When viewing the various templates available on this site, you might find yourself wondering why the basic layout is similar – left hand category column, two items per row, etc. The answer is quite simple. This is the default configuration of an Associate-O-Matic store when it’s set up fresh and ready to customize. In order to compare the themes fairly, it was decided early on that they should be applied to relatively ‘clean’ sites, so that visitors would get a sense of how the skins would look on a new install. This keeps everything on more or less the same footing.
But it should be emphasized that many of the built-in AOM options are still available to use. All the templates can have the category column and body section switched, so that the body is on the left. Some of the fixed-width and all of the variable-width layouts can use three columns. Or three items in the body area. Breadcrumbs, Sitemap links, Sort options and other details can be added or removed to suit. Plus the color schemes will allow you to tweak areas as much as you like.
And all the templates to date come with several simple home page layouts that you can customize, or use as a basis to create your own. As more themes are introduced, there will be different home page examples included. While it is true that some designs may require a few options to be fixed in place, every template still leaves plenty of room for your own customizations, if you wish. Sometimes it’s a difficult balancing act, deciding whether or not to keep a particular option open, or ‘nail it down’. Usually a choice is removed because it becomes incompatible with the theme in question. A menu graphic may not allow for a variable-width, or adding an image may not fit with existing design elements, etc. It’s a judgement call on my end, but more often than not I’ll try to make the layout as user-friendly as possible. Which means setting it up so the purchaser has to do as little as possible. After all, that’s why most people buy a premade template – so they don’t have to create their own layout.
So leave it ‘as is’, or change a few things around to make it more your own. Hopefully each theme will accommodate you either way you want to go.