Light Page Stack

Nick Cates Design | $40.00

Because of the way it’s pitched – as a way to build an online shop with thumbnails that open into full pages – it’s easy to underestimate Light Page and wonder why it costs forty bucks. However, delve a little deeper and it becomes clear that this is a powerful set of stacks that has many applications above and beyond creating an attractive shopfront. In fact, we can envisage this being used for shops, photo galleries, portfolios with mixed content, product catalogues, staff pages – anything where you need a responsive grid of images that open to reveal more content. 

Light Page includes three stacks – the Page Base enabler stack, a Page Single stack for creating the detailed content asociated with each thumbnail, and Video header stack which we’ll come to in a bit. Drop the Page Base stack onto a Stacks page and then add as many Page Single stacks as you have products. Add an image into the Page Single stack and then whatever other content you require – we created some nice layouts using Nick Cates’ own Production stacks but equally Light Page comes with a built-in Sidebar Layout which automatically creates two uneven columns into which you can add text, headers, buttons or whatever. The image is used to generate the thumbnail automatically (though there’s also an option to choose a different image for the thumbnail if you like). In this way it’s very quick to build up a page of product thumbnails which, when clicked, reveal a page of more detailed information, complete with Previous and Next controls, so you don’t have to return to the thumbnail page to navigate. 

You get plenty of visual control over the appearance of the thumbnail grid, the aspect ratio of the thumbs, spacing and so on, as well as the ability to add captions (which can usefully be hidden on smaller devices to save screen real estate). Alternatively, if you’re not keen on a uniform grid (perhaps you’re a photographer and less happy about having your photos cropped without your say-so) you can use the ‘Freewall’ option which displays thumbs in masonry style wall where some can be larger than others or display in portrait as well as landscape mode. 

Remember the third stack? This is the Embed Video Header stack which makes it possible to use a Vimeo or YouTube video at the top of a Light Page entry. When you get the code for the video, just take a quick screen grab and then use that as the cover picture which will then automatically generate the thumbnail. You can also mix and match video and still content like this to produce a sophisticated multimedia gallery. Or – returning to the shop theme briefly – we think that Light Page could be combined with Yuzool’s Dropkick CMS to create an online shop that customers could update themselves; we’ve not had a chance to test this out yet, but can’t think of a reason why it wouldn’t be a great way to set up an inexpensive e-commerce CMS. 

There are loads of nice touches throughout the stack – like the ability to switch into Quick Sort view and then drag and drop Light Page entires into a different order; this is fantastically useful if you’re creating lots of entries on a smaller screen because it reduces the amount of scrolling you have to do to a minimum. Each page also generates its own unique URL and because Facebook and Twitter sharing is built-in, you can take advantage of this straight away, offering visitors a chance to post or tweet about a specific product or photo or portfolio entry. Light Page is quick too, and there’s no lag between clicking on a thumbnail and seeing the associated page open. 

Light Page is powerful enough and versatile enough to be the centrpiece of any website that uses e-commerce has a portfolio or a product catalogue and although the price seems high at first, it does so much of the work for you and is so elegantly executed that we think it’s still good value. 

Rob Beattie

Rob Beattie is a freelance copywriter who designs sites using Rapidweaver. He's been reviewing computer hardware, software and web services since 1981. Yes...that long. And he's also the author of 101 Things to Do in a Shed , Fishing: A Very Peculiar History , and The Bluffer's Guide to Fishing