Product attributes are used in Magento to help customers drill down via Layered Navigation. More detailed and appropriate product attributes greatly improves the visibility of products relevant to a customer's requirements.
To add a new attribute, select Catalog > Attributes > Manage Attributes and you'll be presented with the following screen:
While there's a lot going on here, most of the fields can be left as default. The more important fields are:
- Attribute Code: assign a unique Attribute Code for this attribute. This is a unique machine-friendly identifier with no spaces, such as 'material_colour' or 'size'
- Input Type: select an input type. 'Drop-down', 'Text' and 'Multiply select' are frequently used attributes. If you want to include this attribute in layered navigation, it must be of types 'Dropdown', 'Multiple select' or 'Price'
- Values Required: Selecting 'Yes' here will ensure products cannot be added without this field being filled in.
- Use in Quick Search: if selected, this attribute will be searchable via front-end searches. Generally you want this to be 'Yes'.
- Use in Advanced Search: if selected, this attribute will appear as a unique field in the front-end 'advanced search', which may or may not be necessary.
- Use in Layered Navigation: whether to show this attribute as selectable for filtering products via the front-end Layered Navigation system. This is one of the most powerful aspects of product attributes and an extremely useful way to discover products.
- Use in Promo Rules: whether to enable promotional or shopping cart rules based on this attribute. This can be useful in applying specific discount rules: imagine a St Patrick's Day promotion where everything in store which is green gets 10% off...
- Position: a number which indicates the position in Layered Navigation. Higher numbers appear lower in the list.
- Visible on Product View Page on Front-end: whether to display this attribute on the product page, depending on theme, this is frequently in a tab such as 'details'