Horrible or Awesome #1 – Leave the layout stock

Leave the layout stock

Because after all, if it wasn’t the best layout of all time then why did they distribute it as ‘stock’ in the first place? Never mind that your site will look like every other lazy guy who decided that product presentation was overrated. Never mind that it has no flow, coherence, or style. And totally forget that it makes you look like some high school kid in your basement trying to take their money and run.

Lack of design talent? We understand. After all, if you could make nice websites, you wouldn’t be trying to sell whatever it is you make online – you would be selling nice websites.

Never mind that you can get ready made, beautiful drop in designs. Nevermind that the fine folks of the osCommerce community have made a number of easy to understand template systems that cut out nearly 100% of the PHP programming and let you design your site in a simple, free HTML editor. You picked a FREE cart, and darnit it’s going to be free if it kills you (or your chances for success). Those people that say you have to spend money to make money are all full of garbage…

Does that sound like you? Now read on…

Ok guys, nobody says you have to go buck wild with the layout, change the layouts of the columns and headers, and try to switch osCommerce over to a pure CSS XHTML Valid masterpiece. However, I think everyone will agree that the osCommerce stock blue-gray color info boxes just don’t work with every product. So what can you do?

Edit the Stylesheet! It’s called stylesheet.css, and it’s right in your catalog root folder. The cool thing is, you can change colours just by replacing their hex code (like #FFFFFF) with a word like “blue” if you don’t know color hex codes! This is the most drop dead simple way of getting away from stock without design changes. Change your colors! Please!

Want to change it even more but don’t know how? Download and install a Template System contribution.

There will be purists like myself who will say ‘Template systems are bad’ and ‘Template systems break compatibility with future versions’ and ‘Template systems are the devil’. It does not matter – pound for pound, a template system like STS or BTS is going to improve the visual layout of your store and make it more pleasing to the customers eyes if you have little or no design or php experience. What both of these systems do is give you just one page to edit plain HTML in, and it ‘skins’ the entire osC site.

BTS contribution. STS contribution. The great thing about the template systems is that there are numerous free templates that other community members have made available in the contributions section. Just search the contributions for ‘template’ and I am sure you will find them.

Changing the stock buttons is another quick and easy way to update the look of your cart. In the contributions section there is a variable cornucopia of free button sets that community members have uploaded for your use. Just check the ‘Image Contributions’ section for button sets, or see my previous post about an online button generator that I found.

Another option is to purchase a commercial template, and of course, I made another post offering just that. This is the quickest and easiest way to give your Shop a whole new look in seconds.

Did you enjoy reading this? Did the first part really hit home?

What are you going to do about YOUR shop and YOUR customer experience?

Most of this post is courtesy of my good friend Jason over at JC Commerce.

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