LightCMS is a cloud-based platform built for creating websites and online stores. It offers a set of web design tools for individuals, non-profits, and small to medium-size businesses that want to communicate, conduct business, and sell their products online.
Key features of LightCMS include:
- Instant setup and a free trial
- Top-tier cloud hosting
- Website and eCommerce features
- Every feature is available on every plan
- Large selection of design templates
- Responsive design included for mobile and tablet devices
- Advanced users can create their own custom designs
- Drag and drop content editing
- Galleries with adaptive image technology
- Blogs, podcasts, and RSS feeds available
- Calendar events
- Drag and drop form builder
- Can add in donations and registrations
- eCommerce solution
- Secure shopping cart and checkout
- Search Engine Optimization tools
- Facebook Open Graph integration
- Dedicated support
- Free automatic upgrades
Taking LightCMS for a test drive
I created a free LightCMS account and then tested several features using the default template for a photographer-themed website. In this review, I highlight some of the steps I took to add textual and calendar event content while testing the platform.
(All screen captures of the LightCMS platform and site were taken from my desktop via Chrome 32.0.1700.107 m, and are modified to fit TechRepublic article dimension standards.)
To sign up for a free account, click the Sign Up For Free button that's in the middle of the LightCMS home page. You'll be taken to the account setup screen (Figure A), where you'll select either a single website or multiple websites and create your website by entering a site name (which will become %sitename%.publishpath.com). The online signup form also has fields for your email address, company name, first name, last name, and phone number. I chose single website and named it ryanboudreaux.
After you enter the form field data, click the Create My Account button (Figure B).
After a few moments, you'll see a five-slide deck that presents an overview of the platform (Figure C) with information about key features and support and online resources.
Once you click through the Continue button to finish viewing the introductory slide deck, you're taken to the default template and website dashboard panel, which opens to the home page (Figure D).
Notice the top right corner where LightCMS found my Google+ account icon. The first thing I did was enable the Edit Mode by selecting the Switch To Edit Mode button at the top right under my account icon and name. The Edit Mode screen is shown in Figure E.
I clicked the Text region just under the Photography title so I could enter a paragraph of content. The Text Settings dialog box for editing content is displayed in Figure F.
I entered "Add your content here!" and clicked the Save My Changes button. The resulting edit is displayed in the preview pane (Figure G). I added in the sample heading as shown in Figure G.
I wanted to add a new element, so I clicked the + Add Element button on the region bar (Figure G). The element options are Blog, Calendar, Donation, Evite, Files & Links, Form, Image, Login, Product Listing, and Text (Figure H).
I created a Calendar event and clicked the +Add button (Figure I).
The Calendar element is added to the edit panel, even though no events have been set (Figure J).
To add an event to the calendar, I hovered over the Calendar title/button and selected the + Add Event button (Figure K).
I was immediately taken to the Add A New Event panel (Figure L), where I added the event named Mardi Gras; a unique shortcut URL was created. Then, I selected the event's date and time and added a short description (text and an image), and clicked the + Add Event button.
The resulting calendar entry is displayed in Figure M.
Clicking the event title takes you to the event content page (Figure N).
The default theme also includes a Gallery page, a Blog page, a Store page, and a Read Me page, each with editable regions where elements can be added based on the content of the particular page (e.g., slideshows for the Gallery page and blog posts for the Blog page).
More advanced features include theme design editing including styles for background, images, site title fonts, headings, body fonts, and font colors. You can manage users' editing access on a per page basis and give each user defined roles. The Read Me page contains theme-based information and general customizing tutorials for topics such as colors and fonts, adding a company logo, changing the template for the site or for a page, changing the website name, and creating a slideshow.
- Personal: $19 a month, 10 pages, 1 GB storage, 100 products
- Standard: $29 a month, 25 pages, 3 GB storage, 1,000 products
- Premium: $49 a month, 50 pages, 6 GB storage, 2,500 products
- Professional: $69 a month, 100 pages, 12 GB storage, 5,000 products
- Unlimited: $99 a month, unlimited pages, unlimited storage, unlimited products
I only reviewed two of the features in my test drive: editing a page by adding in the sample header content and then adding and configuring a calendar event. However, its ease of use and key features make LightCMS a contender among cloud-based web design platforms for do-it-yourselfers and small business owners. Plus, the five pricing plans offer a wide range of options that I think will fit most budgets.
Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal government.