Website & eCommerce Articles

LightCMS Partner Platform Review – Content Management Platform

by Matthew Stibbe
Published on 2 September 2014

The LightCMS Partner Platform is a user-friendly content management platform that provides web designers with a suite of tools to easily design and manage websites for multiple clients.

Light CMS Review

(This review is based upon information provided by the vendor and gathered through independent research. The vendor provided detailed product specifications and marketing materials and an in-depth product demonstration as well as contributing directly to the report. Further research was conducted surrounding business needs, market competition and software functionality.)

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While many content management systems (CMS) rely on you installing software, managing your own server or learning unfamiliar programming languages, the LightCMS Partner Platform seeks to take the effort and expense out of website design.

Building on the success of the LightCMS product, which provides customers with intuitive web design and e-commerce functionality, the LightCMS Partner Platform gives companies that sell websites to their customers a suite of flexible tools to design and manage websites for their clients and a way to keep track of them all in the same place.

  • Web design made easy. The LightCMS Partner Program removes the complications of website creation. Nothing to install, nothing to host. The user-friendly design tools mean you don't even have to touch code. But if you do want to dive into the nitty-gritty, you can edit the code in familiar coding languages and even download the source code to make more substantial changes. You can work the way you want.

  • Bringing it all together. The LightCMS Partner Platform brings all of your websites together in the same place, allowing you to manage your clients more effectively along with their websites and billing.

  • SaaS savings. As a cloud-hosted, software-as-a-service platform, the LightCMS Partner Platform saves you money and effort. There's no complex software to install or host and you don't have to manage your own servers.

  • Passing on the benefits. More than this, partners using the platform can offer their clients the LightCMS Unlimited Plan (usually $99 a month) for over 80 percent off the retail price.

  • Responsive design. Flexible and responsive design for all devices is supported at the design level. Additionally, the LightCMS image element uses adaptive image technology to deliver images at the proper resolution for any device, including retina displays.

  • E-commerce built in. The LightCMS product has a simple but powerful e-commerce platform built in at no additional cost, letting partners' clients benefit from it out of the box.

In essence, the LightCMS Partner Platform combines an intuitive, versatile CMS with tools designed to remove the complexity and cost of web development for agencies and their clients.

Business Needs

The LightCMS Partner Platform builds on the success of the LightCMS product, taking the hassle out of website design and management for those companies that design websites for multiple clients by gathering them all in one place.

The user-friendly tools and design capabilities enable partners to develop websites with the responsiveness and e-commerce functionality that clients now demand.

With the rising use of smartphones and tablets amongst both consumers and businesses, this sort of responsive design is a must rather than a mode. Indeed, 62 percent of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales, according to a survey by Econsultancy.

The LightCMS Partner Platform also gives partners more control of their own businesses. The platform is a white- or private-label product, allowing customers to resell to their clients under their own brand, and the ability for partners to sell websites at a price of their choosing (with a base price of $19) means they can control their own margins.

In addition, with no need to install and host the software on your own servers, you can concentrate on growing your business.

Customers

The majority of LightCMS's partner network are small web design companies with fewer than 30 employees and individuals who specialise in web design, whether freelancers or home businesses.

In addition, advertising and marketing agencies and IT consultants can use it to offer websites to complement their primary services.

Although there are no hard figures on the number of partners (the LightCMS Partner Platform has only recently been released), LightCMS currently has over 175,000 users and has tens of thousands of websites running on its system.

LightCMS, with its focus on simple, flexible web design and e-commerce functionality, is well positioned to tap into a market that is currently dominated by WordPress.

Competition

LightCMS's greatest competition is from open source software, such as WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal, that pervades the CMS market.

The company's single biggest competitor is WordPress, but LightCMS has a few points that distinguish it from its larger rival:

  • LightCMS is a cloud-hosted SaaS, while WordPress is primarily build-and-install software.

  • This means that, although WordPress is ostensibly free, there are the hidden costs of time and management. As a SaaS, LightCMS saves you time, effort and money.

  • The LightCMS Partner Platform also lets you effortlessly scale up your business. You don't need to spend time dealing with hosting and managing servers.

LightCMS also competes against cloud-hosted tools like Squarespace, although the latter is aimed at end users rather than web design companies wanting to rein in all of their websites into one account. In addition, the LightCMS Partner Platform offers more user-friendly custom design features than Squarespace; Squarespace requires users to learn much more of their code and language, while LightCMS lets you work the way you're used to.

Another competitor is Adobe Business Catalyst, which targets a similar market of designers and partners, but it's much larger in scope, offering features like email marketing, customer relationship management and reporting. LightCMS's strength lies in its specialisation and ease of use.

Differentiators

The LightCMS Partner Platform has been developed to allow web design companies to quickly and easily deploy websites for their clients with intuitive and familiar, yet powerful, tools.

Several features in particular make the platform stand out from the crowd:

  • User-friendly and flexible. The user interface is clean and clear and the design tools are as simple or as in-depth as you like. LightCMS comes with pre-designed but customisable templates for people who prefer not to code while more technical designers can use familiar coding languages or download and adapt existing source code to produce the desired results.

  • SaaS pricing. Because there's nothing to install or host on premise, there's little capital expenditure involved. This also means partners can pass the savings onto their clients with large discounts on pricing.

  • No hidden costs. Once you've paid the annual subscription fee for the LightCMS Partner Platform there are no hidden costs in either time or money - every feature is included.

  • Scalability. As a cloud-hosted SaaS platform, the LightCMS Partner Platform allows you to scale your business without worrying about server management or availability. You can focus on your work rather than the mechanism behind it.

Pricing

The LightCMS Partner Platform requires an annual subscription of $495 a yearfee and is only available through LightCMS's sales team.

Once in the program, LightCMS Partner Platform customers can offer websites to their clients on the LightCMS Unlimited Plan, allowing unlimited pages, users, storage and products for a base price of $19 per website per month (regularly $99 per month). Partners can mark up this discounted pricing and charge their clients an amount of their choosing. This 80 percent discount on pricing and the ability to set custom client pricing allows partners to resell websites to their clients and add an optional commission.

After the annual subscription fee there are no hidden costs or additional charges. All LightCMS features, including hosting, are provided at no extra charge.

Product Features

| Feature and benefits | Screenshot | | The user interface is very clean and simple. The toolbar at the top lets you quickly switch between sections The 'star' on the far left of the toolbar is where you can place your brand logo. | white image Screenshot 1 | | The toggle on the left of the toolbar allows you to switch between the e-commerce platform editor or the website editor. | screenshot2 | | You can easily switch between edit and preview mode. | Screenshot3 | | When in edit mode you can view the various regions and elements that you can edit.You can drag and drop any file from your desktop and it'll determine how to use it, parsing a Word document into text format or turning an image into a gallery. | Screenshot4 | | Elements include blogs, forms, images, product listings and much more. | Screenshot5 | | You can also easily add a new page by clicking this button on the right hand toolbar in edit mode. | screenshot6 | | The Design tab on the top toolbar takes you to the design management view. | screenshot7 | | Here you can select from a gallery of free designs and view any designs you've used previously | screenshot8 | | The user-friendly design editor means you don't have to edit the code at all | screenshot9 | | You can, however, also edit the code using CSS, Javascript and HTML, or download and adapt the source file to create what you want. You can also access code via FTP so you can work how you want with the tools you're used to using. | Screenshot 10 | | The intuitive e-commerce platform lets you sell both physical and digital products. You can put product information on any page and it will sync with the store. Product listing is not just limited to one page. | Screenshot 11 | | Here you can establish variants (colour, size, etc), properties, description and more. | Screenshot 12 | | Inventory tracking and order management are included. It's not designed to be the most comprehensive, complex e-commerce platform, but it provides you with simple, flexible e-commerce functionality. | Screenshot 13 | | Ecommerce customers can be exported to customer relationship management software. | Screenshot 14 | | The Account area gives you a quick overview of your activities and lets you manage all aspects of your account, including clients and billing. The Profits and Reseller Program tabs are exclusive to the LightCMS Partner Platform customers. | Screenshot 15 | | The Reseller Program tab is where you can custom-brand LightCMS and sort out client billing. There is a base price of $19 per month but resellers can add a mark up to increase their earnings. | Screenshot 16 | | The Websites tab allows you to track all of your websites in one place. The blue button (only available to Partner Platform accounts - standard accounts can only have one website) lets you quickly add a new site. No need for a new server instance or WordPress installation. Websites are sold through a self-service upgrade process built into the system. Partner Platform customers can use client billing functionality and allow clients to upgrade themselves, at a price set by the Partner | Screenshot 17 |

Specifications

Web browser requirements

  • Compatible with all modern browsers

Database requirements

  • The LightCMS Partner Platform is a SaaS application, so it is hosted by LightCMS.

Updates

  • The software is updated continually and all LightCMS customers receive the benefit of every update at no extra cost.

Integrations

  • The Light CMS e-commerce function supports payment processing through Authorize.net, Stripe and PayPal (including Standard, Payflow and Website Payments Pro).
  • Any integration that is possible using HTML, CSS or JS is also supported.

Security and availability

  • LightCMS's privacy policy can be found here: http://www.lightcms.com/privacy-policy
  • LightCMS's servers are located in NetSuite's data centres.
  • Details about LightCMS's infrastructure and security can be found here: http://www.lightcms.com/hosting
  • The company generates multiple backups of its entire system both locally and remotely to secure off-site locations.

Training and support

  • LightCMS Partner Platform members have access to a dedicated Account Manager as well as Gold Level Priority support from the company's support team.
  • All LightCMS customers receive email support at no additional charge.

Free Trial

  • A free trial is available for LightCMS, but not the LightCMS Partner Platform.

Recommendations

The LightCMS Partner Platform gives web designers the functionality and responsive design capability of a more expensive system without the cost and passes these benefits on to the end user:

  • Simple but powerful. The LightCMS Partner Platform's ease of use and versatility is most noticeable in its design features, allowing you to alter pre-set designs or code in languages with which you're familiar, rather than forcing you to learn new code. It is what you make of it.

  • Cost-effective. Because the platform is hosted by LightCMS, the system is fully scalable and there's nothing to install and no servers to run so you're free to concentrate on your clients and building up your business without worrying about maintenance fees and the costs of growth.

  • Partner perks. Customers of the LightCMS Partner Platform automatically get Gold Level Priority support from the company's support team and access to a dedicated account manager.

  • Focus. Unlike some other CMS platforms, the LightCMS Partner Platform solely specializes in website and online store functionality. It knows what it does best and it delivers.

Ultimately, the LightCMS Partner Platform eliminates the hassles involved in designing and managing websites for clients, meaning savings on both time and cost for partners and their clients.

Want to learn more about LightCMS? Sign up for a free trial today!


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