Magento custom category page template

One of Magento’s weaknesses is that there often different ways to customize your installation. When several developers work on a site this often leads to inconsistencies and some ways of customizing are better than others. I was doing some research on adding a custom category template for an individual category and all solutions I found were centered around Magentos “Custom Layout Update” option which allows to overwrite the layout structure via a XML snippet in the Magento admin (Catalog > Manage Categories).


This option has several disadvantages:

  • It’s a pain to write XML in a textarea
  • There is no way of keeping track of the change in source control
  • You have to deploy this change by writing custom SQL queries or manually in your dev and staging instances

A much cleaner option is to simply do your overwrites in your themes catalog layout file catalog.xml (app/design/frontend/[package]/[theme]/layout/catalog.xml).

<!-- Category id goes here -->
<CATEGORY_[category id]>
    <reference name="root">
        <!-- Switch to 1 column layout -->
        <action method="setTemplate"><template>page/1column.phtml</template></action>
    <reference name="content">
        <!-- Overwrite the view template -->
        <block type="catalog/category_view" name="category.products" template="catalog/category/[template name].phtml" />
</CATEGORY_[category id]>

This approach offers the same flexibility and is much easier to deploy and maintain.

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Magento custom category page template

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