I’ve been working on http://fostersart.com.au, and it is now about 85% complete. If you have any thoughts, opinions I would really be interested in them.
A category page: http://fostersart.com.au/categories/notebooks
A product page: http://fostersart.com.au/derwent-watercolour-pencils.html
This was a complete blank slate, I took all the CSS out, used Blueprint CSS to structure the pages and then added CSS from the default template, and my own to structure some of the harder to style pages such as the one page checkout. I was aiming for a nice clean layout, to emphasise the products over the site’s design, and to really move the site “out of the way” of the customer.
I’ve found Magento hard to template, there seems to be a lack of documentation of functions to use to display products/categories/prices etc in a simple fashion. For example I can’t find anywhere a way to show a list of products and categories on a single page (I would eventually like an alphabetical index).
So, overall I think Magento is an extremely good system but customizing the front-end seems to be overly complex a lot harder than it should be. I would love to see the developers take a leaf from Wordpress’ template tags idea where functions to retrieve posts, pages etc are structured so that thePost() outputs a post, and getThePost() retrieves the post for use by php in your script.
I also guess that developing any kind of default template for magento is a stretch to satisfy everyone, and stripping out what you need from what you don’t is where the hard work comes in.