Magento has a user friendly and robust category management system in the admin panel of the software. You do not have to have any programming knowledge to manage the categories of your Magento site, and this blog post will cover managing them in the admin panel showing you how to do so.

1) Login to your Magento Admin Panel

This can be done by logging into your Magento admin panel simply by going to your url/admin or whatever you customized your admin panel url to be.  Here you will have the standard Magento login panel screen where you will enter your username and password.

Magento Admin Panel

2) Click on Categories Under Catalog

The categories section of the admin panel is where you are going to manage your product page categories and site navigation.  This is one of the most important sections of your eCommerce store, especially if you are in charge of managing product information.

Magento Categories

3) Create A New Category As A Sub Category

Chances are you are not going to need to create a new root category, as there is already the default category setup in Magento that is the main root category. That means you will want to create the top level root categories of your site that will be the main pages in your navigation on your website.

You can create further sub categories of the main sub categories to have dropdowns on your website.  If your website is designed for a mega menu then you can have even more levels of dropdowns (subcategories) without compromising the conversions or user friendliness of your site navigation.

If you have more than one level of dropdowns but do not have a megamenu than you may want to reconsider the way your site navigation is setup because multi level dropdowns can be frustrating to navigate if they do not go full width.  An example of a mega menu is the office depot website.

4) Setup Your Category Settings

Here you are going to choose the correct information for the four main tabs of a sub category, general information, display settings, custom design, and category products.

General Information:

For general information you will have to select name, whether you want the category to be active or not, and whether it is included in the navigation or not.  Those are the only three required fields for a sub category.

The other settings you can choose are a thumbnail image, which can be used to display an image of the category on the homepage or another page that leads to the category page.  The description of the category has a WYSIWYG editor and can be used to write a description about the category that is usually displayed above the products.

The Page Title, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords are all for SEO, although the Page Title and Meta Description are the only ones that matter now that Google basically ignored Meta Keywords.

Magento Categories General Information

Display Settings: 

The display mode has three options, products only, static block only, and static block and products. Now I am not going to go into static blocks here but as you can imagine static blocks are meant for static content, not products. In most cases you will want to use only products, or maybe a static block for special static content and products, but you really shouldn’t use it only for static blocks because there are better ways to create a static page in Magento.

The next section CMS Block allows you to choose the static block you want to choose if you do choose to use a static block. After that you can decide if you want the category to be an anchor. If you set anchor to yes it turns on layered navigation, which allows the user to sort by a set of attribute groups of all the products contained in that category and below it.

You can also choose what attributes you want the user to be able to sort by.  The default is set to use all attributes but you can uncheck that and specify the attributes you want.  The default product listing sort by is the default attribute, best value, which can also be changed to whichever attribute you want to set for the sort by feature.

The last option of Layered Navigation Price Step is how you choose the incremenets that you want your customers filtering by price for a category. So if you choose $100 they will be able to sort through the products on your category page like this:

  • $1  – $99.99
  • $100 – $199.99
  • $200 – $299.99
Magento Categories Display Settings

Custom Design: 

The custom design section allows you to customize each category page to a specific design layout. This is incredibly useful for eCommerce stores that have different brands and types of products that need a different look and feel when a user arrives at those category pages.

The first setting, Use Parent Category Settings, allows you to choose the same custom design as the parent page if set to yes.  If you want to apply that custom design to the product pages of that category you can do that as well in the second setting, Apply To Products, by selecting yes.

In the third setting, Custom Design, you can select the theme design that you want applied to your category.  Magento comes with a few default theme options, and you can build a custom theme or buy a prebuilt one on something like Themeforest.

You can select the Active From and Active To settings to specify specific dates that you want the custom design to be active. This can be particularly useful for certain holidays or other events.

The Page Layout option allows you to choose one of the default Magento layout options, Empty, 1 Columns, 2 Columns with left bar, 2 Columns with right bar, and 3 columns.  Here you can decide how you want your categories organized by layout structure.

Lastly you can update the category design with custom XML in the Custom Layout Update section with Magento XML such as <block> to create a static block.

Magento Categories Custom Design

Category Products:

In the Category Products section you can see what products are setup for the category you have chosen.  You can uncheck any products you do not want selected.  This is a great section that helps you better manage the products in your category rather than going to each product individually.

Magento Categories Category Products

5) Structure Your categories Into The Right Folders And Order

Magento has a convenient drag and drop tool that will allow you to organize your categories into the folders and structure you want to, similar to the WordPress menu software.  The structure and organization of your categories is incredibly important for your eCommerce websites success, so properly evaluate the SEO and user friendliness of the categories your are creating during this process!

Magento Category Management Admin Panel Screencast

This video is meant to help anyone new or unfamiliar with managing your product categories in Magento do so within the admin panel.


Need more help managing categories in Magento? Contact us for more information on how to leverage Magento for your business.

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