Hi! Drew from Perch here.
Just to be sure @Zander’s circumstance is clear, he only posted twice for support and seemed happy with the help he got in both cases. After 3 days with the product and frustration getting his local MAMP dev environment set up, he asked for a refund. We processed the refund same day and wished him well.
One of the most difficult challenges in software design is being both simple and powerful. Throw in ‘flexible’ and you have a simple-powerful-flexible Triple Constraint triangle. Pick two. In fact, hitting even one is hard.
We try and make Perch very quick and easy for the simple cases. That enables you to get up and running with some content managed pages pretty simply. Once you want to get into more advanced techniques and building more complex pages, there’s a bit more learning to do. Some will take to that easier than others, which is fine.
It’s a bit like CSS. Learning some simple CSS to apply font styling is quick and easy – most people could master the basics in under an hour. Want to lay out an entire page with a grid system and have it work in multiple browsers? That’s more work – and it’s not just learning syntax, you have to understand some fundamentals about things like floats, inline and block layout, media queries, the box model, all sorts. It’s not super difficult, it just takes time and bunch of learning.
And that’s what we all do if we’re professional designers and developers who are charging clients money to build them websites. They’re paying us to have this expertise, and to implement it on their project. That’s the job, and it’s one that most of us love.
As for designing documentation, man, that’s so hard to do. I think we must have been through maybe five or six designs for our docs in the 7 years Perch has been going. The massive, massive challenge with documentation is that everyone needs something different and thinks about documentation in a different way. Finding a structure that matches the needs of every user in every circumstance is impossible. The other challenge is we have a lot of it.
At the moment our approach is to put all the docs for templates together, and then all the docs for retrieving content together. (The alternative approach would be to cluster things by function, or by task.) This tends to work well, but you need to understand some fundamental principles first. To address that, we have a massive amount of video content, including a full walkthrough from installation to building a site. And then we try to have good search on top of it all.
It’s not perfect, but we have put a lot of thought and work into it – it’s not just random. And yes, there’s 14 items in the global navigation on that page, but in three hierarchies. This page as 13. Usability is more important than accountancy.
Hope that’s helpful!