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The Joys of Designing A Gift Basket Website

The Joys of Designing a Gift Basket Website (PART 1)

The Basketsgalore website is based on the Magento platform, and has been heavily modified to suit the needs of our customers. Like all things internet, it is a work in progress and may not be suitable for new start companies. Ten years ago, Basketsgalore was built using Dreamweaver and there was no back end content management system. Nowadays there are many off-the-shelf CMS website templates.

The objective of Basketsgalore is to sell the best Gift Baskets in the world and in doing so create the best possible shopping experience for our customers.
Over the past year as we have rolled out a succession of improvements, our site has attracted the attention not only of our competitors in our industry but from companies in other sectors. We rely on the work of others online with their hints and tips when we meet what are seemingly intractable problems, so on this basis we’re sharing our experiences in the hope that at some point in the future.

1) Refreshing the cache:
This is one of the very first things I imagine anyone learns when using Magento that fixes 99% of problems is refreshing the cache.
To refresh the cache go to System > Cache management and change ‘All Cache’ from No change to Refresh.

2) Another very useful thing to know how when you first start using Magento is the tips feature. When trying to change certain features on the first website there was quite a lot of trouble locating the files which were bringing the pages together.
To activate tips, go to system > Configuration. Make sure you select the website you wish to change under ‘Current Configuration Scope’ (otherwise you’ll add tips to all of your websites, which you really don’t want), and go down to Developer at the bottom of the side bar.
Under debug, change ‘Template Path Hints’ and ‘Add Block names to Hints’ to yes, and click save. This will bring up the file paths on the web page you are working on. To turn it off, simply go back to the same place and turn the hints off and save.

3) Finding things in Magento can be a nuisance. When starting using the program, you may only edit the main content on the index page. This is easily found by going to CMS > Manage pages and then searching for the store and page you want. This is perfectly fine until you want to change an image on a category page and you can’t find the category page you needed anywhere. However, what you must remember is that category pages are set up in the back end of magento, but that they are brought together via php via the ftp.
Also remember that Magento is similar to wordpress, in that all the elements on the screen are separate files that are all brought together using one php file. The tips feature in Magento, when it’s enabled will tell you where the files were being drawn from and you can then change them.

4) When changing the look of a website in Magento, you are no doubt going to need to go into the files via ftp. Theres only ever going to be 2 places you use in the ftp when styling magento - App and Skin.

lets start with the Skin folder. In public_html > Magento > Skin > front end> default, and inside your chosen website folder, you’ll find a number of files and folders related to your website. This is where you will store all your websites images, as well as your css. You will only ever change the CSS files in this directory. You can only change the content via the magento backend or through the php files in app.

moving to the app folder go to Public_html > Magento > app > design > front end > default > your chosen website > template. In this folder you will find lots of folders from different sections of your website. This end of magento can look very confusing at first, but the more you use magento’s tips feature, which will locate where an element is situated for you in this section of the ftp, you’ll soon become more and more familiar. The hard part is working out the php!

Hopefully these experiences over the past week will assist others as they develop their websites. If you use Magento, there are serious obstacles that you have to overcome, which are well documented online. The above are merely our practical experiences of our work with the platform and how it relates to our little Gift Basket company in the UK and Ireland.

BG

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