nominal fee to get your web site on the internet, completely configured and ready to start selling!
  2. Ease of use for the administrator.  Many shopping carts will look “impressive” on the outside, but when you get into the back end of things and try to actually run the site, you are at a complete loss as to what to do.  With zen cart, the administration area of your website is laid out in an understandable fashion and once the site is designed, basically all the owner of the store needs to do is process their orders that come in!
  3. User Friendly for your customer.  If you have shopped on the internet, you have surely seen websites that you actually “get lost” in.  I, personally, get irritated if I have to push that darn “BACK” button to find the page I was previously on.  Some times stores will have so many things going on with the site, that it is hard to focus on what you need to do or where the info is that you are needing.  Most sites using zen cart as their ecommerce solution, have menus either on the top, bottom or sides of the pages that remain constant, so your customer never gets “lost”.
  4. Additional Functionality and Flexibility.  Sometimes you can have what you think is the most wonderful shopping cart system in the world – but when it comes down to customizing that shopping cart, say… by adding a special report for sales taxes, exporting your product line into an Excel spreadsheet, making your pictures enlarge and pop up when moused over or clicked… you are just out of luck!  Because of zen cart’s popularity as an open source shopping cart system, there are many programmers who have written modifications that extend the already powerful functions of zen cart.  Hundreds of modifications have been written that will most likely give you exactly what you are looking for in adding more functions to your zen cart ecommerce store!