• New Features: Password Protected Pages and Calendar Enhancements

    As children, we learn the importance of passwords. Who doesn't remember playing as a child and asking "What's the password?" before granting permission to enter a room, a clubhouse, or even a password protected page. What? A password protected page? That's right! Adults and kids alike will love today's release, bringing Password Protected Pages and more to the LightCMS platform.

    Password Protected Pages

    Granted, you may not want to password protect a page to keep your little sister out, but password protection on website pages enables you to restrict access to certain pages of your site, granting access to only those visitors who know the password. Of course, you've always been able to restrict access via LightCMS's robust system of Users and Roles, but we've had many requests for a quick and easy way to restrict access without having to create a user.

    Plus, it's so easy to use.

    To enable the feature, simply go to a page’s settings and select the Advanced tab. Enter a password in the Password field, and that page becomes password protected. It's really that easy. As you might guess, to unprotect a page, you clear the password from the field.


     

    When a visitor attempts to access a protected page, the system displays the Protected Page message and requires the visitor to enter the password before it will display the page.

    Registered users assigned to an administrative role, or any role that grants editing privileges for the page, can access the page without having to enter the password, as long as they are logged in.

    Manage Your Events

    LightCMS users who publish a calendar of events on their websites will be excited about the new Manage Events feature. Similar to Manage Posts for blogs, Manage Events gives you a listing of all of that calendar element’s events. To view the Manage Events page, go to the page with the calendar element and select Manage Events from the Calendar element’s dropdown menu.

    You can sort the Manage Events grid by clicking a column heading. Filter the events in the grid by entering a search term in the Search field located at the upper right corner. You can also specify the number of events to display in the grid by selecting the number from the Show dropdown list in the upper left corner. If the calendar has more events than you choose to display, use the Next and Previous links in the bottom right corner of the grid to page forward and backward through the events.

    Manage Posts

    The Blog element's Manage Posts page now includes the same features that were introduced on the Manage Events page listed above. This includes sorting, filtering, and pagination.

    It’s About Time!

    Event time! You can now specify an end time for an event. Previously, you could set only the event start time. To set up start and end times for an event, enter them in the time section of the event settings page.

    Display the Time in Event Summaries

    Previously, event times only displayed on the event's detail page. Now, both the start time and end time can be displayed in event summaries in list or calendar view.

    List View

       

    Calendar View

     

    A check box on the calendar element settings specifies if this calendar should list the start and end times for events.

      

    When the feature is released, Display event time will be unchecked for any existing calendars. For new calendars, Display event time will be checked by default.

    Released September 23rd

    As you may have already noticed, these features and enhancements were released today Tuesday, September 23rd. For a look at what else to expect in this release, take a look at the 2014.10 release notes below. 


    2014.10 Release Notes

    New Features

    • Added the ability to password protect a page. By password protecting a page you can restrict access to only those visitors who know the password. This enables you to secure and grant access to pages on your site, without having to set up a user for each visitor you want to give access to the page. To password protect a page, simply enter a password in the password field on the pages advanced settings. Then give the password to whomever you want to view the page.
    • The new Manage Events page gives you an easy-to-use interface for managing your calendar events. To manage events, select Manage Events from the Calendar element menu. This page lets you sort events by name, date, and modified date. You can also search for events by name or date.
    • You can now specify an end time for calendar events. Previously you could specify only an event start time.
    • You can now list event start and end times on the calendar summary view. Previously, times were displayed only on the event detail page. To display event times, select settings from the Calendar element menu and check the Display event time box on the Basic tab. After release, this box will be unchecked for existing calendars. For new calendars, the box will be checked by default.
    • The Blog element Manage Posts page now gives you the ability to more easily manage your blog posts. These enhancements include the ability to sort posts by title, publish date, and modified date. You can also search posts by title and publish date.

    Enhancements

    • The body and summary sections of the BlogML import no longer uses paragraph tags on every new line. The HTML is now imported as is.
    • When blogs are exported from LightCMS, the system no longer serializes the attachments as part of the post. Instead, only the file name of the attachment is stored in the export XML file. The BlogML import process now also looks for and imports the file name of the attachment so it is stored in the new post record. With this change, users must move the attached files from one blog to another via FTPS.
    • Now if a visitor encounters an error on a site or if a site is down, the system displays a page that lets the visitor know we are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it.
    • You now have the ability to configure your element toolbars and menus to display in black instead of the default white. To enable black toolbars, go to your site settings and select the Advanced tab. Check Enable black toolbars in the Toolbar Options section.

    Resolved Issues

    • Default text now displays for an empty Files and Links element.
    • Billing information fields now display at checkout when a customer purchases a free item that includes a handling fee.
    • When a digital download product was created and the source of the digital download was a remote link, an error message sometimes displayed stating no file was found at the URL, even if a file existed at that location. 
    • When a client billed website is upgraded by the account owner and a custom price is set, the custom price is only allowed if it is 5x the monthly price or lower. For partner platform accounts, this now allows a 10x price markup.
  • Thanks for Making Us a CMS Critic People's Choice Finalist

    We are thrilled to share that, thanks to lots of help from users who nominated us, LightCMS has been selected as a finalist in the category of Best Cloud CMS for SMB within the 2014 CMS Critic People’s Choice Awards. We couldn’t have done it without your support!

    Time to Vote!

    We haven’t won just yet and still need your help in making LightCMS the People’s Choice Winner for Best CMS for SMB. This time around the voting is open to everyone, so not only can you, our users, vote but you can also encourage your friends, colleagues and family members to help out as well! Voting is open now through October 17, 2014 at Midnight MST.

    If you could, please take a minute and head on over to CMS Critic’s Voting Page and vote for LightCMS. Please note that you don’t have to vote for a winner in all 26 categories if you don’t want to, but if you do recognize any vendors in other categories, I am sure they would appreciate your vote as well.

    Thanks so much for your continued support in making us the best Cloud CMS by creating beautiful websites and online stores for your businesses and your clients’ businesses. We cannot do this without your help!

  • 7 Tips for Hiring Top Design Talent

    Hiring is possibly the biggest growth opportunity for any web design company. The smaller the firm, the more each new person can contribute in terms of skill, contacts, professional image and team motivation. Of course, hiring a new person represents both potential income, possible risk and certain cost.

    Hiring Top Design Talent

    If you want to make more money, you need to have more manpower to handle a greater amount of work. The catch, of course, is that hiring people also takes extra time, so small, busy firms tend to put off hiring staff because it is, at least temporarily, easier to handle things themselves. But that delay only adds to the pressure and can result in having to turn down key accounts or, worse, failing to deliver on deadlines for important clients.

    Following are some guidelines to make the hiring process easier and more successful.

    1. Don’t Rely Solely on Help Wanted Ads

    The people really reading those ads are usually unemployed and generally less likely to be the top talent you want. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, but if you’re short on time don’t waste it going through a stack of 200 mediocre candidates to find one gold nugget.

    2. Do Recruit

    Contact local designers' groups, professional organizations, and even current employees to find out who they might suggest. You’re looking for the all-star designers who may be interested in changing direction. These folks are known to their professional colleagues.

    3. Know Your Company’s Vision and Sell It

    Not everything is about money, and that definitely includes a job candidate’s motivation to join your company. Of course, money is a factor, a large factor, in making the decision. But plenty of people join the Peace Corps, found their own startups, volunteer for nonprofits and do other things that offer a lot of personal fulfillment but not a lot of dollars. So understand your vision, your company’s future path, your brand, what aspects of your company’s vision are a good match with the job prospects', as well as any basic perks your firm has to offer – flex time, sabbaticals, gym memberships, great organic cafeteria on the top floor, etc.

    4. Pay What the Job is Worth

    You should make your salaries as close to market rate as you can. The more appealing your vision of the company, the greater the opportunity for creative or cutting-edge work, and the higher salary, the greater your odds of landing the perfect recruit.

    5. Consider Their Personality

    A “perfect” recruit is only perfect for your needs, not necessarily for your competitor’s. The skills are what make the prospect desirable, but personality will determine whether he or she will work out long-term. For instance, do you need a team player and negotiator who enjoys the give and take of groups, or do you really need an ingenious web designer who may isolate herself in her cubicle and get annoyed with criticism.

    Prospects won’t always tell you upfront what their preferences are, so you may need to ask indirect, situational questions about their favorite projects and roles in them, or the best managers they've had and why. I’ve also used personality tests and generally had good results. Also, ask one or two colleagues to conduct or sit in on an interview, especially if the candidate is a strong one.

    6. Protect Your Intellectual Property

    While "work for hire" seems to be a clear-cut concept, it isn't so clear in some states and situations. You need an employment contract that spells out when and how something becomes company-owned or employee-owned. Check with your lawyer on that.

    7. Protect Your Business

    Your contract should also offer some protection from a termination-related lawsuit. When you’re a small organization – under 20 or so employees – you can usually hire and fire at will. But don't wait to terminate if you believe you've made a mistake. Waiting demoralizes the rest of the employees and can make it harder to fire. If the person has been there long enough for a performance review, for instance, he may expect to be given a chance to improve his performance. And, as always, consult your lawyer.

    Finding the right person can be challenging, but when you do, that person has the potential to make your web design business a success. Never settle for someone that is just “good for now.” Hold out for that perfect fit for your organization and always listen to your gut.

  • Introducing the New Element UI

    Elements are the keys to LightCMS's simple-to-use content management system. From the beginning, we built LightCMS with an "edit in place" approach, using toolbars that overlay the various editable pieces of content on a site. It's one of the things that sets us apart from most other dashboard-based systems. So, it is with great pleasure that we introduce the newest version of LightCMS's Element functionality, to be released very soon. Take a look below at everything that's new.

    The New Element Toolbars

    First off, we've redesigned the Element Toolbars. You're used to seeing black bars at the top of each element. Our new toolbars are more modern and discreet. They're designed to blend into your site while still serving their main purpose of marking your elements and providing access to the element menus. The element menus themselves have been redesigned as well, sporting fresh new custom icons. Take a look at the new toolbars and menus in the image below.

    Image of the Redesign LightCMS Element Toolbars

    The New Add Element Bar

    Next, we've updated the Add Element bar found at the bottom of each editable region. The old Add Element bar was a thick, black bar with the same weight as the Element Toolbars. We felt this made it difficult to distinguish between the tops of elements and the bottoms of regions. We have replaced this bar with an add element button and a thin line to mark the location where you can add elements when in edit mode. This approach more naturally blends with the design of your site while at the same time subtly marking those locations where you can add elements.

    As before, the Element Toolbars and Add Element buttons are displayed only in edit mode to logged-in administrators. See the new Add Element Bar in the image below.

    The redesigned LightCMS Add Element bar

    The Add Element Modal: Beautiful, Responsive Design with Fewer Clicks

    Now comes the most exciting change — the new Add Element modal. Clicking the Add Element button now brings up a beautifully-designed, responsive modal with fresh, custom icons representing each of the available elements. Simply click (or touch) the element you want and it is immediately added to your page. See the Add Element Modal in the image below.

    LightCMS's redesigned Add Element modal

    The modal adapts to the size of your device's screen, enabling you to easily add elements on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Plus, if you're a click counter, you'll notice that the new modal requires two fewer clicks for every element you add!

    Sharing is the New "Copy"

    We've also updated our copy element functionality. For one thing, we're now calling it "share" instead of "copy." For the most part, sharing an element works just as copying an element used to work. With sharing, you can place an element in multiple locations across your website. Updating the content of the element in one location automatically updates it everywhere it is shared.

    However, we have made one big improvement in sharing vs. copying. Previously, when you copied an element, you had to select the element you wanted from a dropdown list that included every single element on your site. This list of elements could get very long and it could be quite cumbersome and time-consuming to select the element you wanted.

    So, we've addressed this issue by creating a new Is Shareable property on the advanced settings of every element (see the image below). Now, only those elements that are marked as shareable are included in the share element list. By default, new elements will not be marked as shareable. However, when we release this new feature, we will automatically mark any element that you have currently copied as shareable.

    All you have to do to share an element is to select the "Share an Element from Another Part of Your Site" dropdown list on the Add Element modal (see image of the modal above). Remember, this list displays only the elements you have marked as shareable, so if you don't see the element you want, you'll need to go to the Advanced tab in that element's settings and check the Is Shareable checkbox.

    But Wait, There's More!

    The new Element UI is a major upgrade and a big step forward for the LightCMS Platform. However, there are some other features, enhancements and resolved issues included in Release 2014.9 as well. For full details, see the 2014.9 Release Notes below.

    Launching on September 2nd

    Because of the significance of the changes in this release, we felt it important to give you advance notice of what is coming in 2014.9. These changes are tentatively scheduled for release on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. We look forward to bringing you these updates soon!


    Release Notes for 2014.9

    New Features

    • Added an Is Shareable checkbox on the element settings Advanced tab. Selecting this box marks the element as shareable, and it makes it available for selection on the shared element dropdown list on the Add Element modal.
    • Introduced the Add Element modal, offering a completely redesigned, mobile-friendly experience for adding elements to a page. This also reduces the number of clicks required to add an element by 50%.

    Enhancements

    • Redesigned the Element Toolbars, giving them a more modern and discreet appearance.
    • Improved the appearance of the Add Element bar.
    • Reduced the Element Toolbar markup and sped up the addition of an element.

    Resolved Issues

    • The checkout page would hang when the user entered the zip code if the currency format used periods for the thousands separator and commas for the decimal.
    • For accounts on the Partner Platform, the Update Subscription page should allow a maximum 10x markup. However, the page allowed only a 5x markup, which is the maximum markup for legacy accounts not on the Partner Platform. The page now allows a maximum 10x markup for partner accounts.
    • USPS First Class shipping was not calculated and presented as a shipping option for the customer, even when it was selected as an option in the store settings.
    • Clicking the HTML button on the UI resulted in a minor display issue of the text field.
    • The text area on the Blog Summary, Checkout and Payments Page, and on the Policies tab extended below the bottom of the frame, blocking the WYSIWYG controls located at the bottom of the field.
    • Selecting the HTML button on the text editor displayed the HTML code, but clicking the Design button did not revert back to WYSIWYG mode, and the editor continued to display HTML code.
    • Changes made within the Image Editor were not saved.
  • Run Your Design Business Without Giving Up Your Life

    Finding and maintaining a healthy work/life balance is a never-ending challenge for almost everyone. Finding that balance is especially difficult for those who run their own businesses, and if they aren’t careful, their businesses may have a tendency to run them. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

    Photo of the Granata family working with LightCMS at their home

    Take, for example, Hannah and Eric Granata. The Oklahoma-based couple has four young children, two giant dogs, a cat, and a few other pets. They educate their children at home and Eric works at a full-time job for a promotional products distributorship. Plus, in their “spare" time, they also own and operate Screen Four Solutions, a creative design and branding company specializing in developing beautiful, practical websites for a growing base of clients.

    Their key to success is keeping things simple. Creating simple solutions to complex problems is a difficult task, but the Granatas have made a business of it, with the help of technology like the LightCMS content management system. With LightCMS, the Granatas are able to run and grow a profitable website business while still enjoying a very full life together as a family. In fact, the success and portability of Screen Four Productions allows them to dream of one day taking their life on the road.

    “We’ve always had an idea that one day maybe we’ll sell everything and travel the country in an RV or something,” Eric Granata says with a smile. "Since we homeschool the kids we can educate them anywhere. And with Screen Four and LightCMS, we can still generate income no matter where we are. It’s a dream, anyway. A pretty nice dream.”

    In the video below, the Granatas give us a sneak peek into their busy lives and share how LightCMS has lightened their load so they can find the balance between meeting the needs of their clients and enjoying life with their family.

    Read more about the Granatas and how LightCMS meets the needs of their business on their full story page.

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