• New Features: Responsive Checkout, New Templates, and More

    This release of LightCMS brings exciting new changes to Checkout and the Form Builder as well as two new fully responsive designs. Keep reading to learn more about what you'll find in this release.

    Responsive Checkout

    For quite some time you've enjoyed responsive design on your website pages and in your web store. Now, just in time for your holiday shoppers, this release also brings responsive design to the Checkout page. Your web store visitors will now experience a seamless and fully responsive shopping experience, regardless of the devices they use for making purchases from your online store. 

    Click one of the images below for an expanded view.

    Desktop/Notebook Tablet Mobile
         

     

    Two New Responsive Designs

    This release includes two new responsive designs. As always, these designs are available for use on any LightCMS website at no extra charge. You can use the designs exactly as they are or make your own "tweaks" to the design by using our built-in design editor. If you're an advanced user, you can even download the design source code to use as a starting point for your own design.

    These two new designs are Civet and Liberty.

     Civet Liberty
       

    To see these designs in action for yourself, click one of the images above or  log in to LightCMS and go to the Designs section on the toolbar at the top of the page. Choose the Gallery, and look for our Featured Designs. You'll be able to apply them to your site or download their source files. You can also see these designs in the LightCMS Design Viewer.

    Updated Form Builder

    This release gives the Form Builder an updated look, bringing its appearance inline with the rest of LightCMS elements. The form builder functions exactly as it always has, providing you with a simple-to-use and sophisticated tool for creating forms on your site.

    Enhanced Form Builder Security

    To promote increased security of LightCMS and your business, we have made a change to the Form Builder element on trial sites. This update is only for the sites created when a user signs up on the LightCMS.com website. Users on these trial sites can still create forms and see the forms on the page, just as they always have. Now, however, the user must be logged to submit the form. This limitation is lifted when the user upgrades to a paid site. By making this change, we will help keep the integrity of the IP and of all LightCMS sites.

    Releasing November 25th

    Look for these changes on the morning of November 25th, just in time for Thanksgiving! For a look at what else is contained in this release, take a look at the 2014.12 release notes below.


     

    2014.12 Release Notes

    New Features

    • The Check Out page now has a responsive design, making for a friendlier, easier-to-use check out experience.
    • Two new responsive designs, Civet and Liberty are now available in the Featured Designs section of the Design Gallery.

    Enhancements

    • The Form Builder element has an updated new look that brings its appearance inline with other LightCMS elements.
    • Increased Form Builder security now means that a user on a trial site must be logged in to submit a form. This limitation is lifted when a site is upgraded to a paid site. Trial sites created by a reseller are not subject to this limitation.

    Resolved Issues

    • The system now provides descriptive error message instead of a generic message when reporting errors for the Stripe payment gateway.
    • RSS feeds now account for blog post times.
    • The LightCMS.com signup process now excludes special characters.
    • Store currency selection is no longer limited when the Stripe payment gateway is in use.
    • iCal imports from iCloud are working again.
    • Leading and trailing spaces have been removed from the blog post title HTML when viewing a blog post.

       

     

  • So You’re On the LightCMS Partner Platform…Now What?

    You love designing websites, not dealing with invoices and conducting server maintenance. That is why you became a LightCMS partner in the first place, right? The LightCMS cloud-based content management and web design platform was set up to make it easier for designers to focus on the creative aspects of their business rather than getting bogged down in the operational details. But to develop a strong presence as a web design firm, you should first learn about and how to take advantage of the LightCMS partner tools. Here are some of the resources and advice to get you on the right track.

    How-to videos and documentation. On the LightCMS partner help site, you’ll find a lot of helpful articles, videos and documentation on using the LightCMS tools, as well as tips showing how to customize sites for different clients.

    Free demo sites. LightCMS provides each partner with one free site. You can choose to use that as your actual business website, or turn it into a demo site to showcase your capabilities and the LightCMS platform. With the help of LightCMS’s free design templates, you don’t need to be an expert designer to quickly create a working demo. In fact, it’s possible to develop a demo site of two to four pages in less than an hour using a template, some of your own photos, corporate logo and web copy. In addition, you can leverage the LightCMS 14-day trial period that each new customer gets to create a custom demo for each hot prospect, then activate it when they’re ready to go forward.

    Responsive design templates. Today’s websites have to be accessible by all types of devices, from cell phones and tablets to large desktop monitors. That requires responsive web design, an approach for creating sites that can automatically adapt to the screen sizes of a wide range of devices. To ensure your clients’ sites can support their customers’ diverse needs, LightCMS provides multiple responsive design templates, free to its partners. You can also develop and implement your own custom templates. Once you’re happy with your template, just drop in a tiny snippet of code wherever you want your users to be able to add or edit content. The LightCMS system takes care of the rest.

    Flexible packaging options. LightCMS charges $19 per month per site. However, partners have a variety of different ways they can charge their customers. You can add 10, 20, 50 percent or more to the monthly price and bill customers the fees that you choose. Or you can have LightCMS bill you directly for the $19 while you bill your customers separately for hosting, design services, or other extras. Or you can bundle your services with LightCMS and create different packages to target different customer needs. For example, you might offer a one-time website and logo redesign package for a new business which wants to then take over management of its own site, while offering another package for long-term customers as part of a new customer web redesign package. Another bundle might provide long-term web site consulting, design and management services to a client who wants to outsource the oversight of it. You have the flexibility to create the packages and price structure best suited to your company.

    Marketing assistance. LightCMS offers advice on how to market and grow your business. If you’re new to the business, think about what types of organizations you want to focus on, and what services to sell. If you’ve already designed a few websites, consider targeting other businesses in those niches. Local churches, nonprofits, legal firms, schools, fitness centers, medical clinics, hair salons . . . they all need help designing web sites just for their businesses. There are dozens of potential markets, but it’s best to start with two or three and expand as you get more reference clients. Your LightCMS account manager can provide feedback and advice, and you’ll also find articles and blog posts on the LightCMS web site.

    Whether you're designing a single site or building a web design business, the LightCMS Partner Platform has the tools to help you do it well.

    To find out what other services LightCMS can provide to get your business growing, visit http://www.lightcms.com/partners.



  • Six Tips for Treating Your Website's Content and Audience with Care

    There is a lot you may want to share with your website visitors. But not all of it can, or should, be shared equally. Here are some basic, but critical, tips on web content organization and management.

    Don't cram content "above the fold." This is an old term from newspapers, which used to be folded in half, with the banner headline on top. Any story that ran above the fold of the newspaper was considered breaking news. However, websites don't have folds and the screen resolution of today's monitors is much better than it used to be -- they can display an entire page at once. Also, with the wide range of monitors, laptops, tablets and cell phones it's impossible to know where the fold will be for every display. So instead, arrange your content thoughtfully to draw people into your site and guide them through the page. Then let them use the scroll bar as needed.

    Don't overpopulate the homepage. Likewise, don't treat your homepage as your only page. It's common for web managers, especially in small or nonprofit organizations, to gradually overbook the homepage as new and “important” content comes in, while the older content never gets removed. That can result in the endlessly scrolling home page. While people are used to some scrolling, they don't expect to navigate three-foot long webpages (as they might have in the early days of the web). Today people get bored quickly, so keep your homepage content fresh, interesting, and short. Provide links and navigation buttons for visitors to reach other content not located on the homepage.

    Be consistent with typefaces, fonts and colors. The classic new designer's mistake is to fall in love with fonts and typefaces -- lots of them. But going overboard with multiple typefaces (the style, such as Garamond) and fonts (size and weight) makes it hard on readers. It winds up making a webpage look confusing and unprofessional. Instead, select two fonts, one for titles and one for content text. Usually, one will be a serif typeface (e.g. Caslon) and the other sans serif (Proxima Nova). Also avoid too much bolding, highlighting, underlining, colors, etc. Be bold with your design, but conservative with your font treatments. If you have a professionally designed template you can use, like the included designs in LightCMS, stick to it and avoid going outside its styles.

    Update regularly. Once you start a blog, or a news area, or a series of articles -- keep it updated. Nothing says "out of business" like a blog that was updated a year ago or a press release from six months past. If you can't commit to updates, then keep the site simple with just contact information, an overview of your organization's purpose, and other static content.

    Use SEO keywords carefully. It is often tempting to get as many keywords into your content as possible, to help it turn up in searches. However, too much repetition of keywords and phrases is a turn-off to would-be consumers who can quickly sense a ploy for hits vs. quality content. So select those four or five keywords that really represent your business. Use them whenever it makes sense, but not multiple times in one short article.

    Most of all, know your audience and what content they want to see. Then give it to them in as clear and concise a manner as possible. They'll appreciate it.

  • Why Two Experts Choose to Recommend LightCMS

    Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Kaya Ismail, the co-founder of the newly launched Website Builders Critic and leading contributor of CMS Critic. We thought it would be great to find out why he and his colleague Mike Johnston, the founder and leading contributor of CMS Critic, would recommend LightCMS to website builders. Their response below is what they shared with us.

    When Mike Johnston and I (the founder and leading contributor of CMS Critic respectively) decided to create Website Builders Critic, it didn’t take long for us to add LightCMS to our very small list of recommended products.

    The aim of Website Builders Critic - which we launched in October 2014 - is to show the less tech-savvy population that beautiful and powerful websites can be built far more easily than first thought.

     

    Via website builder reviews and video tutorials, Mike and I have attempted to make life easy for website building newbies when it comes to choosing a platform, and then using it.

    But of course, our advice can only be as good as the products we advise people upon. So, what made us choose LightCMS?

    Why LightCMS?

    A truly good website builder needs to be just simple enough for newbies to find their way, yet just flexible enough for those same newbies to grow and express their creativity. LightCMS fits that bill quite nicely.

    On top of some truly good looking templates, LightCMS’ user friendly interface makes adding pages and page elements a piece of digital cake.

    The drag-and-drop page building system makes working with LightCMS simple, whilst the wide range of page elements like sliders, galleries, products and forms makes it functional.

    It also has built in blogging and ecommerce functionality, both of which are solid features in their own right.

    The LightCMS Partner Platform also factored into our decision. The partner platform enables those who wish to churn out and manage websites for clients. Essentially, it’s a business model within a website builder, and that’s something we didn’t want to ignore.

    Plus, as the winners of the 2014 People’s Choice CMS Award for Best Cloud CMS for SMBs, Mike and I certainly aren’t alone in our admiration of LightCMS.

    LightCMS in Action

    Our decision to showcase LightCMS as one of the world’s best website builders for even the less tech-savvy isn’t just talk. It’s video, too.

    For example, we have already demonstrated how LightCMS can be used to  build a blog in 5 minutes, from signup page to published post.

    We have also done the same for online stores, portfolios and business websites, all of which LightCMS makes light work of (excuse the pun).

    This combination of speed and simplicity doesn’t just make it a good website builder. It makes it an approachable one for the masses - and that’s exactly why we recommend it.

    Check out our LightCMS review, as well as our LightCMS video tutorials.

    Author Bio:

    Kaya Ismail is the Co-founder of Website Builders Critic, and the leading contributor of CMS Critic.


  • What’s the Future of Web Design? Join Us in NYC to Find Out

    The LightCMS team is hitting the road again and heading to New York City next week for the 8th annual Future of Web Design conference taking place November 3-5 at New World Stages. Follow the Twitter conversation with hashtag #FOWD.

    If you are planning to go or thinking about going (don’t think about it…just go), we would love to meet up with you. During conference, we will be exhibiting and providing demos of our Partner Platform which can help take your design business to a whole new level. Check it out here:

    Please stop on by during your breaks from the awesome sessions, say hello, grab some schwag, enter to win an Xbox One, and while you are at it, learn how you can transform your design business just like these LightCMS design partners are doing.

    Collision Media Balances Style and Substance with LightCMS - http://www.lightcms.com/lightcms-story-collision-media

    Screen Four Creates Simple Solutions to Complex Problems with LightCMS - http://www.lightcms.com/lightcms-story-screen-four

    LightCMS Helps Steadfast Creative Lead with Design - http://www.lightcms.com/lightcms-story-steadfast-creative

    See you there!!


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