re: Is there a way to customize the template, or use a different template that would make this work?
Not exactly. The premium templates do provide your visitors a way to filter by category.
re: I’m familiar enough with css and php
Change this line to this:
'<a href="' . cnTerm::permalink( $category->term_id, 'category' ) . '">' . esc_html( $category->name ) . '</a>';
That should do it… I think, untested.
re: On the second issue — haha! Sorry, didn’t realize the http:// had been added when I imported the csv.
Yes, presently, CSV Import uses the URL to set the URL as the title text. Well, actually core Connections does this because it needs a value, so it’ll default to the URL if no title is added. The next update to CSV Import allows the importing the title too.
Hope that helps, let me know.