Perch v4 license model

  • As Stephen Meehan stated, when you look at the update history page you can sense it is not being actively developed (although we know v4 is being worked on). First-party add-ons have been neglected too:

    • Perch Shop requires one urgent update (for European merchants using Stripe) and that is yet to be addressed
    • Perch Blog (widely used) has a few bugs (reported on the old forum last year)

    If it is already unsustainable, we'll either see changes or see the product die. Move to a more sustainable model and lose some customers in the process? Keep the current model, the extremely low release frequency and poor communication in order to retain some customers, but lose the product in the process?

    I don't care whether Drew/Rachel respond to this thread directly. This is more for us (customers) to discuss and share our thoughts which may give them some valuable feedback. For now regardless of what drewm and rachelandrew decide to do, I would love for them to communicate with us more (at least via announcements/tweets/blog posts). Frankly I don't think Drew/Rachel themselves would be happy customers if they were Perch customers at the moment.

    There’s lots of free software out there, but there are also lots of dead and abandoned projects. You don’t want that for your clients.

    Perch is not free, but seems closer to abandoned than actively maintained/improved. This is not something we want for our clients either. At least we can fork and improve an abandoned free open-source software if we really want to. We cannot do the same for Perch.

  • Despite of how negative I may sound, I'm actually sticking with Perch for the time being. I'm being overly critical because I think the feedback is reasonable and valuable.

    I think as a product, Perch still has its place in the market. And just like Fathom Analytics went from almost being shut down to tripling their monthly recurring revenue with the launch of v2, I believe Perch v4 can breathe a new life into the product (and the business).

    I am still excited about the direction of v4:

    • Improved control panel UI
    • Dark mode
    • Cloud backups for regular Perch
    • New add-ons directory (to which registered developers can publish their own add-ons)
    • Open-source docs (it is already on GitHub)

    And based on what we've seen on the forum:

    Plenty of work for a small team, but we know they are capable. Plus this is a major upgrade and the workload and the changes reflect that. Many on Slack shared their doubts on how good and modern the new control panel UI will be, so I hope it will exceed our expectations there.

    The disappointing thing has been the prolonged radio silences from the Perch team, but I think this can change. Though we have to be mindful of how many customers they have so we cannot expect them to respond to everything and still invest a lot of time in developing the product. Besides, a lot of the site building questions can be answered by the community.

  • I agree 100%. Perch is one of my favorite products to work with and I'm hopeful that v4 will be a breath of fresh air. I also agree that the lack of communication is very frustrating.

  • After running through all the comments, the conclusion seems to be that most users want much better communication and support, as well as (and less importantly) more frequent updates.

    I actually never have seen a gap this large between a product's high quality, and the lacking interest by its creators. If this can be addressed financially, that's good news for all of us.

    I'm also worried about the hints on abandoning add-ons that come with Perch natively. Some Perch apps, like e.g. the Forms app manages critically important back-end tasks, that are so useful for the many users who come to Perch with a front-end development-weighted skillset. I definitely hope that native addons won't go away, as they're USPs, and vital parts of the software itself.

    When I met Perch the first time in winter 2016, I asked on Slack chat whether I should invest time into learning it, so that it won't go away in the years to come. I was kindly and helpfully answered by Rachel herself within 10 minutes or so, that gave me big courage and push to dive into Perch. I still like working with Perch today, however, we're very far from this now, as we all see.

  • As a technophobe and low-skilled web designer Perch has always been my go-to solution, I've been a user for many years and Drew and Rachel have done a great job; it's no suprise they quite rightly seek a better remuneration model for themselves as Perch has grown. I agree the lack of comms is frustrating and looking back at Perch over the years I think it all started to suffer after the introduction of the shop add-on - support issues and requests for shop help completely overwhelmed the forum and I guess dev time and energy - IMVHO. I hope they find the will to carry on!

  • As a long-time user of Perch (since v1) and Runway, I have to agree that it's very hard to recommend to my clients right now. Certain things have been promised repeatedly over the years, with no forward movement (I'm looking at you, Events add-on!) In addition, documentation has frequently been poor or infrequently updated.

    I absolutely love Perch and really want it to succeed. Almost any pricing change would be acceptable if it were accompanied by better communication, more frequent updates, and more thorough documentation. I'd be very sad if Perch went away, but right now it sort of feels like it has.

  • looking back at Perch over the years I think it all started to suffer after the introduction of the shop add-on

    Nice observation, charlie.elsey.

    Some suggested that Shop should be a paid add-on. If it is being actively developed, I agree. I think the plan was to introduce the Shop Assistant (paid subscription) to generate recurring revenue from it. There is certainly an opportunity for them to charge for Shop.

  • Out of box thinking - I wonder what would happen if Perch was offered for free, and Runway increased by the price that Perch was? Or have a free edition where everything worked, but put hard limits on collection item/product counts? Marketing and incentives for new users are important, and these things could be improved for Perch.

    I think many still prefer standard Perch over Runway, so assuming standard Perch sells more, it would be difficult to make it free.

    I'm not sure limits on Collection items would work. A developer could build a Perch app that has no limits and use it instead. There is already some sort of limit on multiple-item regions so you'd need to upgrade to Runway Collections.

    However, limits on Perch Shop products could certainly work!

  • I think regular perch should be limited somewhat to make the switch to runway more of a jump in features. For me I prefer runway because of the routing and it not creating physical pages on the server, but this isn’t necessarily understood or seen by lower tech users.

    For 1 shop should not be installable on regular perch in my option. And like others have said you should be paying extra to install shop in the first place.

    Secondly I thing regular perch should be seen as a gateway to runway. You need a small 1 pager or simple multi page site with 1 level of navigation and a contact form, you can use regular perch... anything else you need runway.

    for pricing I really think they should consider a regular subscription model. (A reasonable price per year) The idea of “you only need to pay if you want to update” is odd to me. I don’t see enough new features coming out to warrant it and makes me feel as if I would be paying to fix bugs. Also it’s been seen on the forum countless times how many people just don’t update the software so I seriously question the viability of that model in the first place.

    I’ve found that one of the big advantages with perch is the sites longevity. They just last longer being influenced less by the huge number of required 3rd party themes and plugins required by other CMS’s (I’m looking at you WordPress).

    if this is the case a yearly subscription would clearly bring in more revenue. It would also get clients thinking more about their sites in a regular basis maybe discovering new updates and features as the come out.

  • Personally, I don't care whether it is pay once, use and update for free thereafter, or else have unlimited project changes; otherwise add a paid shop plug-in, indeed pay for a period of updates and/or support.

    What I do care about is when a product cycle ends, that it is feature complete and bug-free.

  • Since the topic of first-party apps has been brought up, here are my thoughts. Any app that provides listing items and not much else can be replaced by Collections.

    The Blog app is popular because it provides a preset way to handle things. It already has the required fields that are important for date-ordered dynamic content and comes with some functions that perform specific things instead of just the flexible perch_blog_custom(). We see it being misused for non-date ordered content possibly because developers with less PHP experience don't see multiple-item regions or collections as easy to use, or possibly because some developers are coming from a CMS where everything is a blog post (WordPress).

    The same applies for the old Events app. The functionality it provides can be replicated by multiple-item Regions (for simpler sites) or Collections.

    With the way Collections seems to be heading, I could see there being preset templates/configurations for Collections that can be distributed instead of an app for everything. Think about how many flexible tools nowadays provide templates: Airtable, Notion, Zenkit, Trello. This way there would potentially be less app development for Drew/Rachel and more time to invest in the core product. All new improvements to Collections would be applied for all presets. And the developer experience for those with less PHP experience would remain positive.

    Though with this approach, Collections and relationships may need to be available in standard Perch too. Possibly with a limit on the number of items like JayW suggested.

    I'm not saying I don't want apps. App development would still have its place. It is just not necessary for the simple list/detail cases.

  • 100% agree hus_hmd. Collections can already replace some existing apps but I like the idea of optional templates for less experienced devs.

    Regarding the subject of monthly/annual subscription – by switching to a standard subscription model, I could see this being the final nail in the coffin for Perch. However, using the approach where you only pay to get updates à la Sketch and Craft, is a much better compromise I think.

    I also think they should consolidate Perch and Runway. Have one price for the Perch product (somewhere in between standard and Runway as it is now) and you can then choose how you wish to build your site. They will lose a bit on runway licences but make it back on standard Perch, which I would hazard a guess is the better selling one anyway. This would also come with less overhead to manage two separate products, and let's face it, £50 for Perch is too cheap.

  • Regarding the subject of monthly/annual subscription – by switching to a standard subscription model, I could see this being the final nail in the coffin for Perch. However, using the approach where you only pay to get updates à la Sketch and Craft, is a much better compromise I think.

    Agreed. hus_hmd had some good ideas about pricing models. Though I forgot though that there already is a subscription offer for multiple licences.

    I also think they should consolidate Perch and Runway.

    Not sure about this though. I still like regular Perch and it is quite powerful despite the 'really little content management system' tagline. There's a lot of information we're not privy too so we don't know how popular regular Perch is compared to runway. But I agree that £50 is too little.

    At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I think stand alone licences should be locked after a year so they can't be reused. I imagine licence reuse is a sizable chunk of lost revenue. But maybe that would work differently for subscriptions?

  • Absolutely, if the ratio of Perch-to-Runway is currently skewed towards Runway then this doesn't make much financial sense.

    You make a good point about the tagline too – I think this probably does more harm than good.

    Locking the licenses after a year is essentially the same as paying for updates after a year though isn't it? Or are you purely referring to how domain assignment should work? I wouldn't mind this, although I can think of some edge cases where a business wants/needs to change their domain; but I guess on those occasions we could reach out to Perch and request a license migration?

    Some good discussion here but it's all irrelevant if the communication, support, and update frequency doesn't improve.

  • I was suggesting that even if you pay for updates after the initial period that a licence is locked, so yes just domain reassignments. Good point though about businesses changing their domains though, I didn't think of that. I agree that reaching out to Perch would probably do the trick.

  • I still like regular Perch and it is quite powerful despite the 'really little content management system' tagline.

    You make a good point about the tagline too – I think this probably does more harm than good.

    Absolutely. There is a blog post on titled What if Died? in which WordPress alternatives are discussed. The author's impression of Perch is that it is more of a content management tool rather than a system. I don't agree with this and I think Perch is a mature system, but I can't blame them for feeling this way.

    More can be done to educate developers on what Perch is capable of. Some in the Perchology slack group pointed out how the impression site gives is a factor too (a little off-topic and ultimately not my place to discuss this).

  • I understand why they've positioned it like they have, and why they chose to use that tagline. The low barrier of entry for less experienced devs is one of the things that sets Perch apart.

    I do believe, however, that by combining the two products, they could easily market it as a CMS and a set of tools that lets you do the simplest of things very easily, as well providing the depth of utilities to build out more complex sites like we know it can do.

  • The low barrier of entry for less experienced devs is one of the things that sets Perch apart.

    I think this message can be clear by focusing on simplicity, ease of use (for developers and editors) and how it does not get in the way (e.g. no themes) without having to label it "little", which can be misinterpreted. Having said that, Drew and Rachel have been successfully running Perch for 10 years, which indicates the marketing suits their (perhaps primary) target audience even though I think they are underselling the product!