I work on the 'business' side of Magento (i.e. I'm not a developer). I'm looking to get a better understanding of the theory behind Attributes & Attribute Sets.

My goal: Come up with a few rules to have in mind while creating Attributes Sets and Attributes.

For example, is best to go as wide as possible with attributes? Or, should attributes get more specific? Should sets be category based? Or, something else.


  • 1
    I'm not sure why this was downvoted. While not technical, I think it's one of the most important questions when starting out with Magento and it definitely affects developers along with business managers. Mar 12 '13 at 6:57
  • Not enough for an answer, but an important point: sets can logically scope a "kind" of attribute. For example, "size" can apply to shirts, hats, shoes, etc., but the same size attribute would not be the correct way to do this. Each size should be specific: size_shirt, size_shoes, etc., and then each specific attribute should be associated with the correct attribute set.
    – benmarks
    Aug 13 '13 at 15:53

First of all, I'm a developer. I might see attributes and attribute sets differently but I'll give it a try.

The short version:

attribute = one specification of a product

attribute set = all the specifications (attributes) of a product. This basically defines a product.

Now the longer version: I saw that is a common practice to associate (at least verbally) an attribute set to a category. This is because it's in our nature to put everything in a group.

An attribute set represents the TYPE of the product. This article explains it better.

How far should you go with the attributes? I don't know if there is a correct answer for this. As an e-commerce website user I would like to have every single detail of a product in a separate attribute instead of having most of them in a single long text. This makes it easier to filter/search products by some attributes, to have a clear view while comparing them.

As the developer that has to make your website run faster and not crash on mass updates or high traffic I wouldn't want to have too many attributes and attribute sets (more entries in db = slower queries)

As the guy that has update the products (if there is no automated product import/sync) I would rather copy/paste some text from a document into a single field and click save.

Based on these 3 points of view here is what I would do for my personal e-commerce website (I have't decided yet on what I'm selling): Each product type will have a separate attribute set. Attribute sets will share some attributes (name, description...). Each user sensitive information about a product will be a separate attribute. Information that are not that important will all be put in a single attribute (called 'Additional information').

This is my opinion. I don't say is the best but it's the only one I've got.

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