One of the great things about Associate-O-Matic is just how much of it can be customized. Unlike many scripts that usually end up looking alike (Ocommerce, for one), AOM can be transformed in a multitude of ways. Which brings me to…
Tip #4: Custom headers. AOM’s custom page feature is great if you want to incorporate different content into your online shop. But what about the other way around? What if you have an existing forum, blog or other website, and want your store to match?
Usually, a site will have some sort of header (at the top, natch), with a distinctive logo, navigation menu, or other bits & pieces. And these will generally be found on every page of the site. AOM allows you to use an external header file to give your online shop a similar look.
It’s easy to add it in – under the Site tab of the control panel, look for Site Header. Enter the URL of your custom header file. There’s also a spot for a custom footer if you have a similar file for the bottom of your site. If you use a header file, AOM will by default not include header information. Therefore you have to include certain essential components into your custom file. These include, in order:
- <html> – The HTML declaration. A closing tag (</html>) is included at the end of the AOM page (or should be in your footer file, if you use one)
- <head> – A HEAD tag, along with a closing tag. Important things such as <script> or <style> files are located in the head section.
- <body> – After the BODY tag comes all the parts of a website you normally see, such as the html that sets up the page, including the menus, images, etc. Again, a closing tag is at the end of the page (before the closing body tag).
AOM does include some helpful bits of code to carry info from the control panel into your header file:
- For the title, it’s <title><?php echo $page[‘Title’]; ?></title > in the <head> section. This puts the name of your store in the top of the browser.
- Use <meta name=”description” content=”<?php echo $page[‘MetaDescription’]; ?>“> for your meta description. This will include a description of your site which may be visible when the site is bookmarked, etc. Also in the head section.
- Put <meta name=”keywords” content=”<?php echo $page[‘MetaKeywords’]; ?>“> again in the head section to include your keywords.
All of these have varying degrees of Search Engine importance, plus they make it easier for browsers and spiders to navigate your site. These code snippets are also available in the AOM documentation – Go to the AOM site, then Support> Documentation> Advanced.
Once you have a structure in place, you can write some html code, usually in table form, to place your header logo (if you have one), navigation menu (if you don’t want to use the default AOM ones), and anything else you want to have at the top of your page. You shouldn’t have to close the table, since it’s picked up in the AOM code. This is just a rough outline, since every site will be slightly different, but it should at least give you a general idea of what you’ll need to make sure your store will be functional and easier to index.