People love Perch: Urs Bräm
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company or who you work for?
I’m an independent web designer in Bern, Switzerland. I studied literature and have done quite a bit of off theatre work, but I’ve been developing and creating websites since 1999. Yes, Macromedia Flash back then. Sometimes people ask me if there isn’t a big gap between literature, theatre and – what they see as – programming. I tell them no. It’s about communication, stories, content, hand crafted structures.
We have a coworking space in the old city centre and do a lot of work for regional clients, also for the government. For large sites I use TYPO3, which is a great tool and has given me a lot. But whenever somebody asks for a smaller site I rejoice … because it’s time to grab a perch.
What sites have you used Perch on recently?
kunstgriff.ch – this was a retrofit, adding Perch to a static website, which used to be partially fed by Posterous. I’ve added perch_blog for news and plugged the RSS-Feed into IFTTT for auto-posting to Twitter. The full control that Perch gives me over the output makes this work easy.
centraldubs.com – A responsive site for an audio studio
mobilityjackpot.ch – A product site in German and French. The product itself is a web app that is running on a separate PHP framework, sharing the HTML template with the product site.
vatter.ch – A local business site which is being actively maintained and regularly tweaked. The company has three branches: meeting room rentals, spa and courses, and a café/organic shop. Each business has its own section of the website with individual templates.
kulturbuero.ch – A large site for a shop that allows artists to cheaply rent great equipment. This site has five completely separate editing environments. Each section has its own database, while the code is shared. There are 4 German and 1 French sections.
This site has now become even more complex, as we are featuring artist’s work in a background image, with the aim of adding slideshows and sound in the future, and we didn’t want the page to refresh at each click. To achieve this we have built an insane AJAX-Loader around the Perch content which makes the website behave like an ajaxy web app – while refreshing the URLs in modern browsers (thanks to www.asual.com/jquery/address/).
Why did you choose Perch?
I came across Perch after seeing the banner on 24ways.org and discovered it solved problems I had been trying to solve for a long time. These being retrofitting existing sites; a good solution for small sites; and a lack of bulky CMS markup.
I noticed that the developers came from a web standards background, and would be implementing best practices. Also, the company is connecting with customers in a very transparent way. Being clear about what is likely to be developed for the product, while being very open to feedback.
Perch is fun to work with as a developer. It is fast to implement and run, has a tiny footprint on the server (so it’s climate friendly), it’s reliable and easy to use for clients, it is a sensible price … and it even has a podcast! However the main reason I like Perch is the “structured content” approach.
Structured content is exactly what we and our clients need. Clients are happy about the restrictions of a content template, so they know they can add stuff quickly and the site won’t break. As a designer and developer I’m happy that it’s much easier to exactly control all of the markup output on the page.
How do the content creators/site owners find working with Perch?
I give them MarkItUp (the default editor in Perch) all the time, as I don’t want to have the problems caused by cut and paste Microsoft Word markup or other HTML.
Nobody goes “wow” when they log in for the first time. They learn Markdown … and then that’s basically it. If I ask my clients how they like the CMS, they might say “It’s fine, it works well” – Perch is simply not getting in the way.