People love Perch: Graham Street

We love to hear how much People love Perch and this interview is with Graham Street of Streets Ahead.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am Graham Street and I run Streets Ahead. We are a website building and hosting company based on the South Coast near Worthing. We’ve been trading for 10 years and started up after I took voluntary redundancy from a software company where I built and ran their worldwide sites. I decided it was time to be in charge of my own destiny. My background is programming, marketing, systems programming, analysis and design.

We build websites and provide website management and hosting for quite a large customer base, that’s grown over the 10 years. We don’t actually do design work for the sites we build. We’ve been working with two independent graphics designers for many years. We know our limitations and so we work with people who can bring the right graphic design skills to our and their customers’ projects.

What sites have you used Perch on recently?

We build a variety of sites for different types and sizes of organisations, and we’ve also created a number of online shops. Almost every site that we’ve built or worked on in the past year has included or been based on Perch. Our customers are wanting content managed sites but, like us, they are not wanting them to look like all the other content-managed sites. We always avoided using a CMS that forces you to design and build around it. We dabbled with WordPress and even built our own small CMS and incorporated it into a few sites. Neither solution was ideal – and then we found Perch and couldn’t wait for the first site we could add it into.

FOXY Lady Drivers Club is one of several FOXY sites that we have built and managed for Steph Savill over a few years. The Club website was due for a redesign, so we decided to use Perch in the process. Every page uses Perch, allowing Steph complete control over the content and even the meta tags. That also includes all the secure members pages (although not yet using the new Perch members app).

During the build process we worked with a skeleton or wire framed website, allowing Steph to prepare and add all the content, only adding the design CSS in the final stages. We very recently added a revised news section incorporating a ‘Hall of Fame’, motor industry news, car reviews and car information. These news sections are all based around the Perch Blog app. In a similar style to the FOXY Club website we’ve created FOXY Lady Insurance from scratch with Perch, and we’re retrospectively adding Perch to FOXY Choice while we’re doing some new enhancements to this site.

Allfield Financial Group wanted the ability to maintain content on all pages, so we created the site with Perch in mind from the start. Like the FOXY site, we partially built the site and handed content control to Allfield so that they could prepare and check everything. We then applied the final designs to the site just a few days before going live. The News page is repeating regions and we pull the latest story onto the home page using Perch content custom.

Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group have had their site for a number of years, but only updated it now and again (which we did for them). When they started to come back to us quite regularly, we proposed retrospectively adding Perch into the site to give them that content control. In just a few hours’ work, and with 10 minutes training over the phone, they are now maintaining their own website content.

Mid Sussex South CVS wanted a redesign of their site, to something more modern and attractive. They were used to using a CMS from the previous site authors, but had found it difficult to manage. The redesign and rebuild of their site was one of our first Perch projects. Almost all the site content is under their control. The News area is repeating regions, with the latest summarised on the home page, and the Events app is used to show their room bookings and important upcoming events. When they took over the content of their site, we offered training in Perch but found it wasn’t necessary as they very quickly understood it and were off and running.

A number of other sites are currently in progress, with live dates in the coming weeks – and almost all involve Perch in some way or another.

Why did you choose Perch?

We avoided CMS systems for a few years, but we felt we had to offer what our customers needed. We’ve happily maintained customers’ websites content for them but, as the number have grown, we’ve found it difficult to keep up with those requests (and still find time to create new sites). After developing a couple of WordPress sites, we decided that wasn’t the way we wanted to go. And other CMS systems we investigated or tried were too rigid in their requirements of installing their ‘framework’ and then having to bend it to suit our designs.

We have found that Perch is perfectly suited to the way we want to work. We want to allow our designers free reign to design what the customer wants, without wondering whether we can bend a CMS to make it do that. With Perch, the CMS is almost secondary as the site design takes priority and we don’t have to change the way we build sites (which is hand coded HTML and CSS). We love the way that Perch doesn’t dictate how to create websites, but just takes care of the content in an easy to use way.

How do the content creators and site owners find working with Perch?

Well, they love it. The longest we’ve spent with anyone doing any training is around 30 minutes. Any occasional questions are handled over the phone and, now and again, we’ve altered a template to make things just a little easier – reacting to customer usage or as we’ve picked up some new Perch skills. Here’s what a couple of our customers have told us …

“Perch means we can keep our website content relevant, timely and up to date at all times. It hits the spot because it’s so flexible, on call 24 hours a day, affordable and very easy to use.” – Steph Savill, FOXY Lady Drivers Club

“Since our website went live I have been using Perch to update and add news to the site. I have found it an extremely easy and straightforward program to use and have been impressed that during the few months I have been using it, improvements have been made to by Perch demonstrating they are an organisation constantly looking to improve their service.” – Sue Rabbett, Office Manager, Mid Sussex South CVS

Perch – the future for Streets Ahead

We love the fast responses to questions or suggestions from the Perch team. The Perch forum is starting to get a little busier now, so more suggestions and ideas are coming via that. The Podcast is a great addition to ways of keeping up to date with the fast moving world of Perch.

We are looking forward to using the Members App soon, because we’ve quoted for a revised website that will need it. We have a Perch blog going into a website soon, and we have some more existing sites that will need Perch retrospectively adding as well. We’ve also got a couple of requests for forums so we’re looking at what to use. Any chance of a Perch App for that, I wonder?