Using the Default Web Url in Magento

Magento has a setting in admin under System > Configuration > Web > Default Pages called “Default Web Url”. Normally this is set to a value of cms, and you specify which CMS page to use in the next option “CMS Home Page”. Magento (of course!) doesn’t use the Default Web Url as you would expect – it is not a simple url string that will redirect the visitor. If you’ve tried to set this to land your users, for example, on a category or product page, you’ll have found out it doesn’t work the way you might think.

The Default Web Url value is interpreted by Magento using the three-part front controller scheme that runs the entire site. The format is like this: frontname/controllername/actionname and you can only have up to three parts specified, the way it’s interpreted (as of For those who aren’t familiar with this scheme, here’s a very brief overview. (visit for a more in-depth discussion) The frontname is defined in a module’s config.xml file. Look in the frontend section under routers and you’ll find a frontName tag. (Magento core modules are all under /app/code/core/Mage). The frontname routes the request to the module’s front controller, which are in the corresponding ModuleName/controllers directory. In there are all the controller files, named as ControllernameController.php and inside those files are the action methods, named actionnameAction().

Throughout the code examples below, replace Mycompany and Mymodule with whatever names you want to use. Be sure to pay attention to capitalization; it’s important and it’s not necessarily consistent or intuitive!

To set up a module that will let you redirect an incoming root website link to wherever you want, first set up a module xml file under /app/etc/modules/Mycompany_Mymodule.xml containing this code:
[code lang=”xml”]
<?xml version="1.0"?>

Then, create your company’s module directories:

Create your config file in /app/code/local/Mycompany/Mymodule/etc/config.xml:
[code lang=”xml”]
<?xml version="1.0"?>

You will see that we specify a frontend router, called mycompany, indicating that the frontName mycompany should direct the code to Mycompany_Mymodule.

Now, create the controller file in /app/code/local/Mycompany/Mymodule/controllers/PageController.php (the file can be named for whatever controllername you want to specify after the frontname on the url line, in this case the controllername would be “page” all lowercase. The file name should be your controllername with an uppercase first letter, followed by Controller.php)
[code lang=”php”]
class Mycompany_Mymodule_PageController extends Mage_Core_Controller_Front_Action
public function indexAction()

Here we define a class named after your module name and front controller name. In that class we have an indexAction() method, which is what gets called if you don’t specify an action name (like mycompany/page). If you want a different action name (like mycompany/page/discounts) you would create a method called discountsAction(). In our indexAction method above, we do a simple redirect, which will send the website visitor to whatever url we want, with no Magento shenanigans to mess with us. Set the admin Default Web Url to “mycompany/page” and it will fire the indexAction and redirect our visitor! Here we have it hard-coded, but it would be simple to set up a definable config setting in admin, if you want a fully-functional module.


Aaron K.

Aaron Kondziela is a technologist and serial entrepreneur living in New York City.


8 thoughts on “Using the Default Web Url in Magento

  1. Hi Aaron, Thank you so much for these directions. I didn’t think this was difficult or all that strange because I’ve written Magento modules before. But I am having a problem – after I make the changes, it works like a charm, except I can’t then access anything else in the Magento store, such as

    Any ideas?

    thanks much,
    Karen Kilroy

  2. PS: I didn’t mention I’m using Magento Enterprise Below is how I’ve got the Virtual Host configured in httpd.conf. The Magento implementation will have multiple domains hitting multiple websites. Some of the websites are required to have html front ends. Many thanks, Karen

    ServerAdmin [email protected]
    DocumentRoot /var/www/html/
    SetEnv MAGE_RUN_CODE “endlessyouthandlife”
    SetEnv MAGE_RUN_TYPE “website”
    ErrorLog logs/
    CustomLog logs/ common
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteRule .* – [F]

  3. Great explanation. Works for redirecting calls to the root domain. But it looks like it overwrites the “CMS home page” option in the configuration page of the backend.

    Is this the case?

  4. Thanks man for clearing this up.
    One thing though, I keep getting 404 when hitting catalog/category/ or catalog/category/view/

  5. mafic,
    No, the /default that you are getting in your URL is probably coming from the store View or something like that, but this particular article doesn’t apply. There are options in Admin somewhere to enable or disable multiple store views, and to embed it in the url. You just need to find it and turn it off, or something like that =)

  6. Hello ,I get Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in /var/www/magento/app/code/core/Mage/Adminhtml/Block/System/Config/Form.php on line 568when I try to acsecs Payment Methods on admin side . Any help please. I can’t figure out, what’s wrong.

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