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Custom Pages: A Users Guide

Custom Pages: A Users Guide

There have been a lot of comments lately about having a detailed user’s guide to some AOM features. This blog has always been intended to a general guide, but perhaps a somewhat sharper focus is needed. As I find time (somehow) to knock them out, maybe they can be assembled into a definitive Associate-O-Matic User’s Guide. We’ll start with Custom Pages.

Custom Pages are designed to take almost any external content you may have, and ‘wrap’ your AOM store around it. Common uses are pages for things like ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘Links’, ‘Privacy Policy’, etc. But you’re certainly not limited to those examples. In discussing how to set up a CP, I’ll use an ‘About Us’ page to illustrate general concepts that apply to whatever kind of content you want to use.

cuspg1Under the Custom Pages tab of your Control Panel, you will see an ‘Add ___ pages’ area in the bottom left corner, as shown in ex.1. Enter a ‘1’ in this box and click on the ‘Go’ button. This will open an information box for your custom page. Note that you can enter a number larger than ‘1’, which will open the corresponding number of info boxes. However, if you try to save without entering at least the ID, the box will be removed.

In the information box, you enter the following:

  • Page Type: You have three types to choose from –
  1. Raw HTML – Basically, anything that’s not PHP or RSS. It can be HTML, or just text, or a combo of the two.
  2. HTML/PHP – Use this if you plan to link to an external HTML or PHP file.
  3. RSS Feed – Select this if you want to have an external RSS/XML feed on your custom page.
  • Page ID: This is the name of your page. Use a single word, no spaces or odd characters. In this example, we’re using ‘aboutus’.
  • Title: Enter the title that will display at the top of your browser. It’s best to make it match the other titles on your site. So if your home page is Mysite.com – The best place on the web for whatever I’m selling here, put something like Mysite.com – About Us in this box.
  • Meta Keywords: Place any relevant keywords to this page here.
  • Meta Description: Put a relevant description of this page here.
  • Cache: If this is checked, this page will be cached. Uncheck this box if the content of this page changes a lot, like an RSS feed. If it’s a page that won’t change, like our About Us example, you can leave it checked.
  • Tab: Check if you want this page displayed as a tab on the top of your site. Note that it will use the Title description for the tab.
  • Order: This will control where the page is displayed in relation to your other categories. More important with custom boxes than pages, unless you have the Tab box checked as well.
  • Page Content: If you have Raw HTML selected in the Page Type above, enter your HTML or text, etc. in the large box (which will get larger when you click in it). Anything you enter in this box will become part of your cfg.saved.php file, containing all your control panel entries. Using symbols (like ©) or non-standard characters may cause an XML parser error. If you’ve selected HTML/PHP, enter the file path or URL of the external file here (like www.mysite.com/aboutus.html). If the file is in the same directory as your shop.php file, you may be able to enter just the file name (aboutus.html). For an RSS feed, enter the URL to the external feed here, with the content type set to RSS Feed.

Here is an example (ex.2) of a completed information box:
cuspg4
A common question that arises is: Which is better, using the ‘Raw’ setting, or having the content in an external file?

I am of the opinion that an external file is better. It keeps your cfg.saved.php file from becoming bloated, esp. if you have a lot of pages, or large amounts of content. Also if your control panel file crashes for whatever reason, you won’t lose the data for your external pages, making it that much less to have to restore later. And you can standardize your pages if you want to use them for multiple sites. Then all you have to do is copy the external file to the new store directory, and set up the custom page. Done.

Once you have your Custom Page set up, what about the link? The basic link structure consists of your store URL, plus /shop.php?a=pageid (with pageid being whatever you put in the Page ID box when you set up the page, as mentioned above). In our example, the Page ID is aboutus, so our link would be:

http://www.mysite.com/shop.php?a=aboutus
Of course, if you have renamed your shop.php file to index.php or something else, you would substitute that in the link.

If you are using the SEO section of your Control Panel (Full and 30-day Trial users only), and have your mod_rewrite rules installed in an .htaccess file, you can use a different format. The rulesets use a parameter labeled as page (which you can rename to almost anything you want by editing the rulesets. But home, reviews and buy are used by other features, so those are not allowed). Also, the rulesets vary with regards to using a hypen or an underscore, and having an .html ending or not. With Ruleset #1 being the most common, and the default setting in the Control Panel, the format would be your URL, plus /page-pageid.html (again, with pageid being what you entered in the Page ID box). So this gives you:

http://www.mysite.com/page-aboutus.html
And of course, different rulesets would give you different variations of this example, such as http://www.mysite.com/page_aboutus.html, http://www.mysite.com/page-aboutus, http://www.mysite.com/page_aboutus, etc.

Below is an Information box (ex.3), showing the non-SEO and the SEO versions of the same link:

cuspg5
This should pretty well cover the basics of setting up Custom Pages. Hopefully I can knock out more explanations to other AOM features as time allows.

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One thought on “Custom Pages: A Users Guide

  1. deadmanblogging

    Great how-to, thank you. I always found the addition of custom pages to be a bit cumbersome, thanks for the straight forward directions.

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