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Creating your own theme

Building a PrestaShop is a complex endeavour. For instance, in comparison with a WordPress theme, which could work with a single index.php file, a minimal PrestaShop requires many more pages: home page, product page, user account pages, cart page, order process pages, etc. Building a theme for an e-commerce site implies a much more complex and intertwined set of pages and templates.

This is why we advise to start your own theme by using the foundations laid by the default theme. Complete and proven, PrestaShop's default theme ensures that all necessary pages are already in places, leaving you the freedom to rework the page display, to use your own images, to enhance it with your own scripts.

Getting Started

The first step is plain in simple: make a straight copy of PrestaShop's default theme folder.

In PrestaShop 1.4, the default theme is called "prestashop", and is located in the /themes/prestashop folder.
In PrestaShop 1.5, the default theme is called "default", and is located in the /themes/default folder.

Give your copy of the folder its own name: it should be the final name of your theme, in a single lowercase word. Make sure to check on the Addons website that no other theme is already using that name, even more so if you plan to eventually sell that theme online.
Place the renamed folder in the /themes folder of your installation PrestaShop.

Cleaning up

Both the default theme and your installation of PrestaShop contain a payload of content and styles that are not necessarily useful to your own theme. For instance, many modules are installed and activated by default by PrestaShop. While some are necessary for the proper functioning of a complete store, others can simply be put aside while you build the theme.

The necessary module templates are:

Module name

Why it is necessary


Displays the whole order & payment process.


Displays the user creation process.

You simply cannot sell a product if your theme does not support these modules.

There also are modules which, while not necessary for a fonctionning store, should still be included when designing a theme. You should try your best to build your theme with these modules in mind.

The "Must have" module templates are:

Module name

Why it is necessary


Displays the product categories.


Lists and displays the CMS pages (i.e. Terms & Conditions, Legal notice, etc.).


Displays the Customer Service information.


Displays the stores contact info.


Displays links to the user's account pages in the footer.


Displays the searchh engine and its results.


Displays the product tags.


Displays featured products.

Finally, these modules are not as important as the others ones, but bring a lot of value to your store, and helps your customers discover products and learn more about your store. Again, you should design your store with these modules activated.

The "Good to have" module templates are:

Module name

Why it is necessary


Displays the best-selling product.


Displays layered navigation filters.


Displays additional custom links.


Lists and displays the manufacturers/brands of the store's products.


Displays the newest produts.


Displays a form where customers can subscribe to your store's newsletter.


Displays the content of an RSS feed from another site.


Displays information about your store's social networking pages.

block specials

Displays the current discounts.


Displays a link to the store located.


Lists and displays the suppliers of the store's products.


Lists the products that the customer viewed last.


Displays the customer's wishlists.


Displays a comment section in each product page.

All these module templates are included by default in the default theme's /modules folder, because they are front-end features that are needed by that theme. You can safely disable/uninstall any other module in the back-office "Modules" page. This enables you to start on a somewhat clean slate.

A fully clean slate would be to disable all modules and re-install them one by one, enabling you to integrate them into your design while building you theme. This is a good way to work, as you it helps you know which content broke your page layout, but it takes longer to reach your goal. Keep a known set of essential modules helps you build your theme faster while making sure it will work in most configuration.

The point here is that a theme must come packed with custom templates for the default modules. These template files are stored in the /modules folder of the theme's folder. For instance, in the default theme, the template file for the Layered Navigation module can be found in the following path: /themes/default/modules/blocklayered/blocklayered.tpl It is your duty as a theme developer to build templates for at least all the default PrestShop modules, along with the additional modules that you plan on providing along with your theme's files.
If all you want to change in a module's front-office appearance is its CSS file, you should put your customized version in this folder: /themes/YOUR_THEME/css/modules/blocklayered/blocklayered.css. Just make sure to use the same file path.

Creating content

Your theme will display content taken from the PrestaShop database. Wether you plan on keeping the theme to yourself or share/sell it for others to use, you simply cannot start designing it without content, along with the activation of some key features that any store might use, along with yourself.

The demo data installed with PrestaShop is enough to help with it, as it features products, categories, stores, etc. Starting with a fresh installation of PrestaShop gives you a head-start with demo content, while empty stores will require you to start adding content (either fake or real) to the store in order to actually see your theme react to it.


Now that the default theme has been turned into a folder of its own, it is time for you to explore its files: Smarty templates, CSS rules, JavaScript codes, location of the hooks and content blocks... Everything can be changed, and it is up to you to rework it the way you want!

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