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  1. #11
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    If you are starting out for the first time on zencart, then it is best to do a fresh install of the latest software (version 1.5).

    By doing this, you will be creating the basic platform on the latest, and safest, version of the software.

    Your FIRST task - (before you worry about colours, logos, styling) - is to get your head round the important FUNCTIONAL aspects of the software, most of which are controlled and configured in the ADMIN panel.

    If you install zencart WITH the demo products loaded, your learning experience is made MUCH easier. Within a week you will have learned many of the important functions, and will then be in a better position to start thinking about design.

    TOO MANY PEOPLE worry about the cosmetics when starting out. It is the FUNCTIONALITY that is most critical in the early stages.

    We always recommend choosing one of the FREE TEMPLATES offered in the Add-On section, because these are generally very compatible with the CORE system. TemplateMonster templates should be avoided, unless you are a PHP guru, and have the skills to unpick the many problems they create.

    ALL the free templates can be re-styled, and radically different "skins" can be created by changing some of the layout settings in the admin panel, a handful of different images, and a few CSS declarations.

    As MOST of the design is governed by CSS, it will be FAR MORE VALUABLE to you that you learn CSS very well, and use browser-based tools like FIREBUG and WEB DEVELOPER TOOLKIT (both for Firefox), to get your head round the CSS styling in zencart.

    You should AVOID commercial templates (in general) and those from places like TenplateMonster and Algozone (and all of their re-sellers) will give you no end of headaches.
    Our latest project is Pet Tags.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    Wow schoolboy. Thank you for that insightful post.
    I've been trying to understand the functionality but it's not easy for newbies. I can find the style sheets for any-one template, but I can't find the "html" file (if they exist at all) for me to manipulate the div tags (if there are any) so I may manipulate the template.
    I've been all in and around the admin panel and I understand the controls; however, they don't exactly tell you how anything actually works. When I try to search Youtube or Google on topics such as "how to edit a zen cart template", majority of the results only try to explain how to install one. Does this website offer resources where i can learn how to make templates (for example, how http://www.w3schools.com/ teaches you different aspects of HTML)?

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Daykeem View Post
    I've been trying to understand the functionality but it's not easy for newbies.
    It *is* a steep learning curve, but once you grasp the concepts things get a lot easier.
    Quote Originally Posted by Daykeem View Post
    I can find the style sheets for any-one template, but I can't find the "html" file (if they exist at all)
    You're right, they don't exist. Zencart, like any other eCommerce software creates its pages 'on the fly'.
    HTML can only be used for simple/static pages that never change content. These really not many of these left around these days.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daykeem View Post
    for me to manipulate the div tags (if there are any) so I may manipulate the template.
    The divs, etc are actually in the template files.
    Quote Originally Posted by Daykeem View Post
    I've been all in and around the admin panel and I understand the controls; however, they don't exactly tell you how anything actually works.
    The admin controls related to the stores *functionality*. You don't need to understand *how* it all works, just accept the fact that it does.

    The *look* of the store is controlled entirely by the template system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daykeem View Post
    When I try to search Youtube or Google on topics such as "how to edit a zen cart template", majority of the results only try to explain how to install one.
    Probably because this is where most people seem to run into problems. Not that it is *difficult* to install them, but a lot of people atttempt to do so using Cpanel (or similar) rather than using an FTP program, resulting in many files in all the wrong places.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daykeem View Post
    Does this website offer resources where i can learn how to make templates (for example, how http://www.w3schools.com/ teaches you different aspects of HTML)?
    There is nothing 'special' about the zencart template files. They are nothing more than regular PHP files. w3schcools (A *highly* recommended souce, BTW) has excellent tutorials for PHP.

    Although it is quite possible to make your own templates 'from scratch', no sensible person will do so. It is akin to re-inventing the wheel.
    What I suggest is that you locate and install one of the free templates that best suits the *layout* of what you want your store to look like, and then customise the colours, fonts using the CSS that is proved with the templates, and needles to say, create you own graphics.

    The only time you'll ever need to know or use PHP is if you wish to make changes to the *layout* provided by the template you've chosen, which often means you didn't choose a suitable one to start with.

    In short, to make a zencart store "your own" you don't need to know HTML or PHP. You'll only need to know how to create graphics, and a *little* bit about CSS, but even with the CSS you don't actually need to know how to create or code them, it is more a matter of identifying the different 'elements' and changing them to suit your own needs.

    Trust me, doing this stuff is actuallly a whole lot easier and will take less 'learning' than how to use all the functions and features of zencart itself.

    Heck, I think I've ended up repeated pretty much everything schoolboy has already told you. This suggests (to me) that you are over thinking things.

    Remember these points:
    Admin controls zencart functionality.
    Templates control the *layout* of the pages (where items are placed on the page and that kind of thing
    css works in conjuction with the templates, but they control the *look* of the pages (colours & fonts).

    Cheers
    Rod

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    Daykeem, if you want a dark template why not take a look at this one by Picaflor Azul:

    http://www.picaflor-azul.com/index.p...ducts_id=14828

    A lot less than TM, are within zencart standards, she actively supports her customers (free templates or commercial) and it looks at least as good, if not better, than the TM one.

    sph
    Last edited by SPH; 24 Apr 2012 at 08:17 AM.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    Rod has given you some good pointers. While a knowledge of HTML will be useful, you need really to get your head around PHP code. There are no "HTML PAGES" in Zencart. As Rod says, the eventual HTML that is delvered to a person's browser screen is built "on-the-fly" by the PHP. The "pages" do not exit until a visitor calls for them:

    EG: When a visitor types in your site URL, they a "calling" for the landing page.

    The PHP software says:
    "Hey... a new visitor! I'd better note down this fact (so it sets a session ID applicable to that user) and I must then assemble the "home page" for them.
    The PHP then gathers up all the components needed to display a "home page". These will include IMAGES, product data, welcome message, header and footer info... It CREATES A BRAND NEW HTML FILE and then it sends this off to the visitor's browser screen.

    When the visitor clicks on a link, that "home page " EVAPORATES FOREVER. It completely disappears. It is "thrown away"...

    ... and a BRAND NEW page is compiled by the PHP, where the contents of the next "page" are determined by what the visitor has clicked on.

    Let's say they click on a product that is featured on the home page.

    The PHP says: "OK... HOW do they want this particular data displayed? I'd better fetch the NAME of the product, the DESCRIPTION of the product, the PRICE of the product, the PICTURE(S) of the product - and all the other components (there can be several HUNDRED on a single page") and it then ASSEMBLES that data according to the WIRE FRAME (the template)... and it "parses" the data into a HTML file, which it then delivers to the browser screen.

    This happens in a matter of milli-seconds.

    Then, the visitor may click the ADD TO CART BUTTON...

    The PHP gets the instruction, and says: "HEY... he want to add this to the cart! I must now temporarily write this data to the database, and go about doing some important calculations (cart total, weight total...) AND I must now build a NEW PAGE showing the visitor what they have in their cart."

    The previous "product page" EVAPORATES.

    A NEW PAGE is built, showing the cart contents... Along the way, some background CALCULATIONS have been done as well, and some temporary data (relating to that session) has been written to the database. (IE: the contents of THAT PARTICULAR VISITOR'S CART).

    AND SO ON IT GOES.

    The TEMPLATE can be looked at as a WIRE FRAME, where certain TYPES of data are configured to appear in certain AREAS of the screen.

    As I said, unless you are VERY SKILLED AT PHP, CSS and MYSQL - and you know zencart inside-out - building your own template will be very, very challenging.

    Your current knowledge of HTML will not help you at all (other than that it makes you appreciate the protocols of a web-page).

    SO... Just use one of the existing free templates, and alter the graphics, the colour scheme and some of the easier CSS commands.

    START SELLING... Which is why you want a eComm website... Worry about "what shade of turquoise" to use later on.

    The FOLLOWING TWO SITES use the SAME BASIC TEMPLATE (yes... the SAME TEMPLATE). All we have done is a few minor alterations.

    officefrog . co . uk
    callmecupcakes . co . uk
    Our latest project is Pet Tags.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    Quote Originally Posted by schoolboy View Post

    TOO MANY PEOPLE worry about the cosmetics when starting out. It is the FUNCTIONALITY that is most critical in the early stages.

    We always recommend choosing one of the FREE TEMPLATES offered in the Add-On section, because these are generally very compatible with the CORE system. TemplateMonster templates should be avoided, unless you are a PHP guru, and have the skills to unpick the many problems they create.

    ALL the free templates can be re-styled, and radically different "skins" can be created by changing some of the layout settings in the admin panel, a handful of different images, and a few CSS declarations.

    As MOST of the design is governed by CSS, it will be FAR MORE VALUABLE to you that you learn CSS very well, and use browser-based tools like FIREBUG and WEB DEVELOPER TOOLKIT (both for Firefox), to get your head round the CSS styling in zencart.

    You should AVOID commercial templates (in general) and those from places like TenplateMonster and Algozone (and all of their re-sellers) will give you no end of headaches.
    Honestly its like a broken record..'dont use a ready made ready to go template, learn css, learn this etc'

    How long do you really think a complete newbie will take to learn html, css etc. 1 month, 2 months, 6 months?? Some of them come on here and have trouble just installing the site in the first place.

    Some people have absolutely zero photoshop skills, they don't even own the program. Saying here is a standard template with just a few alterations is great, but if those alterations are pretty stylised buttons and glossy header, which the person still can't make themselves, their site is not going to look like that.

    To build a slick Zencart, you need to know CSS, a bit of how php works, html, and be proficient in photoshop to make your site compete with other sites in 2012.

    If you're not, use a ready to go template, or use another cart, otherwise you're going to go no-where.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    You are all forgetting one other critical factor in making your own: artistic talent.

    One might be able to quickly make a logo in paint or some other program, maybe some banners, maybe learn enough css to tweak some site colors. But it all will likely look like a four year old's painting that one hangs on the refrigerator door.

    One of my pet peeves is how too many take a decent looking free template, roll up their sleeves, and immediately commence to butcher it. First with a bad logo, which is perhaps the first thing that will bring a site down. Then throw up some bad photos on their new free slider. Yes, one knows more about artistic design and colors than the template designer, so let's begin changing the entire template color scheme. In fact, one knows more about ecommerce design, so let's ask the template designer to help re-arrange the entire free template.

    Too many think they know what they WANT, but not enough understand what they NEED.

    Personally, I've found one of the hardest things is making a logo and decent banner photos. That takes more than just knowing how to operate some photo program. It takes some thought and skill: artistic and marketing.

    With some skill, one can take virtually any free template and turn it in to something better. Because the general layout of the template (or other carts, for that matter) are pretty much the same. Either on, two or three columns (or a combination), a footer area which is one place templates can change, but mostly in the header and any drop down menu is where the greatest difference and look will be.

    But the critical issue is skill, and I mean of the artistic and design talent kind.

    I am a proponent of using the free templates. Wish I had more skill to make my sites better.

    sph
    www.prommart.com
    Just really discovered the free Cherry Zen template, which I think the forerunner of many modern designs. (Most drop the top horizontal nav bar below the logo and put the search area on the right, but that horizontal nav is in many modern templates.)
    Last edited by SPH; 24 Apr 2012 at 05:16 PM.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    Schoolboy, that was a great post and I learned some things: Evaporating.

    But my only real zencart expertise is looking at free templates, and the two you mention are different templates. In the case of Apple Zen (which I've used and my sister still uses on one of her sites), radically different, being somewhat source ordered.

    Apple Zen and I'm discovering with Cherry Zen are more complicated. One does not even just turn off or turn on a column in the admin; have to get in to the css for that.

    sph
    www.prommart.com
    Last edited by SPH; 24 Apr 2012 at 05:57 PM.

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    Quote Originally Posted by SPH View Post
    Schoolboy, that was a great post and I learned some things: Evaporating.

    But my only real zencart expertise is looking at free templates, and the two you mention are different templates. In the case of Apple Zen (which I've used and my sister still uses on one of her sites), radically different, being somewhat source ordered.

    Apple Zen and I'm discovering with Cherry Zen are more complicated. One does not even just turn off or turn on a column in the admin; have to get in to the css for that.

    sph
    www.prommart.com
    Over the years we have learned how to "slice up" templates that we like, and patch the pieces back together, resulting in "hybrid" templates. Callmecupcakes and Officefrog are examples of this approach. But they did start out as fundamentally the "same" basic template. Our guiding principle, however, is to retain all the important FUNCTIONAL elements in zencart. True... Applezen takes away some admin switches (sidecolumns for example) and makes them controllable in the CSS, but the FUNCTION of the sidebars remains true to core.

    I also agree with you about the "artistic talent" issue. I am quite technically skilled on Adobe CS programs (including Photoshop) but I can't design original and classy stuff for toffee... I am just NOT a talented graphic artist.

    Most of the world's really successful online retailers actually have very BASIC site designs (unless they are into some "posh" area of women's fashion - but even then, the really large UK highstreet chains keep their sites very graphically "subdued". They know that the KEY FOCUS must be the product. Go look at the SIZE of the shop logo on AMAZON.COM, WALMART.COM, DIXONS.CO.UK, CURRYS.CO.UK, STAPLES.CO.UK . They are all very tiny... the Amazon logo measures just 50px X 200px.

    These retailers KNOW what matters - the PRODUCTS ! They place HUGE emphasis on product displays and showcasing. They know that people are there for the SOLE REASON to look at the products.

    Nobody goes to Amazon to spend 10 minutes looking at their logo, or their background colors... They go to Amazon to look at PRODUCTS. So these site have very SUBDUED general (corporate) graphics, but the PRODUCT DATA and PRODUCT IMAGERY is very bold, strong and prominent.

    Unfortunately, most "amateur" webshop owners do not understand these important marketing principles, and they design (or try to design) their sites around what THEY like - not what makes good marketing sense.
    Our latest project is Pet Tags.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Using Old Templates On New Versions

    I don't think that most people go to a site to sit back with a coke and bag of pop-corn to watch a slide-show. :) That and the difficulty of making decent slide photos is why I've never used one.

    I understand that the products have to be paramount.

    And I am a huge fan of the less-is-more theory and of all or mostly white sites in general. But all those sites you mention, they also all look good, very good. Great product photos are a given. But also nice supporting banners and colors. With just that, we could all forget about colors: just have a mostly white site with maybe some nice color on the main nav bar and very nice supporting banners. Like this site by one of our competitors (much larger than us): macktakmart . com

    I'm a guy, so what I think looks nice gets constantly voted down from a woman's view point. I feel like Mel Gibson in "What Women Want." I've done some study indicating that the color of a site can affect men and women differently. For me, the default bluish All Business template (which I just came from) and the facebook-like IcAtheme template (which went through my best years) gets the best female feed-back.

    I'm just trying Cherry Zen past couple days, and thankfully it comes with two good "female" colors: Purple/Lavender which I'm using and the Blue version. (I'm also interested in this template because I think it started it all re the horizontal nav layout and I may get in to zencart work.)

    I have never been a fan of background images in general and only put mine up on the new Cherry Zen the other night, to see how it looks. Otherwise, I had an all white background (no img) and very well may return to it soon.

    Suggested logo is only 164x90, but have not yet gotten to that.

    But yes: I'm thinking that an all or mostly all white site is probably the safest...just so it doesn't cross over into boring.

    sph
    www.prommart.com

    PS: Come to think of it, All Business and Cherry Zen were designed by women. Maybe best to go with that for a women's site.
    Last edited by SPH; 24 Apr 2012 at 10:47 PM.

 

 
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