The Home Page of your Associate-O-Matic site is usually the first page your customers will see. It sets a tone for the rest of your store, and must make visitors want to stay, explore, and hopefully buy. A home page that sets a poor example will almost certainly not succeed. It is your first impression, and you have to make it count. So let’s explore the options available under the Home Page tab of the control panel.
The home page can utilize one of several built-in formats, which may or may not be suitable for your site. The formats include:
- Single Item
- Browse Node
- ASIN List
- Custom HTML
- HTML/PHP File
There are examples of each style available in your control panel, which you can view by clicking on the thumbnail images located under the Home Page tab. Most of these will also have various settings and options associated with them there as well. To start off with is the Mall setting.
Mall: It’s simply a list of categories in your site, arranged in a column format, with a few default subcategories included underneath the main category name. If you have non-standard categories, such as based on a subcategory node or an ASIN list, there will be no subcategories shown under the category name. The same holds true if you use custom subcategories. You can edit the list of subcategories shown from the cfg.default.php file located in the /aom directory folder. Note however that unless you know what you’re doing, damage to this file could seriously impair the operation of your site. Also, any changes to this file are not carried over in an upgrade; they are overwritten with the default settings of the new version of the file. So any changes you make would have to be redone.
You can display icons next to your category names with this setting. It requires turning on the Category Icons setting under the Categories tab. Then you would need to rename the icons located in the /aom/images folder to include your category ID. For example, if you have an Apparel category, and the category ID from the Categories tab is app, then you would need to rename the icon_Apparel.gif image to icon_app.gif instead.
To use a custom image in place of the default one, you would rename the custom image to icon_app.gif and place it in the /aom/images folder. The image would then display next to the category name.
Blended: This page mode will display one, two or three items (if available) from your main store categories (node-based only; not ASIN lists or Blended categories). If your categories are made up of subcategories of a main category, what you see may be somewhat underwhelming.
For example, if you have categories such as Xbox, Playstation, PC Games and Nintendo, Blended mode would possibly only display three items in total for these four categories, since they’re all subcategories of PC & Video Games. But if you have Books, Electronics and PC & Video Games, you may get up to three items from each category.
The Blended option requires a Site Default Keyword (or SDK) to search against; this is set under the Site tab. This should be no more than one or two words, such as “Star Wars” or “Dogs” (minus the quotes); don’t use “Hans Solo Darth Vader Luke Chewie R2-D2 George Lucas” or “Man’s Best Friend Who Is Not A Cat”. Keep it as simple as possible.
You select the maximum number of items to display from each category (up to three) with the Home Blended Count option under the Home Page tab.
Single Item: Fairly self-obvious. Displays a single item on the home page. You need to enter the ASIN of the product in the Home Item box (Home Page tab).
Browse Node: In this option, you select one of the categories from your site to feature on your home page. This is done with the Home Node item under the Home Page tab. Once you select the category, you can replace the default node with a subcategory node, and use keywords to filter the results. It basically allows you to duplicate the setup you may have under the Categories tab. So if your store niche is a certain book subcategory, you can keep the same focus on your home page as well.
Note that the maximum number of items that can be displayed is 10; this limit is set by Amazon in their data feed and cannot be increased within AOM.
ASIN List: This allows you to display up to ten hand-picked items. Enter a list of comma-separated ASINs into the Home ASINs box under the Home Page tab. If your list includes more than 10 items, only the first 10 will be displayed. But if the Home ASINs Randomizer is set to on, then the first ten items will be replaced by a random selection of up to ten items from the entire list. The display is rotated whenever the cache is refreshed.
Custom HTML: Most of the previous options utilize Amazon product in their display. With this setting, you can include instead almost any HTML you want – Images, text, tables, etc. You can embed video, flash, links, or nearly anything you might include on a typical web page. Place the code in the Home HTML box under the Home Page tab. Note that you cannot use PHP here, as it will not be processed.
HTML/PHP File: Similar to the Custom HTML option above, but instead of entering the code directly, you would link to an external file containing the HTML or PHP you wish to locate on your home page. The link to the file you want must be placed in the Home File box under the Home Page tab. If the external file is in the same directory as your shop.php file, you may be able to enter just the filename (such as ‘custom.html’ or ‘homefile.php’, etc.). But if the file is located elsewhere, you may need the entire URL; ‘http://www.mysite.com/files/custom.html’, or ‘http://www.myothersite.com/homefile.php’.
There are also two more boxes under the Home Page tab that allow you to further customize the appearance of your home page, and can be used with any of the options listed above:
Home Welcome HTML: Similar to the Custom HTML feature shown previously, you can place HTML code in this box that will be displayed at the top of the body section of your home page. However this can be used with any home page setting (Mall, Blended, Single Item, etc.).
Home Welcome File: And like the HTML/PHP File option discussed above, you can place a link to an external file that will appear at the top of the body section of your home page. It can also be used with any other home page setting (Mall, Blended, Single Item, etc.).
So if you’re setting up a site, you may want to experiment with different home page settings and options to see what best suits your store. If you’re handy with code (or know somebody who is), you can achieve amazing and original results; if not, you can still customize the basic layouts to help make your AOM site stand out and get noticed.