Attributes are characteristics that describe a product and are the building blocks of your product catalogue and hence defining attributes and the attributes sets is one of the first steps in planning for your Magento website.
Each attribute contains a value that describes a characteristic of a product, such as “color” or “fabric.” The “color” attribute with the “dropdown” input type might contain many values, although only a few apply to any given product. Because a single attribute can be used with multiple products, your store needs to have only one attribute for color. You can create as many attributes as you need, and assign the most common value as the default, to make it easy for your customers to select the option. The attributes that make up a product are combined into an attribute set, which is used as template to create new products. The attribute set determines which fields are included in a product, and how they are grouped in the Product Information panel. Magento has a default attribute set with a standard selection of product attributes such as Name, Price, Description, and so on. Source Acknowledgement- Magento User Guide.
Typically we will have already talked you through the concept of attributes and attribute sets during the requirements gathering workshop and also identified a number of attributes and attribute sets during that meeting.
Now you will be provided with a link to a Google Doc that contains a template for mapping out and confirming attributes and attribute sets.
It’s important to note that we are concentrating on the “custom attributes” only at this stage. Custom attributes are those product attributes that will build on the “default” Magento attributes. The default Magento attribute set contains all the basic information relating to online products generally (I.e. all online stores will use such as “name”, “price”, “descriptions” “SKU” etc.), so what we’re looking for is attribution specifically related to the type of products you sell.
Focus on Attribute Sets
At this stage the attribute sets are the most important to identify, as it isn’t easy to change them later on. Each product will need to be added to one attribute set so we must ensure that all products can fit into the sets that we create. Generally Magento’s “default” attribute set will take any products that don’t fit in another attribute set.
Attributes – A Statring Point
Attributes on the other hand, can be easily added at a later time and/or displayed on front-end at a later time. Each attribute you add will mean more product data is required during the building of the catalogue and therefore more time (unless it already exists in CSV form). The amount of effort that should be given to the definition of attributes across the product catalogue is related to the time sensitivity of your particular project. For a quick implementation, focus on the attributes that are critical to display on the front-end for launch. As mentioned these can be built on post launch.