Magento Top 10 Things to Know

Magento Top 10 things to know: Magento software has made quite a buzz since the version 1 release in 2008 and revolutionized the world of e-commerce solutions. The reasons for this enthusiasm about Magento websites are numerous, here are 10 of them.

  1. Opensource Software, Solid Company

    Written in PHP, based on the Zend framework, Magento is an opensource solution.
    This means that source code is public: everyone has access to it, for free. Contributions from anyone are welcome and speed of integration of new features is increased, as it was the case for example for VAT management: the first official release was not adapted to European market but the openness of the code helped solving this problem within a few weeks.
    However, Magento was developed by a for-profit company, Varien, ensuring uniformity and consistency in functionality and continuity in developments, with over sixty persons working on it .

  2. Turnkey Software

    Download Magento, unzip the archive on your Apache / PHP / MySql server, run the automatic installation script, go to the admin panel to customize Magento configuration and you're ready to sell!
    Having that done, updating the system when new releases comes out can be easily done by going back to the administration panel, clicking only twice on your mouse, no more.
    Of course, you would still have to customize the look of your store and integrate your catalog content.

  3. Highly Customizable Data Model, Long Feature List

    Whether you are selling shoes, socks, clothes, curtains, wine, hotel rooms or virtual downloadable products, Magento data model is designed and thought to fit your needs, while offering the standard features that you are entitled to expect from an e-commerce website: product customizable attributes (sizes, colors ...), configurable products, Cross-Sell, Up-Sell, et cetera.
    Moreover, version 1.3 introduced the concept of flat catalog that provides an excellent compromise between performance and customizability.
    Among the many standard features available, you will find tools for managing price and promotions.

  4. Advanced Management for Template Design

    Magento Design system allows you to manage the template of your Magento website.
    Supplied with a basic graphic design, Magento allows you to lay out your shop as you want to, while allowing you to benefit from future releases. (See Creating templates for your Magento website.)

  5. Designed for Search Engine Optimization

    Allowing URL rewriting, meta-data fields, Google Site Map management, etcetera, Magento gives you all the tools you need for Search Engine Optimization.
    (See Magento et le référencement naturel)

  6. Global Software

    Thanks to Magento your store is ready for global sales, with the possibility (but not the obligation) to define for each area or country:

    • its own currency,
    • its own language (many languages are available),
    • its own graphic design,
    • its own sub-catalog,
    • its own shipping rules,
    • et caetera .

  7. Payment Modules

    Magento currently knows how to handle over 200 payment systems , including:

    • ATOS / Sips,
    • CyberMUT Paiement / Paiement CIC,
    • [email protected],
    • FIAT-NET ReceiveAndpay,
    • Google Checkout,
    • Ogone,
    • Check,
    • Paybox,
    • PayPal,
    • SPPLUS,
    • et caetera .

    It is also easy to add new ones.

  8. Shipping modules

    Magento currently knows how to handle over 60 shipping systems , including:

    • Free shipping management,
    • Chronospot,
    • Colissimo,
    • DHL,
    • FedEx,
    • TNT, relais colis,
    • UPS,
    • et caetera .

    It is also easy to customize a module to suit your logistical constraints and your pricing policy, or even create new ones.

  9. Connecting to Your System

    Magento provides standard modules import / export that allows you to import files to Magento.
    These modules can be easily automated and customized to fit in your existing system. (See Importing files into Magento)

  10. Robust Software, Reliable Solution

    With today hundreds of e-Store running on Magento , some of which containing over 300,000 records (three hundred thousand) Magento is now recognized as a reliable and trustworthy software, whatever your needs are.

Creating templates for your Magento website

Creating a template for your Magento website is an important step in setting up your online store. Indeed, the visual apect of an e-store is as important as a shopwindow: it is the first thing the would-be customer will see. This shopwindow will retain a customer or on the contrary, make him leave.

(Of course there are other ways to bring prospects directly inside your store, using search engines for instance, but this will described in another article.)

Knowing this, the whole Magento design system was conceived and designed to help you creating pages on your Magento website, organizing them and decorating them as you wish. (And of course without specific developments which would prevent you from installing future Magento releases.)

In order to build a Magento design package, three types of objects are needed:

  1. templates
  2. skins
  3. layouts

Understanding how these three types of objects work together is essential in order to be able to create your deisgn package.


Templates are a set of blocks that will display your shop.

For instance, these blocks will:

  • display a product detail,
  • display the customer shopping cart,
  • display featured products,
  • display navigation menus,
  • display content informations such as "Terms of use",
  • et caetera .

Magento provides a default template that contains a variety of standard blocks. It is possible, using inheritance, to override blocks design, to create new ones, and so on...
Moreover, Magento being based on the Zend Framework, which provides components for the MVC design pattern, the business rules are defined elsewhere, allowing complete independence of your graphic with the core system.


Skins contain all the CSS files of your site and describe how the block should be displayed (colors, images, fonts...). Separated from the templates, it becomes extremely easy to customize the graphic style without changing the blocks.

Changing all or parts of the graphic can be easily achieved, for instance:

  • for specific parts of the website (specific category, refurb ...)
  • for a period of time (Christmas, sales ...),
  • for a particular category of user (committees, VIP ...),
  • et caetera .


Layouts will determine which blocks will appear on which page (catalog page, product page, checkout page, customer account page ...) and define their attributes. In other words, they are the definition of the overall structure of your site. Again, a standard layout is proposed and it is easily customizable.