Adobe make a pretty darn good Creative Suite for developers but their forays into simplified tools for website content management have consistently failed over the years.
Anyone who has used Adobe Contribute knows what I mean. It uses the desktop-software approach to update a website that a developer has setup for you. The problem of course, is that end users don’t much like it.
Dreamweaver is a nice code editor, but even it’s “WYSIWYG” (what you see is what you get) editor is too high level for average users.
And then of course there’s flash.. slowly dying a horrible death at the feet of HTML5 and world popular iOS devices that don’t support it.
So it’s with this context you have to wonder about Business Catalyst. The in-browser approach to a CMS (Content Management System) where Adobe is trying to sell (at a subscription rate) something that has been pioneered for years by free open-source alternatives like WordPress. What’s more, they charge you per user and per feature so the more you grow – the more you pay. Sounds good for Adobe. Want social features? Another $200 please.
To keep the money flowing, they’ve setup a partner program to encourage developers to use their CMS and basically take all the support so that they don’t have to. Good for the shrewd developer who makes their money from support, not so good for the end user. Ultimately with any subscription based platform you are effectively “locked in” and can’t easily migrate your site to something cheaper (or free). As a hosted service it runs on their servers which (going by their support forums) often go down.
Here are some of the business catalyst complaints and issues you quickly find online from disgruntled users :
“6 months down the track of using Business Catalyst i would not recommend it to anyone… Yes if serious build your own or use something more widely supported.” – via Whirlpool Forums
“I have been a developer for many years now and in my experience every BC website I have worked on is an absolute mess. I’ve found support difficult to obtain and the CMS is annoying.” – via Freelance Switch
“Price is fine. I’d pay twice that if the system did everything it claims to do better than open source solutions. But it doesn’t. It really does suck. “ – Web Developer Blog
“When I read and see the clients’ frustration on their support forum, I know I should stay far away…” – Lynton Web
“It didn’t even occur to us that such a powerful product would fail on such a fundamental level.” – Boag World
It seems like Adobe have missed the mark again with a solution that is overkill for many small businesses and not really good enough for larger businesses with serious needs. It’s a hard sell for some.