I assume a lot of copying/pasting. I just looked into it and I’m not a fan. I would essentially have to learn an entirely new way on how to structure my pages. Plus, I bet the SEO aspect is not nearly as great compared to WordPress. This appears to be targeted towards really small sites anyway.
@andy_unleash I dont believe the client would have to learn markdown to be able to edit content. There is an admin panel with a GUI for editing and adding content.
@ChristopherBurton yeah for a blog I would probably not use this. It seems like a viable option for static sites that need a “CMS” though.
But you can tweak WordPress (even the backend). I actually agree with some of your arguments. Especially it being really bulky. With my site, I literally create functions to hide things I do not use as they are pointless options to be seen. I’m a designer and I’m not that great with the development side of things but I think WordPress can be transformed into something everyone can use.
Perhaps WordPress doesn’t need to be the standard basis for every client. WordPress has certain functionality and features however that not all clients need. Josh, as you expressed, clients that only need to update or login here and there and have issues learning WordPress, maybe Perch would be the solution.
I had the worst experience with PERCH!! It is super easy for the client to use once you have got it up and running but it is really complex to use is you are not a developer but a designer like me. It was easy enough to create basic editable zones but if you want to do anything else you need to have extensive knowledge of PHP code and don’t expect Perch to help you. Their support system sucks big time. perch ended up costing me a LOT of time, money and stress. I ended up having to hire a developer and my clients are still angry at me because of the time it took and all the little glitches that keep coming up. So unless your a confident web developer I would say stay clear of perch!!!
Square space was recommended to me after I used perch and I reckon it is a step up from wordpress but haven’t used it myself yet.
Squarespace is in a tough position at the moment. From a developer’s stand point, it’s not something that I’d give to a client. Building custom themes and implementing them is troublesome. The biggest problem is that there is no ‘Theme Options’ panel where you could have toggleable fields (eg. Slider, Sidebar options, Color options, etc).
I’m not suggesting that WordPress is perfect for *every* project, though. I would say that’s it’s going to work for the majority.
If all you want to do is create simple editable zones than yes Perch is easy but as soon as you start to use any of their applications, such as galleries, events or calendars it can become very complicated. I’m glad you have a lot of support from Drew and Rachel Andy because I have found them incredibly unhelpful. I feel like every time I ask for help they just brush me off or say something incredibly obvious and unhelpful.
I ended up having to pay a developer to finish the project and there are still glitches, which funnily enough Rachel just palmed me off to this forum because she says it’s a CSS problem, which I don’t think it is.
Personally I don’t think developers should be recommending perch as a ‘easy’ CMS to designers, many designers just simply don’t have the skills to use it and the support provided is inadequate! I used it after being recommended by a developer on a similar forum and it is one of my few regrets in life. Perch wasted a lot of my time, caused me a lot of stress and cost me money. So Ben_boomer, unless your confident with PHP code I would stay well clear of Perch and stick with something like word press that seems to work for many people.
I had the same experience with Perch as @Ren. Making some editable areas was simple. But the moment I tried to take the next step it was awful.
Perch is advertised as giving a great support. And it is true – you get answers from the developers quickly. Mainly on their forum. But those answers were exactly like @Ren described them. Frugal. Short. Useless. In my opinion (my opinion) the developers of Perch lack empathy for non-developers. I could see, that questions dealing with complicated code problems were answered more thoroughly than stupid questions like mine.
All of my emails with questions I asked if Perch was the right thing for me, that I addressed to the developers before buying Perch, were ignored.
The documentation of Perch is very rich and complex but for me it was a labyrinth. Just to give an idea of how navigating through their support/documentation is in real life :
The main nav bar at the top of the documentation site has 14 menu items (fourteen). Then there is a sidebar with up to another 9 menu items. Thats 23 menu items. Plus sub menus. Plus links in the text. What Perch really needs is a designer. Not to pretty things up, but to manage their content.
I think it is remarkable that the developers of Perch offer a tool for managing content on the web and at the same time don’t seem to have an idea of how to manage their own content on the web for being accessed for understanding. At least by non-experienced developers, as in “ambitious starters”.
Now I guess that their software is actually excellent. But it is far from being “easy”.
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!
Was it 3 days? I thought it was four (plus some nights).
But you are probably right with what you say about the learning curve of this stuff in general. But since you only give 7 days to decide and get a refund, one has to hurry up with Perch.
For setting up MAMP, there is a tiny real world detail to know, which is provided by Chris Coyier in his Screencast on MAMP, because he obviously stumble into that same pitfall.
I think it would be a good idea to provide help for such real world pitfalls into a support documentation, when they have an effect on using your product. Even if that means giving support about someone else’s App. Like some people do, when they give a hint if things work differently on Mac or Windows. Its not a big deal, but it can help with the little things, that can drive you nuts and take for hours. The answer from the Perch support was basically: Ask the MAMP support. Now, that might be correct, but there is a better way to handle these things, especially when you praise yourself with your support.
Yes, I was happy with the support a user on your forum gave.
As for usability, I think this page is a good example of what I mean:
Its a wall.
Yes, there are video tutorials but they have the same character as your support answers. They don’t help so much if you are not a developer, who already knows the concepts of a CMS in more detail than just in general. If you want to address customers that aren’t full stack developers, than you might want to consider this problem.
And maybe this was my biggest misunderstanding. I hoped that Perch would give me, as being a beginner, an entrance into that. But it just didn’t.
Now, I don’t mean to troll Perch here. I also gave you some of my thoughts on improving your documentation and tutorials in an email. I would be glad if it was helpful.
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:
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.
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