If you want to customize your online Magento store, you need to understand that there are certain complexities involved in the process, and secondly, you will need to adopt a step-by-step approach for the same. There are plenty of things that you need to consider for Magento customization, so without wasting time, let’s take a look at them:
To get started on Magento customization you first need to download .zip or the .targz file from Magentocommerce.com, and decompress it. Once this is done, upload your Magento web files to your web server using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). You will also need to make a MySQL database user name and password for Magento.
Also, all your files such as Magento/var/.htaccess; directories like Magento/app/etc. and every directory under Magento/Media must be writable by the web server. For this to happen, use the FTP client to navigate to the directory. Once this is done, go through the Magento installation wizard using your web browser, and begin configuring the various system-level settings that are a prerequisite for Magento to function.
2. Design Preparation
Your ecommerce site will need CMS pages; also you will need to design the products listing pages w.r.t to the product filtering (whether you want to pick the grid view or list view); how are you are going to display the price, rating and other features, deliberate on it; the product view page also needs to be designed keeping in mind all the pertinent information that needs to be presented; the checkout process should also be at the top of your mind while designing the various pages and so should the login/register page and the user account page.
Better to prepare the design of all pages in Photoshop.
3. Converting PSD design to Magento Theme
If you have designed all your pages in Photoshop, you will have to integrate all your .PSD files into the Magento theme. There are some factors that you need to keep in mind here:
ü All your important pages need to be prepared using PSD sketches
ü Don’t forget to sketch a design for the 404 page
ü .PSD files have clearly defined layers
ü The Favicon or the Favorites Icon needs to be designed.
ü You must also decide on the non-standard fonts you plan to use, it’s advisable that you use licensed fonts for this purpose.
ü Also make sure that you have a placeholder image for your product and not use the default Magento image
ü And lastly, it’s a prerequisite that you have a store logo that is in printable format, as this will help all your documents like invoices and even emails have your company logo on it; this improves credibility as it looks more professional.
4. Product Feed and Content Feed
This is the step wherein you decide the kind of product images and relevant content that needs to be displayed on the product pages.
Here again, the kind of product page that you choose will decide its image and content, so let’s take a look at the kind of product pages available:
ü Simple Product Pages
ü Simple Product Pages with custom Options
ü Grouped Product Pages
ü Bundle product pages and “Bundle” with options
ü Configurable product pages and “Configurable” with options
ü Downloadable product pages and “Downloadable” with
ü Virtual product pages and “Virtual” with options
In each page type, the page view is different and therefore the placement of the ‘buy button’ will be different. While choosing the page type, you need to keep in mind the needs of your target audience; so if you think they want all products of a particular product group to be presented in the same page, then a Grouped Product Page will be the right option; if you think giving them more options allowing them to choose the right product is a good idea then a Configurable product page is the right choice; so on and so forth.
5. Make it SEO Friendly
A website is a good as its SEO, so make sure that you have made it Magento SEO friendly. For this, you first need to enable SEO through the Magento Admin. Here are some things that you need to do next:
ü Give a title to each page, this title should be relevant
ü Write quality content
ü Use targeted keywords in content, but keep their use to a minimum and within acceptable limits
ü Keep your URLs short
ü One H1 heading per page
ü Create sitemap and submit to search engines
ü Internal linking of pages is a good idea
ü Use Image Alt tags to optimize images
ü Use Robots.txt
6. Translation, Extension Configuration
Translation: Make sure that your website is Multilanguage compatible so users from anywhere in the world will be able to understand it. For this, you will need to enable language translation in Magento. This can be done by visiting Magento’s translation page, and downloading and installing any language pack that you want. You can also offer inline translations, or even set up store view in the different languages you want to support.
Extensions: There are plenty of great extensions on offer, but you need to choose the one that best fits in with your requirements. You must choose them with due care as they might conflict or might affect your store with a bug.
Email Template Configuration: Templates can be easily edited using the Magento Admin Interface, so you can do it yourself; but use a developer to ensure that your logo is just where you want it to be, and that the email uses the perfect language.
7. Payment Gateway Configuration
You can choose from a variety of major payment gateways like Authorize.net, Payflo Pro etc.; or you can even choose alternative payment methods like PayPal, Amazon or Google.
You can also configure payment options, wherein a customer can pay via check/money order, or purchase order. Go through Magento Connect to get an idea of all the available options.
n The Checkout Process
There are two parts of a checkout page; the first part is about showing shoppers their checkout progress and the second is the ‘main content of the checkout page, this includes checkout methods, billing information, shipping information, shipping methods, payment information and order review.
8. QA and Testing
After all the hard work you have put in to customize your Magento Site, you don’t want to end up with a site that this if full of bugs and defects. This is why it’s important that you take the site through thorough testing and assure yourself of the quality of the website.
While testing, you must ensure that the shopping cycle is functioning smoothly, and there are zero problems in the checkout process.
Choose a hosting solution that has zero downtime, is reliable and meets the highest standards of safety. What’s more, your ecommerce site needs all the safety it can get and therefore you can integrate security protocols like SSL, HTTPS; another thing, you also need a backup system in place, which backs up all your data in a secure location.
Nothing more needs to be said, your website is finally ready for launch.