What is a Template?

Basic information about how to change your site’s appearance

Before you read this article, please be sure you are familiar with Basic Terms used in describing Zen Cart files.


What is a template?

A template (sometimes called a “theme” or a “skin” in other software) is a set of files that controls how the Zen Cart storefront looks.

The following list outlines the elements of a template:

  • Template Pages - how content display is structured
  • Header - top part of template, including logo and top menu area if any
  • Sideboxes - narrow pieces of content that are placed on the left and right edges of all pages
  • Centerboxes - wide pieces of content that are placed in the center of the page on specific pages
  • Stylesheet - the CSS that controls the layout of the site
  • Responsiveness - modern templates must look good on mobile devices like phones and tablets

What’s the difference between templates and overrides?

Creating a new template means you are using the overrides system, even if just to create includes/templates/YOURTEMPLATE and folders below that. But generally, a new template also uses more overrides:

  • language file overrides like includes/languages/YOURTEMPLATE and includes/languages/english/YOURTEMPLATE
  • code overrides like /includes/modules/YOURTEMPLATE

What can I not override?

See the list of non-overridable files.


What is template default?

See the template default FAQ.


What is responsive classic?

The “Responsive Classic” template was added as the main template in Zen Cart 1.5.5. It uses techniques like browser user-agent-detection to adapt its display for mobile devices like phones and tablets. See other templates for Zen Cart and the Responsive Classic FAQ.


What other templates are available?

See other templates for Zen Cart.


I created a new template, but can’t see it in Admin > Tools > Template Selection

This can happen if you have forgotten to create the template_info.php file. See the template_info FAQ.




Still have questions? Use the Search box in the upper right, or try the full list of FAQs. If you can't find it there, head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there in the appropriate subforum. In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Is there an error or omission on this page? Please post to General Questions on the support forum. Or, if you'd like to open a pull request, just review the guidelines and get started. You can even PR right here.
Last modified April 20, 2021 by Scott C Wilson (561b3b27).