When I had first started using STS someone told me I needed to create a tpl file for every page. I thought that defeated the point of STS thinking I only needed 1 file for the entire site. I basically want all the pages to have the same exact layout, the only difference being the product pages, which i would like to keep the tell a friend feature on. do i need a tpl file for every page? can someone please explain this to me?
and does sts have a newsletter feature that can go in like the tell a friend feature?
If you only want one template, you would set it as the default template and it will be used for every page that does not have a custom template.
When it comes to your product pages:
Create One Template for All Products within a Specific Category:
You can have a template for all of your products inside a specific category by adding the category ID to the template name. For example:
Let say you have a category 22 inside category 11, and want all products in category 22 to use the same content template. You have to create a template and name it “product_info.php_c11_22.html” and place it inside the “content” folder (like catalog/includes/sts_templates/full/content/).
Create a Content Template to be used for All Products:
As in the example above, you can create a content template named “product_info.php_c11.html” that would be used for all products inside category 11 INCLUDING sub-categories (unless subcategories have their own template).
Now, as you probably already know, content templates are only for the center of the page. If you want to have a different header/columns/footer for products in a category 22, you have to create a template named “product_info.php_c11_22.html” and place it your template folder (not in the content folder), for example: catalog/includes/sts_templates/full/.
For more detailed information, see chapter 3, sections 6-10 of the STS documentation.
So, as the manual mentions, STS is quite versatile allowing you to keep it "simple" or very complex.