by Flo Preynat

I have recently finished a project based on Perch, the clever ‘little’ CMS created by, a web development company located in Bristol run by Rachel Andrew and Drew McLellan.

As the experience was a total pleasure, I thought a blog post was not only on the cards, but also a compulsory duty.

“Everything you need while remaining the closest to a modern web designer’s workflow” is what I tweeted at Perch a couple of months ago. Still valid today, and for a good reason: the amount of markup needed to convert a static site to a CMS-supported format is minimal. Needless to say the time spent on that particular task becomes a breeze, so you can focus on what you’re (supposed to be) best at.

Perch is all custom fields

That’s right folks, Perch is entirely based around structured content and therefore every template is a collection of “custom fields”. To read more on the subject, check this oldish yet still valid blog post from Rachel.

Ramp up

I can only encourage you to take a look at the videos Rachel and Drew put up on their site. You will see by yourselves that adding the Perch layer on top of your newly-created site is THAT easy and simple.

The only advice I would give you is to really take the time to read the documentation. I made a bunch of mistakes in the early days of the project because of too much enthusiasm. I was too eager to get going with it I forgot to carefully plan my regions and ended up taking a good part of what I had done down, and replace it with what I was supposed to do in the first place.

A few things too valuable to miss:

Why not use WordPress

Don’t get me wrong, I love WordPress, it’s a fabulous tool. And getting a WP site up and running can be done quickly. This post is not intended to make you go off the open-source tool.

But let’s admit it. Custom theming a WP site from a static site is time consuming. And making the site perform as good as you’d like to see it is also resource consuming. Therefore having a simpler alternative to WordPress is a pleasure. And a massive option. That’s all.

Apps, plugins and more

Especially since Perch comes up with a ton of features. Apps, plugins, integration tools, the lot. Backup, Blog, Comments, Events, Forms, Gallery, Members, ecommerce (with Paypal or Foxycart), and translation into 9 languages are all being handled with/via Perch.

perch cms review

Think about it, how many of your latest projects would be needing more than that? Probably only a few would be necessitating the compulsory use of WordPress. More than likely for very specific reasons.

But it ain’t free, is it?

Perch isn’t free alright. The single license for one website (one license with staging and development instances) comes at the reasonable price of 50 quid (or €59). For your info, you’ll get 5 and 10-pack discounts. All pricing details here.

I can assure you: it is definitely worth the price. Include it in your quote, and give yourself (and your clients a favour). “Is that it?” is probably what your clients will tell you after having been shown around the perch admin interface.


Inexpensive, flexible and wickedly Simple.
A small CMS bound to get bigger, especially since announcing the future release of Perch Runway, the new edition of Perch allegedly designed for those bigger and more complex sites. Watch out for this.

So long folks.

My name is Flo Preynat and I am the freelance webdesigner and developer behind shoogle designs. I live in France and specialize in responsive web design. Give me a shoogle or get in touch with me on twitter.

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  1. Jeff says:

    Hi Flo. I’m reading your Perch post from last summer. I’m wondering if you are still using it and can still recommend it?

    • Hi Jeff,

      I had two projects back to back around that time, and working with perch was indeed a joy.
      I have not been working on small projects since, i’ve been on a huge salesforce-based project for more than a year, so i’m not the best person to answer this.
      However, from what I’ve been reading, perch has added even more strings to its bow with new features and a new package (runway).
      Gut feeling, have a go at it.

      Obviously, it all depends on the project you’re working on. Any specific project in mind or you’re just fishing for a general answer?

      thanks mate,

  2. Gabi says:

    Hi There Jeff,

    Been a while since the last comment on here. Wondering if you had since been using perch on anything new?

    Considering using it instead of WP for a few things coming up.



  3. Hilary Dunk says:

    Hello Flo,
    Please see (below), my recent post on the Survive France Network……

    “Have to update and review my website myself….need to be independent, but can’t set myself the task of learning HTML etc. ontop of trying to establish more of a regular painting schedule, maintaining (and slowly renovating) the house, cooking , cleaning, exercising, catching up with all the good books etc. that I want to read before I ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’……

    I have to be realistic ( I have health problems) – and my concentration span (for ‘anything technical & fiddly’ and energy levels, are not what they were, so I need an expert where this is concerned. I have looked at one or two option in the UK, but for obvious reasons (French system re eventual tax etc), I was/am hoping that someone on this site has come across someone using or singing the praises of CMS Perch, who might be able to show me how to use this…? So any likely contacts please ?”

    Many thanks for your time…

    • ian hobbs says:

      Hi Hilary,

      I can highly recommend perch we use it extensively in our practice. We do a lot of artist portfolios and the “collections” logic of Perch’s Runway makes sorting and organising works a breeze. I think this complements the already mentioned strengths.

      Cheers Ian

  4. Allan says:

    Perch did look promising for its time but we’ve been lucky to have new players come to the field. Performance is really important so it’s no wonder that new CMS platforms are hitting the market, such as Grav. I think there’s still some time needed before we see wider adoption of flat-file CMS platforms but it’s great to see these sort of ideas gaining traction.
    Al – Durban Web Design Company