Categories

 Preamble

The concept of categories is a shared concept that applies to all of the components (Catalog, Hot News, FAQ, etc.) of the Actinic system, with the exception of the Real Estate Ads component which has its own classification system.
According to your activity, you will use categories to classify your products, news bits, events, etc. For example, if you use our Bios component for a law office, you will have associate attorneys, attorneys, and paralegals. If you use the same component for a sports club, you can branch your elements out into logical groups: players, trainers, administrative managers, etc.

You can also use categories to classify elements in the administration of your site. The image gallery or the user file can be classified using categories. This practice is, in fact, highly recommended. Note that the components used in the administration of your site only support one level of categories (therefore, they do not support subcategories).

Later on in this guide, we will focus particularly on the categories of a product catalog. However, all of the information and guidelines given here can be transposed to the other components.
 
 Why use categories?

Categories allow you to organize the information that is available to your visitors.
Using categories is not mandatory and depends on the size of your catalog. It is absolutely unnecessary to use categories if you have very few items. Doing so can unnecessarily slow down browsing. On the other hand, if you have a large catalog, categorizing it becomes pertinent in order to simplify browsing and item searches. Setting up categories can take place at any time during the existence of your site. You can start without categories and reorganize your site as you progress in the development of your catalog.
 
 Be consistent from the get go

In order to save time later and to avoid becoming deadlocked, it is essential that you take great care in maintaining homogeneity and setting up the tree structure of your categories. Always draw up an outline before starting to create categories. Look around (other sites, paper catalogs, etc.) and, if possible, get inspiration from existing catalogs. Chances are that others have already pondered the subject. You should also think about the evolution of your site: if you know that your catalog is going to evolve in a certain direction, make choices now that will allow you to easily reorganize in the future. Always try to put yourself in the buyer's position and try to find the most logical organization for your products.
 
 Creating categories

To create categories, go to the administration page of the component and click on the "Category - Edition" tab. You then have access to the page allowing you to create, organize and delete your categories for this component.
When choosing the name of your categories, try to use names that are short and precise.
A category can also be associated to an image and a description. These properties are not mandatory but allow you to later benefit from automated layouts, which can save a considerable amount of time.
When defining your categories, you must start by defining the main categories that will serve as root categories. Afterwards, you can "go down" in each category to create associated subcategories. You can later move categories or branches in your tree structure if you need to reorganize.

IMPORTANT: NEVER put HTML code in the category names.
 
 Associating products with categories

Once your categories are created, you must associate your items to these categories.
To do so, go to the edition of a product file and consult the section entitled "Category Classification". Here you have the possibility to define the category or categories where you product will be displayed. We bring your attention to the fact that you have the possibility of classifying a product into several categories (3 maximum). This can be very useful for displaying the same product in several different categories! Let's take the example of a USB flash drive that offers the functions of an MP3 player. This product could be listed in a classic tree structure, such as Computers\Storage\USB Flash Drives, but could also appear in another branch, such as Electronics\MP3 players\Flash Drive-Based.

Consider: Your tree structure is a tree with main branches (categories) and secondary branches (subcategories). The leaves (your products) are naturally attached to a branch. The Actinic system allows you to do the unthinkable: to link a leaf to 1, 2 or even 3 different tree branches! Very practical!
Of course, this is not mandatory. You can limit yourself to the use of the first category of the product file. We are just offering you a further possibility. It's up to you whether you will use it or not.
This function, associating multiple categories to a tree structure, offers numerous possibilities.

Note: If you pay attention to the dialog box allowing you to select the category where you will classify your product, you will notice that it proposes an editing mode that allows you to add a category "on the fly" when defining the information in the product file! This saves you from having to go back and forth between the "Element - Edition" and "Category - Edition" tabs.
 
 Organizing products in categories and subcategories

Products can be listed in any category, at any level. It is, therefore, not mandatory to list a product in the categories at the bottom of the tree structure. However, it is important to have a good understanding of what this implies.

Let's take a case in point. You sell computer equipment and you decide to use the following category tree structure:

Computers
Laptop Computers
Desktop Computers
Workstation
Gaming Station
Tablet PC
PDA

Nothing will stop you from associating a product "Super Laptop Computer" to the category "Computers". However, by doing this, it is highly possible that your visitors won't see this product if they navigate directly to the subcategory "Computers\Laptop Computers". This is why it is important to be coherent when organizing your catalog. As soon as subcategories exist in a category, you should associate your products with these subcategories and avoid orphan products placed in your root category (i.e. always associate products with subcategories and not root categories). Excluding specific exceptions, always store your products in the lowest subcategories in the tree structure (which are "Laptop Computers", "Workstation", "Gaming Station", "Tablet PC" and "PDA" in our example).

A specific exception to this rule may be the case where you wish to highlight a limited number of products stemming from various subcategories. If your product "Super Laptop Computer" is particularly attractive, you may decide to highlight it in the "Computers" category while ALSO classifying it in "Computers\Laptop Computers". If a visitor navigates using the category layout and they enter into the "Computers" category, they will then see a double display of Products and Subcategories. Therefore, they will see the highlighted products ("Super Laptop Computer") as well as the two subcategories "Laptop Computers" and "Desktop Computers".

Another important point: Avoid keeping empty subcategories. There is no reason that a subcategory containing no products should exist. If you do this, you will send your visitors to a dead end.
 
 Category layout and navigating with subcategories

The Actinic system offers different predefined layouts for your categories. It could be the case that when your visitors enter into your catalog, they may see all of your products at the same time. However, this is not recommended if you have a substantial amount of items in your catalog. In this case, it would be better to guide your visitors to the products they are searching for by using categories and subcategories.

You can activate and configure the category layout using the page accessible through the "Category - Layout" tab. Attention! You have the possibility of defining a different layout for the "Catalog" component, which does not offer products for sale and is configured via the [Commerce\Catalog (Window) menu, and the "Shopping Cart (Shop)" component, which manages your sales and is configured using the [Commerce\Shopping Cart (Shop) administration menu.

Let's take a case in point. You sell computer equipment and you decide to use the category tree structure defined below. Let's assume that you have taken great care in making sure that each category has a valid image and description.

Computers
Laptop Computers
Desktop Computers
Workstation
Gaming Station
Tablet PC
PDA
Printers
Ink Jet Printers
Laser Printers
Multifunction Printers
Storage
USB Flash Drives
External Hard Drives
CD Burners
DVD Burners

If you activate the category layout, when entering into your catalog the visitor will only see the categories at the highest level (displayed with their respective images and descriptions):

Computers (Image+Description)
Printers (Image+Description)
Storage (Image+Description)

If the user clicks on the "Computers" category, they will then see another view listing the subcategories with their images and descriptions:

Laptop Computers (Image+Description)
Desktop Computers (Image+Description)
Tablet PC (Image+Description)
PDA (Image+Description)

This logic applies as long as no products are available in the selected category.

However, this logic changes if there are products existing in a category along with the subcategories. If the product "Super Laptop Computer" exists in the "Computers" category, the displayed view will be different:

Subcategories
Laptop Computers
Desktop Computers
Tablet PC
PDA

Super Laptop Computer         Details - Add to Cart
[Product File]

In this case, the subcategories will be listed without their images or descriptions and the product(s) will be displayed taking into account the configured layout for the concerned products.
 
 Implementation Guidelines

Before beginning to define your set of categories, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the system. Create a tree structure limited to several categories and associate several products to these categories. Activate the category layout and inspect the acquired results in your site's catalog. Test the layouts and find the one that is the most suitable before continuing with the set up of your catalog. Continue testing the layout as you go along to verify the coherency of your tree structure. If possible, have others test your layout in order to get an outside opinion.
 
 VERY IMPORTANT NOTE

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PRODUCTS AND CATEGORIES IS STRICT AND NON RECURSIVE.

Let's take this category tree structure for example:

Computers
- Product 1
Laptop Computers
- Product 2
- Product 3
Desktop Computers
- Product 4
Printers
Ink Jet Printers
- Product 5

The Actinic system is not recursive at the category level.
This means that for the Actinic system, the "Computers" category contains 1 product, and not 4 products, as you might believe if you recursively take into account the products contained in the subcategories and the "Computers" category!
The "Printers" category does not contain any products either. On the other hand, the "Ink Jet Printers" category contains 1 product (Product 5).

This affects the management of your site at many different levels. For example, if you want to put all of the products found in the "Computers" branch on sale, you must select ALL of the subcategories of the "Computers" category in addition to the "Computers" category. That is to say: "Computers", "Laptop Computers" and "Desktop Computers".
 

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