Monday, October 25, 2010

In this Zen Cart tutorial you will learn how to set a category to display on the main page of your Zen Cart ecommerce store instead of the default main page so that your store always opens at that category.

There may be occasions when you want to display a particular category to customers on entering your store instead of the home page.

Consider the following scenarios -

Scenario 1
You run a book store and your most popular category is crime fiction. You decide to increase your sales by greeting customers with this category instead of the usual home page.

Scenario 2
Your picture books sales are flagging and you decide to discount your books by 5% to increase sales. Your category structure is "children's books > picture books". How do you set a subcategory to display on the home page by default?

How do you go about changing your main page to a chosen category? Follow these step by step instructions

  1. Log into the admin page of your Zen Cart store

  2. Open your online catalog and navigate to the category you wish to display on your main page when the customer first arrives. Look at the top of your browser to see what number has been assigned to the category. In this example the category number is 10 but you would use what the actual number is.

    If you wish to use a subcategory then navigate to that subcategory and note the numbers. In this example it is 10_20. 10 being the top category and 20 the number assigned by Zen Cart to the subcategory

  3. Go to Configuration > Layout Settings

  4. Scroll down to the Categories - Always Show on Main Page and set to 1. Click on the update button.

  5. Then just below that line you will see Main Page - Opens with Category. Change that to corresponding number for the category you wish to show on the main page. For instance if your category number is 10 as in the previous example you would enter 10. If you wish to use a subcategory then you would change it to 10_20 in the previous subcategory example. You would of course need to use the correct category number for your store. Remember to click on the update button

  6. Go to the online catalog and click on home and you will see that the main page of your store now opens with listings from your desired category.

In this Zen Cart tutorial I have shown you how to set your Zen Cart store to always open to show a particular category or subcategory. Enjoy!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

In this Zen Cart tutorial article you will learn how to customize the site wide meta tags of your Zencart ecommerce store. This is an action that needs to be taken after installation so that any search engines crawling your site, index the correct site title, site tagline and keywords for your store rather than the default "Zen Cart - The Art of ECommerce" details.

NOTE: This article assumes you have already installed Zen Cart and have an FTP program installed to download and upload files within your site or can access file manager on your server to manage the Zen Cart files of your store.

How to Customize Store Wide Meta Tags on Zen Cart
  1. Go to the home page of your newly installed store catalog and select view source in your browser. In Internet Explorer and Google Chrome you will find this under Tools > View Source

  2. Scan lines 1 to 49. You will notice that there are a lot of references to Zen Cart and online shopping. In this tutorial we will be customizing lines around the 45-47 area so that the information reflects your store and is better SEO optimized

  3. Using FTP download the meta_tags.php file from the includes/languages/english/meta_tags.php directory of your Zencart store

  4. Open the meta_tags.php file using a text editor such as notepad and make the following edits to the file:

    • Page Title

      define('TITLE', 'Zen Cart!');

      Change Zen Cart! to the name of your store eg 'Sue's Bookstore' Take care not to delete any inverted commas. Change the text inside the inverted commas only!

    • Site Tagline

      define('SITE_TAGLINE', 'The Art of E-commerce');

      Change The Art of E-commerce to reflect your store requirements eg New Books at Discount Prices

    • Custom Keywords

      define('CUSTOM_KEYWORDS', 'ecommerce, open source, shop, online shopping');

      Change the keywords ecommerce, open source, shop, online shopping to reflect the business of your store eg bookshop, bookstore, discount books, online bookstore

  5. Save your changes to this meta_tags.php file

  6. Using your FTP program or file manager on your server make a new directory called CUSTOM. If you already have a custom directory with a different name then you can skip this step. Be sure to keep the same naming conventions though throughout. If you don't have the directory create the new directory with the following path:


  7. Now upload the revised meta_tags.php file to this new directory. Please note it is important that you follow this method rather than overwriting the existing meta_tag.php file otherwise when you come to upgrade to a newer version of Zen Cart your file will get overwritten. This way you have all your customized files in a custom directory which is not affected by upgrades.

  8. Refresh the home page of your store and admire the changes you have made by navigating Tools > View Source in your browser.

You now have SEO friendly meta tags that define the site title, site tagline and keywords for your entire site. Making these changes will help your site get properly indexed in search engines like Google.

You will also need to set up meta tags for categories and products on your Zen Cart store. I will be giving you some tips on how to do this in future Zen Cart tutorials so please follow me or add this site to your favorites for more free help in customizing Zen Cart.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It is worth upgrading to the latest version of Zen Cart v1.3.9g ecommerce store to take advantage of the bug fixes particularly if you have a Paypal shipping module installed on your online shop.

The latest release of Zen Cart (v1.3.9g) contains a number of important security fixes so it is advisable to upgrade.

Before upgrading back up. If you have modified any core files you will need to keep a back up of these to avoid deletion in the upgrade process. Of course with the template override system modifying core file is generally unnecessary. Also ensure you back up your database before upgrading. If your store is heavily modified it is advisable to back up all files.

Download Zen Cart v1.3.9g at

Details of changes to Zen Cart v1.3.9g for this release can be found on the Zen Cart Forum

Also note that there is a mistake in the change log documentation. Two additional files were changed that were not recorded:


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