Before you begin working with custom layout updates, it is important to understand how the pages of your store are constructed, and the difference between the terms layoutThe visual and structural composition of a page. and layout updateA specific set of XML instructions that determines how the page is constructed.. The term layoutThe visual and structural composition of a page. refers to the visual and structural composition of the page. However, the term layout updateA specific set of XML instructions that determines how the page is constructed. refers to a specific set of XMLExtensible Markup Language: A markup format derived from SGML that it used to format information for publication and distribution. instructions that determines how the page is constructed.
The XML layout of your Magento Open Source store is a hierarchical structure of blocks. Some elements appear on every page, and others appear only on specific pages. You can see how these structural blocks are referenced by examining the layout update code for your home pageThe first home page a visitor sees when they access your website URL. Considered the most important page on your website according to search engine indexing.. To do so, simply open your home page in edit mode, and choose the Design tab to view the Page Layout section. Depending on the themeA package that contains graphics and appearance information, and customizes the look and feel of the store., it might contain instructions to remove blocks, unset blocks, and add blocks by referencing specific areas of the page layout.
In many cases, the same result can be achieved with the Widget tool. To place a block of content as a widgetA prepared snippet of code that adds functionality and/or dynamic effects to your store., you must identify the page, and the location on the page where you want the block to appear. You can use the Widget tool to place a block on most any page in your store, including the home page and all content pages. However, to place a block in the sidebarThe right or left column of a two-column page layout. of a specific page, you must make the change by entering code as a layout update.