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Software Review: Lightbox Photo™ Gallery Software, Part 2

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This is the second in a three-part review about Lightbox Photo™ Gallery Software from Lightbox Photo™. I have broken this down into three parts because of the overall encompassing nature of this product and to try to work it down into a single review would do the product an injustice. The three areas I will cover are an overview of the software and to look at what it takes to install and setup of the Lightbox Photo™, what are the existing features of the product, and what are new features of the latest version of the software. In this one I will look at some of the features of Lightbox Photo™ Gallery Software.

Lightbox Photo™ is very feature rich. So rich in fact that there is no way to go into all that it can do. What I want to do instead is look at some of the functionalities that make it worth having. If you want to see everything, there is a feature list online. While not all of the features are available in every version, these are all in the enterprise edition.

Lightbox Photo™ Gallery Software• Customer Manager helps you manage your customer base. Here you can set up the registration form to handle what ever information you need to collect. It supports an unlimited number of form fields that you can add to or remove from. From this information you can manage your client base.

• Media Manager is a core function of the gallery administration. It displays all of the categories and the media that exists in the database. From here you can add, edit, remove, and manage everything. It gives you the ability to approve other photographers' media, add global pricing, add access to users for private galleries, search the media, watermark, and assign IPTC metadata to the gallery.

• License Manager exists in the enterprise version and enables you to create and assign rights managed licenses for your digital media. This will allow you to set various options for licensing your media. This way you can set up one option for image use, another for what it is used for, another for the size of the image, another for the size of the run, etc. Each of the items can stand alone, or rely on other options. You can then set pricing for each of the options and their derivatives. That is for print run, you can have one price for fewer than 50,000, another for 50,001 to 500,000, and so on.

• Order Manager gives you the ability to manage your customer's orders. When orders come into the system they will either be completed or pending (not paid for). It is through this that you can send invoices, process the order, or remove the order. The order system will handle promotion codes, and display statuses such as "shipped" back to the customer. You can customize the invoices, view, export, and print sales reports,

• Payment Gateways let you configure and set up the payment gateway(s) that you want use for processing the customer purchases during the checkout process. There are 17 gateways and an offline payment processing method for you to use. Keep in mind that you will have to open up accounts with these gateways to use them.

• Photographer Manager in the enterprise version, will allow you to let outside photographers upload and sell their own digital goods on your site. The system calculates the commission due to the photographer based on the rate that is set in the photographer settings section. This will also generate sales reports for each of the photographers.

• Product Manager gives you the ability to sell your media. Here you will need to setup at least one product type, but the software supports an unlimited number. It is here that you can assign prices for items, product types, and categories. The system allows for the end-user to instantly download media files as soon as the payment is completed. The enterprise version also allows you to offer subscription products, packages of products as well as options such as frames from within your gallery.

• Promotion Manager lets you give out promotion codes that the customer can enter during the checkout process, or they can be automatically applied if the purchase amount reaches a defined criteria. The promotion can be a value amount or a percentage of sales.

• Public and Private Galleries are where customer can come to look for, find, and add to their cart the individual media files. There is a lightbox that displays the customer's current active contents. You can define the number of images per page, as well as setting up a 'featured media' section to promote certain images. The public gallery is where one can go without logging in, and the private is where you must have an event ID and password to gain access.

• Shipping Manager is where you can handle how you want to charge your customers for shipping. If you do not have products that require shipping you can disable this feature or you can choose from single item, flat rate, flat rate-zone, or product type shipping.

• Tax Manager will allow you to tax any order based on a defined set of variables. The available variables are drawn from the registration form fields. The tax will be applied if the details match the variables and will be added to the order total after any discounts, but before any shipping charges. The system will handle sales tax or VAT taxing.

• Template Customization gives you the ability to modify the look and feel of your gallery. You can use the standard set of templates or they can be edited to match an existing look and feel, or you can even replace the existing ones with totally new ones that you create from the ground up. Keep in mind that you need to have some familiarity with the technology to do this yourself.

Lightbox Photo™ Gallery SoftwareLightbox Photo™ Gallery can be used out of the box as a sandalone Web site, or integrated into an existing site. As I said earlier, there are three versions and each of those versions can come as branded or un-branded. The un-branded version gives you the ability to remove any reference to Lightbox Photo™ from the site. With the branded, you must keep the "Powered by Lightbox Photo™ Gallery Software" at the bottom of the page. The Standard edition is $399, the Professional is $599, and the Enterprise is $999 with the unbranded versions going for an addtional $100.

Lightbox Photo™ Software Gallery is fully customizable, but for that you will have to have some programming abilities (or find someone who has these skills). If you don't, the company has an offer to do it for you for a reasonable price. If you want to check out how others have customized their sites, check out the galleries.

All in all I found Lightbox Photo™ to be very feature rich and easy to work with. It was a breeze to set up, and just as easy to get around in.

In the next part I will look at what is new in version 4.x and what it can add to your business. If you want to set up your own gallery or stock photo site, then I highly recommend that you check out Lightbox Photo™. With the right version, it can get your business started off right.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.