How to Edit the Download Archive

There is no denying that product presentation is an important part of any eCommerce business. Not only does it need to function well, but its presentation also has to make sense and be intuitive. 

As an Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) user, there is a chance you have want to adjust your product presentation to fit the needs of your store and your customers. In this article, we'll cover how EDD presents your products by default as well as the various ways you can control that presentation.

Download Shortcode

Before we get into too much detail, if you are just looking for a way to display all of the products you have created in a simple fashion, use the  downloads shortcode. It can be placed directly in a new page without any additional configuration if you do not need it.

Now, on to the more technical stuff. 

Default Download Archives

For those of you using the "Post name" permalinks selection in your WordPress settings (most likely everyone), a default product archive is created for you automatically once you have created at least one product in your system. You can see this page by visiting yourdomain.com/downloads in your browser.

Please understand that this page is not intended to be your store. It is not something that EDD creates for you as a store. Instead, it is there because of how WordPress treats certain post types. This does not mean you cannot control the display of this archive. It just means EDD expects you to use the [downloads] shortcode as your most basic display of products, not the download archives. We will, however, cover how to control this archive.

WordPress uses a  template hierarchy in the active theme (or its parent theme if a child theme is activated) to determine which template should be used to display different types of pages on your site. After a certain type of template file is chosen, in this case, an archive template, WordPress will use the names of the existing templates to choose which one is the right choice.

Most WordPress themes include an archive.php file. It is typically used for things like author, date, and taxonomy archives. It is also used for custom post type archives, which is what EDD's Download is.

Custom post type archives have a very simple hierarchy in regard to template files:

  1. archive-{post_type}.php – If the post type is book, WordPress will look for archive-book.php.
  2. archive.php
  3. index.php

If a template file named specifically for a custom post type is present, WordPress will use it. Otherwise, it will use the common archive.php or ultimately fall back to the required index.php file.

Unless your theme was built specifically for use with EDD, there's a chance it has an archive.php file and no archive-download.php. That means your theme will use the generic archive.php template to display products when you visit yourdomain.com/downloads in your browser.

While this generic display may be okay for author or date archives, it isn't always a good fit for download archives. Instead, you would need to create an archive specifically for Downloads.

archive-download.php

If you place a file called archive-download.php in the root of your active theme, WordPress will use it to render yourdomain.com/downloads. That is pretty straightforward. However, what you build into this file is up to you.

If you are a theme developer, you should be familiar with how to build the various template files. You can use our  sample product grid to jumpstart the development of your download archive. If you are not a theme developer, this is something you would need to hire someone for. How to develop an archive is less about EDD and more about WordPress and general development. That is outside the scope of this documentation.

If you are not a theme developer but you are hands-on, there are several theme examples you can use to grasp the concept of creating a custom archive for your downloads. The best reference would be our  Vendd theme, which you can also find on GitHub for easy access to the codebase.