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Talking about it:

There is a little detail that is so obvious, that one can oversee it. On your site you don’t differentiate between documentation and a user guide. Its “Documentation” only. There are tuts and explanations and stuff, but there is basically no user guide.

If you already had 6 re-designs of your docs in 7 years, than you are holding it wrong. Its a sign that you are in a trap. It doesn’t make sense to shuffle complexity around in different clusters while being in the need of adding more to it. You need to straighten things out.

A good way to un-complex things would be to separate stuff into these two major blocks. A user guide and a documentation. You could have all the nerdy details in the documentation and create a real world user guide. An area with tutorials, how-tos and pitfall-avoiding hints. And since Perch is mostly about inserting lines of php into html, provide a first class cheatsheet with those commands plus an reminder or a hint of what they do and where to go for a deeper explanation.

You could separate this user guide area into three sections:

  1. Getting started
  2. Keep going

  3. Heavy Lifting

You could draw the line for “getting started” after simple templating.

Think of your docs and a possible user guide as an app. Let real world average users use and test it. And get a designer.