One of the benefits of Magento is the huge industry of Extensions and Templates that has grown up over the last couple of years. There are thousands of well produced, beautiful and cleanly coded Templates. There are also some that are not. However, if you pruchase from some of the moderated Template providers eg Theme Forest and read the reviews carefully you can purchase a good template.
if you are reading this then you are just getting started in your Magento life.. so make the correct choise and BACKUP NOW.. right now.. before reading any further.
OK now you can continue..
TEMPLATE STRUCTURE AND LOCATION
Templates generally contain two branches of your magento file structure
by default magento will load app/design/frontend/default/default and by directly editing the files in here (and clearing your cache) you will see the changes reflected on the front of your site. However, this is NOT a good idea. When Magento upgrades to a new version all the files in app/design/frontend/default/default and skin/frontend/default/default (as well as the other ‘standard’ themes /modern /blank etc) will be over-written with the new upgraded default theme. We have seen many customers who have purchased custom themes from developers who have then installed these in this folder and they do not find out till the run and upgrade which then destroys the theme.
Creating a simple custom theme is just a case of adding a new folder to the existing structure.
Any files that you place in these folders will over-ride their counter part in the default structure.
To apply the theme Log in to the backend of your Magento site and under System > Design add a new design and select the new theme you have created.
A good example of this is the Modern theme. Take a look at the contents of this folder and you will see that only a few files differ from the contents of the default folder.
INSTALLING COMMERCIAL THEMES IN MAGENTO
When you purchase a Commercial Theme they will generally have specific instruction for the theme. FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS. Many these have other structures and may well place files in other locations eg /js /app/code/community
However, the basic method of installing these is the same and generally involves uploading the contents of the package you have purchased (and downloaded from your theme provider) to your webserver via ftp.
You will need an ftp client. Filezilla is a popular choice however, DO NOT STORE YOUR PASSWORD in the ftp client. Instead keep your password safe eg LastPass and cut and paste it when required. Nearly all Magento hacking can be linked back to the user exposing their password like this.
Your host will have provided you with your ftp details which will comprise:
Enter these into your ftp client and connect to the server.
All ftp clients offere essentially the same server. One one side of the screen is you local PC and on the other is your web server. Navigate to the root of your website eg httpdocs (plesk) or public_htm (cpanel and others). Note: if you site is loaded from a sub-folder eg httpdocs/shop/ make sure you select this folder. In the local PC window navigate to the extracted downloaded folder provided by your theme designer.
As you would expect these archives are normally presented with folders that you need to upload to your webserver IN THE CORRECT PATH STRUCTURE. So you will generally find only two folder
either way unless there are specific instructions telling you other wise upload all of these folders to the root directly of your website. To do this either drag and drop the files into your root folder or use what ever mechanism your ftp programme supplies to do the same,