The company’s ethos is to create “powerfully simple products for real people” and Barley appears to match this goal. The product has no admins, no forms and no plug-ins, instead concentrating on “simple web content editing”. Although primarily aimed at non-web professionals who’ll most benefit from its ease of use, Barley has already elicited positive reactions from a number of industry figures.
.net spoke to Barley co-founder Colin Devroe about how Plain sowed the seeds for Barley, and its potential for growth within the web industry.
.net: In a nutshell, what does Barley do, and why would someone want to use it?
CD: Barley makes it simple to edit a website's content using any device you have with you. Although publishing on the web has gotten progressively easier, the most popular content management systems have become bloated. Small business owners, bloggers, photographers and others rarely need thousands of plug-ins, hundreds of settings and a complex administrative area. They just want to change their store hours, write a new blog post, or put up a new photo album. Barley has no admin, almost no forms to fill in and nearly no settings. You just edit content.
.net: What aspects of Barley are you particularly proud of?
CD: There’s no learning curve. You tap on anything you'd like to edit on your site, and simply edit it, tap away to save. If you'd like to add a new blog post, you just start writing. You don't have to worry about what your content will look like when you hit publish because you already know. You're seeing it as you type or add photos.
.net: So is Barley best suited for non-professionals, or does it have scope to be the basis for a professionally designed site a client could update?
CD: We’ve so far had an overwhelming response to Barley, with thousands of people signing up to be notified of its public release. This included interest from internet professionals and full-service digital agencies. So although we think Barley is for the non-web professional, this initial response taught us that the web at large is desperate for an easier way to produce websites that don't require a lot of customer training and support.
Web designers wrote to us, pleading for Barley to be released so they could begin to spend nights and weekends with their families rather than on the phone with clients! They’re sick of dealing with headaches that come from using today's most popular platforms. This prompted us to adjust our marketing strategy, and so Barley will, from day one, enable web designers to publish web templates and sell them to their own customers. They'll no longer need to train their customers in complex content management systems or paste in Word or Google Drive documents that get emailed at three in the morning. They'll be empowering customers to edit their own websites like never before — and hopefully increasing their margins, too!
.net: From a code output standpoint, how does Barley fare? Also, how flexible is it from a layout standpoint?
CD: Barley's value is in its limitations, which are decided by the template author. For example, some online web design editors allow someone to make an ugly website that doesn't work on mobile devices. Barley will not allow this — its templates will all be responsive, work on every single device, and be built with the highest quality and the latest standards. Barley doesn't allow someone to choose if they want a two, three, or four-column layout. The template author has made that choice for them. Barley doesn't allow someone to put an image inside of a heading tag or a million spans inside of a blog post. Barley's code output is clean and standardised. We feel this is the best approach for end users because they'll want their websites to work everywhere.
Barley should start rolling out before the summer to those who’ve signed up for notification about its public release.