11 Reasons Why Business Catalyst Sucks

January 19, 2011 in Web Development

Ok, I know this title sounds like total link bait, but bare with me. I don’t believe there’s any better way to present my feelings and experiences with this system. Of course you should know, like Stjáni Gunnars pointed out to me, that this is written from a developer’s perspective. When you’re a business, this might be a different story.

I’ve recently been working for a colleague and a client on implementing a website and ecommerce site in Business Catalyst.

Business Catalyst is a web publishing platform originally developed by a couple of Australians in 2004, but was acquired by Adobe Systems in 2009. It promises to be an all-in-one solutions for business websites (there’s your red flag right there) with tight integration with it’s online store, tracking and analytics.

But there’s just one problem with it.

It sucks.

Why Business Catalyst sucks

  1. Modern design meets software from the ’90s – It actually looks pretty nice, but the interface is pretty horrible and it reminds you of what using web software felt like in the early ’00s and the structure of the software feels like it’s from the ’90s
  2. It uses tables extensively for the front end content and you can’t customize them away. Eg. the product list and product view get wrapped in tables and there’s no way to customize them away. Also, you will not have any way of referencing one table and not the other with CSS since the same table classes wrap a product lits and a single product.
  3. The admin UI sucks. It looks nice on the surface and at first glance you get a positive vibe, but as soon as you try to do anything, you need to click at least 4 times to access everything and there are inconsistencies and confusion everywhere.
  4. The admin interface uses frames. Need I say more?
  5. The templating language isn’t a language. It only uses tags, so you are unable to create any conditional statements. All the logic you’ll ever want to do in templates will have to be done using Javascript, which is the primary reason you’ll find many examples of JS/CSS hacks when you google around for problems.
  6. Pricing. We’re already in number six and I haven’t mentioned the price. Well, all I can say is that it’s not cheap.
  7. Rudimentary API. Their ecommerce API has 6 function calls and they’re all related to product/catalog information.
  8. Lack of flexibility. The built in Contact form application forces you to require a title, name & last name. On the positive side you can create many kinds of forms, however they all have this limitation.
  9. Only a basic WYSIWYG editor. BC obviously doesn’t have a lot of SEO or semantic web oriented userbase since the WYSIWYG editor isn’t very paragraph-oriented – you’ll need to add them manually.
  10. Closed platform. Since it’s a closed platform you won’t have any developers working on cool plugins or anything value adding beyond what Adobe can deliver. Compared to open source solutions like wordpress, drupal, plone, etc it looks pretty late to the game. This also means that there isn’t a plethora of blogs out there covering “how to do X in BC”, so you’ll have to make do with their online forum or the support channels.
  11. Template editing is achieved through the WYSIWYG editor.
  12. Bonus point: Lack of ready-made custom themes out there. This is mostly attributed to the small user base and I’d say it’s a typical problem compared to the small number of users.

Localized issues

And then there’s the Icelandic localization issues:

  1. Fixed pricing format. The price format is a fixed format like this: Kr15.388,00 – the decimals are correctly formatted (ie. they have the right symbols) but it doesn’t have a space between the currency and the price. Also, Icelandic prices never have the decimal points and some people like to disambiguate the price from other types of Kroner and use “ISK” instead of Kr or even skip the currency symbol all together. Not possible.
  2. The WYSIWYG editor changes Icelandic characters to their HTML entities, so it might affect some search engines and other website parsers/crawlers.

If those issues are not of concern to you, you shouldn’t worry about it and you can go ahead and have fun.

But if you care about your website and your business, I don’t believe you should be using Business Catalyst.

What do other people think?

Other people have covered and reviewed BC to some extent, so if you’d like more diverse opinions you can read Linton Web Blog’s Review of Business Catalyst here.

What do you think?

If you have any experience using and implementing Business Catalyst I would love to hear from you in the comments. Please chime in.

  • http://www.simpleflame.com Jason Tinnin – SimpleFlame.com

    With all due respect, how can you have such a strong opinion about BC when you have barely been using it (as you allude to in your opening)? We’ve put more than 300+ websites into BC. It’s all we offer. I’d like to challenge most of your points and simply correct some of them.

    Your points in order:

    1.) Are you alluding to the default templates that BC provides? Is this what you have used as a starting point for this project? The default templates BC provides are full of tables and are very old. However, you can start with a blank website and not deal with modifying or ripping out the default template code you appear to referring to. That’s how we start every project. This is a non issue. If you want some examples, let me know.

    2.) BC does not force you into tables. Simply not true. By default, BC does insert a table structure when you setup ecommerce, however you can use a ul -> li structure to change this by making a simple attribute change to the BC tag tag_productlist

    3.) Subjective point. I have some people who love it and some who hate it. The same holds true for any other piece of software that business owners use (who by the way is the core audience we are trying to please here). Their going to use it going forward. However, BC is in the middle of completely redesigning the Admin right now. Check out this blog post for a small screener of the new interface. Business Catalyst bog: What’s_Up_at_Business_Catalyst_in_November/

    4.) Who cares? What’s your point? How does this make BC suck? Yeah, ok so I’m a bit more on the purest side on this point, however the last time I checked BC wasn’t interested in having the admin indexed by Google.

    5.) So, since you can’t do conditional statements, this makes BC suck. Do other systems provide conditional statements, sure. However, they don’t provide a fully integrated set of tools that business owners can legitimately use. Let’s ask 10 business owners or for that matter 10 different agencies focused on providing real solutions to their clients to make them money and let’s see which they choose. I know where I’ll place my bet. This doesn’t make BC suck. Maybe toss an example or two out that you’ll want to accomplish that BC won’t due to this “limitation” that makes BC suck.

    6.) In 3 years, I have yet to have 1 person, who understands what they are getting, care about BC’s pricing. Frankly, we almost double the base fee that BC charges to our clients, but provide support to them, and NOBODY complains about it. However, if you are attracting clients who are used to $3 per month hosting, it is a bit of a stretch to get them to look at BC. There’s a fundamental gap in their understanding. With BC, you’re not buying hosting space on a server, you’re buying a set of tools that would cost you an arm and a leg to replicate. OK, toss in your Drupal, DotNetNuke, Joomla argument. Tell that to the daily list of people calling our office cursing all 3 systems.

    7.) Rudimentary API. Sure, it’s not the most robust API at the moment. However, BC is currently producing a JSON and XML set of APIs for every module in the platform. It’s coming. However, I use the API extensively in it’s current state. It has it’s quirks, but I am able to pull off some pretty nice functionality for my clients. Care to share your example of how you planned to use it?

    8.) This is a clear indication that you haven’t really worked with the system at all. The title can be removed completely. We do it on all of our forms. However, please share with me one form that you’ll create for your client that won’t require first/last name, if this is your core argument? If you argue email list submission, there’s a form for that under Marketing -> Lists -> Choose a list -> Get the HTML from the Action box on the right.

    9.) BC provides a setting, as a BC partner, to change the WYSIWYG editor to support semantic tagging versus break tags, etc. They need to swap that out and allow the semantic option by default, but stating that they don’t allow it is not true. Also, if you want to allow your client to edit the site, make sure they use InContext Editing. Likewise, there is a straight up Dreamweaver plugin that allows you to manage most any aspect of your site and edit it fully in Dreamweaver.

    10.) Although the developer community (for plugins and such) is fairly small at the moment, I’ll guarantee you it will grow handsomely in the next year or so, once the API and new UI updates are in production. You’ll see some devs opening up to it. However, I have to push back that it sucks because it is closed (hence your bolded point). It’s, again, a subjective opinion depending on which purest camp you are in.

    11.) See point #9

    12.) This will grow as well. It’s already happening. We have some that we offer and are launching an entire business around BC templates. I’d put a link to them, however I don’t want my rebuttal to your points to be construed as an opportunity plug my products.

    Localized issues: You might have found a bug there. Report it.

    The biggest beef I have with your post is this sentence “But if you care about your website and your business, I don’t believe you should be using Business Catalyst.” What authority do you have to make that statement? I completely disagree with this statement….and so do thousands of other people who are operating with success on BC.

    *edit:* I fixed your link to the blog post

    • http://arnorhs.com/ arnorhs

      I would never have guessed that I’d get so much response from this blog post. There really aren’t that many readers and commentators, so thank you for your responses guys!

      Jason. I’m very sorry if I hurt your feelings or if I’m making Business Catalyst seem worse that it might be. You are right that I’m new to the BC platform, but my experience is probably a pretty common experience among newcomers and especially those that are used to other, more open systems – including those with open licenses.

      In fact, your response has inspired me to write a new blog post about how the good aspects of Business Catalyst. That post is coming.

      I admit that saying “Business Catalyst sucks” may be an overstatement, but I have strong feelings about the topic. I still stand by most of my points and I’d like to address some of your arguments (sorry about cutting some of your answers in half to reduce space):

      “1.) Are you alluding to the default templates that BC provides?”

      No I am not. I’m referring to the table that wraps the product catalogs and product view. I based the template I’m working on nothing but my own “skills”. I consider myself to be a competent developer, I know my HTML/CSS pretty well and I wouldn’t really start a project based on another template.

      “2.) BC does not force you into tables. Simply not true. By default, BC does insert a table structure when you setup ecommerce, however you can use a ul -> li structure to change this by making a simple attribute change to the BC tag tag_productlist”

      Well, I wish that was true. In fact, I asked specifically about this a “partner portal” support request (after a lengthy discussion):

      || So the answer is: “No, you can’t remove the tables from the product layout” ?
      | Thanks for contacting us!
      | At this stage not at the moment.
      | Kind regards,

      What you can do (which is probably what you were talking about) is use the {tag_productlist} tag in the template itself or on a static web page with ul/li structure. That’s what I could do in some places, but that doesn’t help me in the main catalog layout.

      “3.) Subjective point. I have some people who love it and some who hate it.”

      That’s the same with every piece of software, so that’s a totally rhetoric argument. You could just as well say some people like hot dogs and some people don’t.

      Anybody can learn how to use any software. The question is never whether somebody who uses a particular piece of software every day finds it usable, but how easy it is for new users to understand and learn a piece of software.

      “However, BC is in the middle of completely redesigning the Admin right now.”

      That may well be. All software is in constant redesign and redevelopment, but you can’t judge software based on what it will be in the future.

      “4.) Who cares? What’s your point?”

      Well, obviously I care. Also, I can mention at least 3 reasons why more people probably care:

      a) Sending links. When you want to send your partners or somebody who’s working with you on a site a link to a particular page within the admin area, you can’t get to the URL very easily. If you *do* get to the URL, some of the features of the site will be broken.
      b) Bookmarking. Let’s also say that I’m constantly modifying a particular category, I’d like to bookmark the modify-category-X into chrome’s bookmarks bar – with frames, that won’t work.
      c) tabs. Let’s say I’m editing a few products and instead of opening each product and then going back, I ctrl+click each of them to open them in their separate tabs. That way I can keep scrolling or finding more of the products I want to edit and then I just go to each tab to edit the product. This is a very common use-case amongs tech-savy/geeky browser users.

      “5.) So, since you can’t do conditional statements, this makes BC suck. Do other systems provide conditional statements, sure. However, they don’t provide a fully integrated …”

      Since you’re agreeing with me, I can’t but agree with you back.

      The usefulness of simple conditionals is tremendous. Just doing a check to render a separate layout for an empty list of anything vs a populated list of anything, is very important in my opinion.

      “6.) In 3 years, I have yet to have 1 person, who understands what they are getting, care about BC’s pricing.”

      Since I have been in the website consulting business in the past, I know how things work. So I know you’re completely right about that. If you’re providing good service, 99% of your clients will always be happy. Clients only care about the value they are getting, so as long as their service partner keeps them happy, delivers on time and is fair, the client will be happy.

      In fact, I can imagine that you’re a damn good consultant and I’ll bet anybody that your clients are extremely happy. The mere fact that you’re watching every google alert for Business Catalyst (or however you found this post a few hours after it was published), shows that you care deeply about what you’re doing for your clients. Good job.

      But it’s still expensive.

      “7.) … BC is currently producing a JSON and XML set of APIs for every module in the platform. It’s coming.”

      See my answer to the second part of no. 3)

      “8.) This is a clear indication that you haven’t really worked with the system at all.”

      Yes, I thought I made it pretty clear that I’m new to the BC world.

      “The title can be removed completely. We do it on all of our forms.”

      Can you tell me how? I’d really like to learn. We are talking about the title as in mr/ms/mrs/etc.. aren’t we?

      “However, please share with me one form that you’ll create for your client that won’t require first/last name”

      Ok. Here’s one: Every single web form ever created for the Icelandic market, since we do not use first/last names. Icelanders are referred to by their first name 99% of the time and our form fields usually only have a single name-field. People get a feeling of the forms being a bit “alien” to them when they have a first/last name format – especially if you also have the title in it. This also holds true for a few other countries.

      And before you tell me that you think most other systems do not take this into account and it’s a feature “hardly anybody uses”, you’re wrong. This has been implemented almost everywhere else.

      “9.) BC provides a setting, as a BC partner, to change the WYSIWYG editor to support semantic tagging versus break tags, etc. …”

      Hmm that’s interesting. Thanks for the tip! You sure know your stuff. I’ll see if I can get that working.

      “10.) Although the developer community is fairly small….”

      It will be interesting to see the dev community grow. I’m guessing the partners will probably be pretty eager to develop stuff, but not your average joe. (sorry about the shortened answer)

      11.) See point #9

      Well, what I would’ve liked to do is edit the template file directly via FTP. I can do that for all my stylesheets etc, but I can’t seem to for the template files themselves. Something about publishing them etc. Maybe you can tell me how to do that?

      “12.) I’d put a link to them, however I don’t want my rebuttal to your points to be construed as an opportunity plug my products.”

      Please do. In fact, I’ll link to it in the post I want to do about the positive things Business Catalyst has to offer.

      On the price-format issue, I had also asked about that. The only answer I got was basically “sorry, you can’t customize the price format”.

      Thanks a lot again for the comments and your arguments. I think they’ll probably be very helpful to other people.

    • Nick

      You defiantly can make your products render in a list rather than tables and that functionality has been in business catalyst for many years…. but that is the least of your worries when trying to set up eCommerce in BC

  • http://ivanbernat.com/ Ivan

    Build your own > make tons of money.

  • http://www.logopogo.biz Adam Wilson

    I’d have to agree with Jason here.
    While BC does have it’s problems (like every other system does), it’s also the best all-round system I’ve come across… and it’s only going to get better with future upgrades.
    When you really get into BC you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.

  • http://www.urbanelement.com Malcolm Maclean

    I have to add the opinion of Urban Element here. We deal primarily with SME’s and I have to say Business Catalyst is a fantastic system for our clients. We have been using the system for over 12 months now and we have around 50 clients using the system, all of them very very satisfied customers.

    If you are a developer used to doing custom software and writing custom code it may be a little restrictive but for 99% of client needs and from a business perspective Business Catalyst just cannot be beaten.

    Imagine the alternative for an agency having 50 or 60 individual installations of Joomla or Drupal and having to support all those different configurations, what a nightmare!

    BC has also cut our development time by at least half, you cant argue with that. It does have some downsides but they are minimal and dwarfed by the huge advantages the system gives us as an agency.

    I think this is a slightly under informed viewpoint.


  • http://SmarterXDesign.com Art Stiefel

    Funny… I wanted to read this post and see if you had found holes that I have not. But, that’s just not the case. Your ranting, while well written, is unfounded and without experience or merit.

    I have been designing and developing website since the 1980′s (yes that is possible) the integration of all the tools that Adobe Business Catalyst provides are unequaled. The time and money that the system saves are very important to small businesses like mine. The network of intelligent and talented designers, developers and programmers is phenomenal, supportive and growing. The flexibility of page structure is pretty limitless and not only bound to tables as you state. Some of the best companies around the world are using this platform as their “go to” solution for bringing intelligent branding, marketing and integrated online business solutions to their customers.

    I think Jason’s post above is spot on, so I won’t repeat it. I will only add that next time you feel like ranting don’t go all-out “Tea-Party” on the subject and instead do more homework about the subject of your rant. In this case, you missed the mark.

  • http://www.adobe.com disgruntled partner

    Interesting debate, but can’t help repeating the admissions from the comments by a BC ‘evangelist’ that prove BC does suck somewhat in it’s current form – albeit Adobe may be addressing some/all of these, it is what it is right now and it’s current state is all anyone can review for sure.

    1. The default templates BC provides are full of tables and are very old.

    2. By default, BC does insert a table structure when you setup ecommerce.

    7.) Rudimentary API. Sure, it’s not the most robust API at the moment.

    9. Why don’t BC enable semantic option by default

    Many similar platforms say they have greater features and improvements on the way, but how long it takes to deliver on those promises in the ever-changing webspace is what matters to most web developers and clients (especially business clients for which BC is targeting).

  • http://www.lucidsynergy.com Chris Witham

    Hi Arnor,

    I know you mention that your post is written from a developers perspective but I can’t help thinking that perhaps you should spend a little more time getting to know and understand BC before making such sweeping statements.

    As a partner myself, so possibly a little biased, to me BC is all about offering a solution for my clients online businesses and most business owners I talk to don’t really care or want to know about CSS, tables and API’s!

    As long as their BC site is doing what they wanted it to in the first place, be it lead generation, e-commerce or a simple brochure site then they’re going to remain happy which makes me happy!

    In my experience most clients buy on the overall feature set that BC gives them in one solution and to my knowledge I’ve not seen anything else that does this, there are some that come close but not quite.

    BC does have some issues and there is a bit of a learning curve, but I think that will be the case no matter what solution you go for, at least BC has the mighty Adobe behind it which in the long run can only be a good thing.

    Ask any business owner not involved in the web space if they’ve heard of Drupal, Joomla or Magento for example, and they’ll most likely think your talking another language, mention Adobe and most will have heard of them! This has put my clients minds at rest on several occasions.

    As you’re now starting to see, BC has a strong community around it and there are many very knowledgable partners that are willing to help out should you need it. Perhaps you should have done a bit more research before posting or made your headline something like “11 reasons why Business Catalyst is not for every developer but some will love it and so will their clients” bit wordy I know but you get my drift!

    • http://arnorhs.com/ arnorhs

      Thanks Chris, I agree with you. As long as you are meeting the needs of your clients and everybody’s happy, there’s no problem at all.

      I was simply explaining my first-hand experience with setting up a site and implementing a design from a developer’s standpoint.

      To a developer like myself, with no stake in the system, it has a lot of downsides. A developer doesn’t judge a system based on it’s business merits, but simply on the level of technology as it appears to him.

      Poor, outdated technology is very often a sign of a team or a company that’s either unable to keep up with modern technology and methodology or a business that’s failing.

      At least from a developer’s standpoint.

      So even though the system is working out great right now, I wouldn’t put my money on Business Catalyst still being here in five years or so.

      But I’m not a business person, so I could be wrong. Only time can tell.

      Thanks for your feedback.

  • http://www.simpleflame.com Jason Tinnin – SimpleFlame.com

    Hello Arnor, thanks for your detailed response to my comment and for the thought and care you put into each of my rebuttal points. I am very impressed with your attitude (certainly wasn’t expecting that with the forthright title) and desire to learn more about Business Catalyst. I’m not going to go back through every point, as we agree on some and will have agree to disagree on others, but I do want to provide some additional feedback on some of them.

    “1.) Are you alluding to the default templates that BC provides?” AND
    “2.) BC does not force you into tables. Simply not true. By default, BC does insert a table structure when you setup ecommerce, however you can use a ul -> li structure to change this by making a simple attribute change to the BC tag tag_productlist”

    The snippet that you provided which, as you say, came from BC support is just flat out wrong. If that is true, then they gave you bad information. The fact is that you can completely eliminate the table structure all together within the eCommerce catalog/product list/product detail views. Here, I’ll show you.

    I pulled this from a site we created on BC, so all of the properties set on the two tags may not be identical to your site, but the most important piece is the last “true” parameter. That converts the table output for both product and catalog to a ul -> li structure and completely eliminates tables. Take these two tags that I provided and post them in your Admin -> More Customization Options -> Online Shop Layouts -> Overall Layout


    Here is a screener from one of our template sites where we produce it in that way. http://screencast.com/t/dd4Cx12yU9G Notice the new class names, productList and catalogList as compared to productTable and catlogTable if I were outputting a table. Hopefully this gives you the additional clarity you need to begin building out ecommerce sites and not feel like you are bound to a table layout. Here is some additional information from BC’s knowledgebase that will explain a bit more. http://kb.worldsecuresystems.com/134/bc_1342.html#main_eCommerce

    “4.) Who cares? What’s your point?”

    You have provided some excellent insight into how you would like to use the system. I’ll send some of the Adobe team over here to take a look at this as they may be able to consider these requests in the new admin build.

    “6.) In 3 years, I have yet to have 1 person, who understands what they are getting, care about BC’s pricing.”

    I found it on twitter…but it will make it to Google Alerts in short order. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the pricing piece though.

    “8.) This is a clear indication that you haven’t really worked with the system at all.”

    You’re obviously open to learning more about BC. That’s great! The community at large welcomes anyone who has an open mind and cares about the client.

    The title can be removed completely by doing the following:

    - Once you have inserted the form into your page, merely go to the title form element in HTML and remove it. Just delete it.
    - Also, go to the javascript validation that BC puts in for you and remove the validation for title.

    That’s it. I know BC says that it is required when in the Admin, but it’s not. We never include it in any form that we create.

    One way to handle the Icelandic name issues, is to convert the FirstName LastName fields to one single FullName field. Here is how you do it.

    - Once you insert your form onto a web page, merely go into the form HTML and delete the LastName field. Yep, just delete it.
    - Change the first name field to FullName (both ID and Name attributes) and make the label be whatever you want.
    - Go to the JS validation at the bottom of the form and remove the LastName validation and change FirstName to FullName.

    What happens now is that when FullName is posted BC parses the field looking for spaces in the name and separates it into proper BC fields in the CRM. For example, in the US, if someone put in “Bill Smith” it would split it on space and put Bill in the first name field and Smith in the last name field. In your case, if there was only one word for the name, it would only populate the first name field in the CRM. Not sure if that fully solves your problem, but it’s at least a start.

    “9.) BC provides a setting, as a BC partner, to change the WYSIWYG editor to support semantic tagging versus break tags, etc. …”

    I agree that it should be set this way by default. However, here is how you set it.

    - Login to your partner portal
    - Click on Tools
    - Click on Online Editor Settings
    - Select the client in question (yes, it is a per client setting which for some settings is nice, but for this it is not)
    - Select the Other Settings tab
    - Uncheck the box that says “When customers hit Enter…..”
    - Save

    “10.) Although the developer community is fairly small….”

    Definitely not the average Joe. However, it will be interesting for sure. You can be certain we will be in that game. :)

    “11.) See point #9″

    If you FTP into your BC site, there are 2 system folders. Layouts and Templates. When you create a template in BC, it will be present in the Templates directory for you to download, make edits and FTP back up. Alternatively, I would encourage you to checkout the BC extension for Dreamweaver as can be found here: http://kb.worldsecuresystems.com/830/cpsid_83062.html

    “12.) I’d put a link to them, however I don’t want my rebuttal to your points to be construed as an opportunity plug my products.”

    http://kiyuco.com – Video based tutorials really cool tools that empower the BC community to learn and do more. It’s a representation of tips, tricks, integrations, how-tos, etc that we have learned over the years. We have a tutorial series coming out early this year that will show you how to integrate a cut website from A-Z. Too bad we don’t have it up and running now because it might help you out as you continue to discover BC.

    http://tribevita.com – Business Catalyst templates, ready to go, pre-wired and easily reskin-able. They are becoming quite popular. There are 2 components to it: BC Templates you can merely purchase and start using and a “Tribe” membership that will give you a TON of tools to show you how to make money with them, how to sell them, how to demo BC and win your prospects over, etc etc. We are building the rest of this site out right now and it should be up and running fully in February, however to get a sampling of the templates that will be in there, just go to http://www.simpleflame.com/business-catalyst-templates. There are demos so you can check them all out.

    I’d also like to promote a few other really awesome tools / outlets provided by other BC partners and Adobe.

    LinkedIn Business Catalyst Cafe group – has around 400-500 members in it. This is the longest standing, non-BC created community out there. It was started by PunkLogic, yet another successful BC Partner creating some really cool stuff. It recently became an open forum (so don’t mind the lack of public posts there…linkedin locks old posts down privately). It is a thriving community. We help each other, rant occasionally, etc but the good news is that Adobe is all over it and monitors about everything that is said. So if you have a real suggestion and want to garner some community backing, that’s a really good place to make it happen.

    Adobe TV – There is a Business Catalyst channel that provides all sorts of BC related videos and presentations http://tv.adobe.com/product/business-catalyst/ as well as the Adobe MAX presentation that my business partner and I presented http://tv.adobe.com/watch/max-2010-envision/adobes-new-cms-for-business-realworld-case-studies-in-business-catalyst

    http://simplacrm.com – A really cool tool that does a whole lot more than what it’s name represents. This was developed by MRK Development.

    BC’s only iPhone App. Go to iTunes and search for SimplaLite or Business Catalyst and you’ll find it. We use it to keep up to date with the most recent activity happening on Kiyuco. This too was developed by MRK Development.

    http://bcgurus.com – This is ran by HotPressWeb and is just getting started. However, you’ll find, over time, more and more helpful information primarily around making money with BC and getting most out of your partnership. Brent and his team are pretty passionate about helping out the community in this way.

    “Price Formatting Issue”

    I’m not really sure about that one (yep, you got me). It might be something that will have to be re-formatted by jQuery. That might require a little more investigation. I’d post this out to the LinkedIn forum and see if someone has addressed this before.

    Hopefully this gives you some additional information, confidence, perspective, etc about BC. I hope you continue to keep an open mind and keep discovering more about BC.

    • http://arnorhs.com/ arnorhs

      Wow, Jason. That’s a lot of helpful, interesting information.

      Thanks a lot for your comments. I’ll be referencing you a lot in the next Business Catalyst post, if that’s ok with you.

      Thanks for taking the time and explaining everything in such detail. This comment thread has become very informative (and probably valuable)

      Good job and take care.

    • Dave23222


      I appreciate your view etc but any chance you can change the title of this to say BC My Review as a Developer or something.

      We develop custom solutions and BC based solution. For many clients BC is a good fit and it saves us time period.

      Problem I have is that we just lost a second deal because of the title of your post. Prospect copied the link and he never read it just took the title as bible.

    • https://www.facebook.com/gianfaye Gian Faye

      That sucks. :(

  • http://www.simpleflame.com Jason Tinnin – SimpleFlame.com

    Thanks Arnor, please feel free to reference me in the next post. My hope is that we see you around some of the community outlets and that you continue discovering BC.

    Have a good one.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention 11 Reasons Why Business Catalyst Sucks – arnorhs - Web Development Blog -- Topsy.com

  • Andy Maynard

    Thanks for the good debate guys (and the links Jason).

    Being a graphic designer who can reasonably competently build a site in HTML/CSS, I find BC to be a great tool for implementing the more difficult developer required aspects that all client seem to want now.

    Yes I agree there are some issues and the admin and KB articles do not always give you a satisfactory answer. But I find that generally a support request is pretty quickly dealt with and answered pretty well (go Mario!). But please don’t delete this post Arnorhs, I need those answers and links Jason has posted!

    On a couple of your points Arnorhs:

    1. Price. Spreading the cost of things like a CMS, blog, ecommerce etc over the life of the site is far more palatable to most of my clients than paying many thousands of dollars up front for a developer to build them and then having to pay to keep them maintained and working. Plus I make a more reasonable amount for my time than the tiny commission I can charge them on any developer fees (I realise I need some bigger clients, but until I get them BC works for me).

    2. Your comment “I wouldn’t put my money on Business Catalyst still being here in five years or so.” Come on! It’s now owned by the largest creative applications software company in the world. I hardly think they are going to let it wither and die. I doubt (and sincerely hope) that it’s not the same in five years. I would think that it’s going to morph into something far more powerful.

    Thanks again guys. Nice one.

  • Joshua Hunt

    I have to agree that BC sucks ass.
    I have used many platforms over the years and while BC’s pluses would be its very basic functionality for someone who has never managed a site before, any advanced functionality either isn’t there or doesn’t work like it should. One quick example of this would be the attribute functionality and the inability to easily have different price points on those products.

    • http://arnorhs.com/ arnorhs

      I didn’t even know about that one.

      I’ve set up, managed and even developed ecommerce solutions for clothing stores, which usually have attributes/features such as colors, sizes, stock for each one, etc. So I have experience with the complexity of that.

      Strange that BC makes no attempt at solving that. Too bad.

    • Anonymous

      This is possible.

  • http://www.simpleflame.com Jason Tinnin – SimpleFlame.com

    Josh….Josh….Josh….you’re making this easy. Funny thing is that Arnorhs has apparently believed you without doing any homework, of his own, at all…and is precisely why I have spent so much time here defending BC.

    Here is a screenshot of one of our tribevita.com templates where we have attributes already pre-configured on a BC site. Some affect price and some are merely informational selections. http://screencast.com/t/ipC5fVvfz

    So, Arnorhs, where is that “11 great things about BC” post you promised?

  • http://rabbitmountain.net Paula

    I too am a BC partner, have been since 2008. I’ve been watching this thread pretty closely but haven’t had much to say that Jason hasn’t already addressed.

    But I thought I would share my subjective experience. When I first sat down with BC I too thought it sucked. I came from an open-source background, mostly WordPress and Textpattern, and I found it frustrating that I couldn’t get to the code in the same way. The big hurdle for me to overcome, as a builder, was to trust that BC really did have the code under control. And it does. When I develop a site with BC all I have to worry about is the HTML/CSS, and some js/jquery here and there. For the most part, it really does do what it says it will.

    Also wanted to mention that since Adobe acquired BC, the pace of improvement roll-out has picked up noticeably. From what I have seen, both in the BC back-end and from chatter at the groups, Adobe is fully behind BC and is working hard to make is as excellent as all their products. I have every confidence that Adobe will fix those things that annoy the partners. I mean, Adobe fixed PageMaker! How can they go wrong with BC?

    As for pricing, it does seem expensive when you’re used to $5/mo hosting & free software. But business owners have never really experienced free software. For them, it’s a big up-front web design investment followed by surprise cash outlays every 8-13 months to keep their sites updated, lest they fall into security or usage violations at their host and get shut down.

    For them it is MUCH easier to budget monthly for all the same stuff, plus the convenience of having one login and one invoice vs a plethora of logins, a constant stream of little charges for various web services, and big unexpected website repair bills.

    So that’s my 2¢. I think BC is great. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best small business solution I’ve seen yet.

  • Brando Bandido

    Amen to you man! What a brave man! Yeah all in all Business catalyst really sucks! I just hate it! But I’m just wondering why it still exist. This is really one of the worsts. Sorry BC but I’m just telling the truth – from a developer’s perspective of course.

  • http://www.simpleflame.com Jason Tinnin – SimpleFlame.com

    Does any anti-BC person have something legitimate to say on this thread? Let’s debate, but bring something to the table. This “jab” and “run” approach is annoying. Arnorhs, so far, is the only Anti-BC person who has had anything legitimate to debate. The irony is that during the debate at least he has learned more about BC than he did before writing this post. He might not become a BC advocate, but at least he has engaged. Any takers?

  • http://ebwaydev.com Jonathan Hinshaw

    No offense to any “BC Haters” – I understand your frustrations, I do. However, I have to say… We have been working with Business Catalyst for about 2 years now and although there’s been some ups and downs, it generally been a really pleasant experience. Have we forgotten the Joomla 1.0 and WordPress 2 days? Ahg!

    Don’t forget Business Catalyst is still in it’s beginnings (BC Version 3 Coming) and for a brand new all-in-one solution, it’s pretty incredible!

    “Why is BC Still Around”?

    Simple Answer. There is no solution that will do what BC can do (under professional guidance!) for anywhere close to the price. At the end of the day, Business Catalyst is closer to an Enterprise Level system than a CMS, in fact – it’s not a CMS at all. It’s a fully integrated business building system.

    Is it perfect? No. But, what is?

    The better question is this – What alternatives do you have with that type of feature set + in that price range? Nothing. (am I wrong?) Basically, the way I see it is this – you have 2 options if you don’t like Business Catalyst… Both suck.

    1. You could cram a bunch of open source stuff together and be ready to support the bug fixes, patches, updates, etc. Then, good luck teaching your client (a non-techy) how to use all that! This is not really an option.

    2. You could purchase a high-end system that does what BC does. Just FYI – these solutions start in the $50k to $100k range and usually start with names like IBM, SharePoint, and SAP. Not only are they a huge investment, but they take 6-12 months for an install + training! You can’t even re-sell these systems without certifications and coarse work and usually purchasing them first! (which I wish they would do with BC)

    OK, let me give some alternatives – based on the “NEEDS” of the client. Let’s end this with a positive.

    Here’s a list of software that is the best of it’s kind, as far as affordability goes, each listed by what it does best. For example, we’ll use Magento below – it’s an eCommerce system but there’s no way it would make a good CMS for the average business owner – it requires a technical pro to run it (unlike BC).

    - eCommerce / Small Stores – Shopify
    - eCommerce / Large Stores – Magento
    - Basic CMS / Blogging – WordPress (of coarse)
    - Basic CMS / Content – LightCMS
    - Open Source CMS – Joomla, Drupal, OSCommerce

    Now, you have add in the other “included” BC features, to be fair…

    (multiple examples listed)

    - Basic CRM – Pipeline Deals, Highrise, Sugar, vTiger
    - Email Marketing – Constant Contact, MailChimp, MailBuild
    - Analytics / Reporting – Google analytics or Reinvigorate.net

    And Lastly, the kicker – who is going to show the client how to mash all that up and successfully use it. I mean, even with BC our customers can’t remember their email passwords for more than a few weeks! How many logins can one non-techy handle? not many.

    Finally, add up the costing of that mixture and BC is a clear winner.

    Sorry this was longwinded, but I just don’t see how you’re going to match what BC is doing for the price. This is why we use it and our clients love it. This is also why it is “Still Around” and will be for a long, long time.

    Thanks for the post – it’s a good topic.

  • amanda

    i have to say, that i agree with some of points from this article..
    the most things i hate about BC is yes we can make our own template for the website, but to make the template fits to BC system is really frustating and takes lots of time..

    from the client side, i believe that BC makes everything easier for them, but i never met a client (from the place where i’m working now) who wants to update their own website by them self..they usually ask the developer to update it..

    but since i worked with a company who use this, i have no other option..

    sorry for the typo, english is not my first language :)

  • http://RyanDesignGroup.com Nick Ryan

    Love the comments!

    When I approach a project I define the problem then look at tools and solutions. For my client’s budget and needs that solution often involves BC. Sometimes it doesn’t, but most of the time it does.

    Understand the tool, use it when it’s appropriate and reach for something else when it’s not.

  • Leon Bouterse

    Hi guys. I run an internet agency in Holland and I have read this blog. Very interesting with helpfull tips.

    We are starting this month with adobe bc and will use it besides our tailormade solutions like magento, expression engine and in the past with joomla. So in my opinion we are able to offer the both of best world to our clients: custom solutions and the more standard solutions with adobe bc. My clients are not interested in tables css and other kind of technical stuff. From developers view it is an important issue. We are waiting on the next update.
    For us I guess bc will a very good alternative fora new segment of clients. I’m sure it will increase our sales. It has a lot usp’s to sell it to your clients.

    I mention that nobody is talking about the poor backup functions of adobe bc. I think this is really a missing function! Just google on: Adobe business catalyst a ‘Macking full back up’

  • http://www.bubblefish.nl Leon Bouterse

    Hi Nick

    I total agree with your approach:

    When I approach a project I define the problem then look at tools and solutions. For my client’s budget and needs that solution often involves BC. Sometimes it doesn’t, but most of the time

  • http://www.bubblefish.nl Leon Bouterse

    I found this on their website.

    What about data management? Do you provide back ups?
    Business Catalyst has a highly fault-tolerant server configuration in our data centers. For web and FTP servers, traffic is managed by a redundant pair of hardware load balancers, and in the event of a server failure, immediately and transparently distributed to the remaining servers in the pool. For database servers, there is instant failover to a mirror server for each database. Site assets (images, scripts, et cetera) are stored on NAS (Network Attached Storage) device with fault-tolerant disk configuration and redundant control units. Firewalls and other network hardware are also installed in redundant pairs for immediate failover in the case of malfunction. The data centers are also connected to the Internet through multiple links from different Internet service providers for added reliability.

    All servers also have regular full and differential backups. However, it is important to note that recovery procedures cannot be initiated for individual file backups, as they are intended to perform ‘full recovery’ of the servers in the event of a hardware or software failure only.

    At an individual site level, we provide several “backup” options for customers: you can use FTP to copy your web pages, templates, and layouts as often as you see fit. We also provide the Customer Report Generator to export all customer related information at your convenience.

    Another option for very complex sites would be to maintain a replica using our Notifications and Web Services API’s. We do always suggest you retain a copy of your site’s files and data locally, to protect from inadvertent file deletions in future by the site’s users. To further assist, a comprehensive site backup and transfer tool – where you can download the BC site into an archive and be able to upload it again as a whole complete BC site – is on the long term roadmap. We do not have an ETA for this at present.

  • Brando Bandido

    BC Lovers, can you trust BC when you build a complex system? Absolutely not. I think the only feature that BC can be proud of is it’s Ecommerce but it’s also even cannot be trusted for complexity. I know why some of you here are defending BC it’s because you have not yet gone through building complex systems. I would say BC is only for small time. No hard feelings BC Lovers.

  • Brando Bandido

    One example I could point out that made BC sucks is it’s custom fields. If you delete 20 fields, you have to do it 20 times to delete the 20! What the! And if you move the field from bottom (20th) to top (1st), you also have to do it 20 times! Again what the! So BC Lovers, is that a good system you’re boasting?

    I really hate it when I read this “Goodbye to 5+ systems, hello to Business catalyst”

  • Maria

    Business Catalyst is WordPress or Joomla version 0.5b
    Let me give you a few examples:

    1. besides the modulestyles CSS and the styles CSS that I have access to, it has another, hidden, that you cannot access or change. It has to do with forms. I’ve even encountered situations where even inline css would not overwrite it, let me tell you it was not fun….because why would you want total control over my website. oh yah, and it’s over-writes the float clear.

    2. no direct access to the database -> do I really need to tell you why this really sucks? Let’s say I want to connect my website with my internal ERP db….I have to do that through the API, which is rudimentary at best.

    3. creating forms – wow, really? mandatory fields that I cannot control! That is beyond stupid! I have a client that does not want mandatory e-mails. So that means making a web app…which come with it’s own sucky set of problems, such as the inability to send the application to her via e-mail. Both in WP and Joomla I have mountains of apps that allow me to do just that if I am a designer, not to mention that I am am a php programmer it takes me 10 minutes to write an piece of code that does exactly that. It took me 2.3 hours to finish making the 35 fields form in an web app (talk about usability) and style it….and then find the way to display it on the front end. Btw, did you know that you cannot display the form from the web app in the front-end as a module? It just inserts the damn thing into the page, so if you change it…yeah, you go to go back and change where-ever you put that thing. Took me 20 minutes to do the same thing in WordPress using Contact Form 7
    …and what if I want to use just Nickname, not First Name, Last Name, E-mail. Am I allowed to run my website as I want or I have to conform with Adobe’s high standards?

    4. It takes me twice as long to train my clients into using BC than Joomla and almost 3 times as much as WordPress. I still get e-mails from clients on how to do something, while my WordPress clients are home free. Do you have any idea how many times I had to fix the product catalogues that my BC clients messed up? Do you know how many times I had to fix them for Magento or Cubecart? NEVER! and I don’t provide website administering, I just give a turn-key solution. I chalenge you – time how long it takes you to publish an article on BC and how long on WordPress. You’ll have a shock.

    5. Usability wise, the platform sucks to high heaver. From adding and removing form items, to moving items up or down in a list, to not re-loading the page every time I do something in it, such as moving a form element higher in the list.

    The only reason why a business would want to use this is because it has money to waste. Everything that BC does is done better by practically every player on the market. “We offer an integrated solution”. It tries to combine a plans with a boat, a tank, a car, a forklift and a space shuttle. And it messes all of them up!

    The only reason why a development company would want to use BC as platform is because it only has point-and-click designers to do the job, no dev knowledge what-so-ever. Oh, about that: it takes 50% as much time to develop a BC template form scratch then a wordpress template. How ’bout that!

    It does not allow me access to my own database, however, none of the data stored in it is encrypted. That means Adobe has, in all moments, total view and access to my business, my sales, etc. That means that any hacker that comes along with half a brain can get to my client’s data. How come in a world in which we yell: Bastards, Google gathers anonymous data, we don’t yell about this obvious breach of security.

  • http://www.cimarketing.com.au Mark Barrett

    Hi Guys,

    Would love to jump in here. We are successfully using BC to run major retail and brand websites – some that have traffic of 20,000+ uniques a day and databases of 100K subscribers.

    In terms of SEO, many of our BC sites are leading Google rankings in very competitive search terms.

    The BC web apps tool is incredibly powerful and easy to manage.

    I see talk of wordpress and expression engine etc, but for value for money and ease of deployment, I have not yet seen any all-in-one system that comes close to BC.

    We exclusively build in BC, have over 150 websites live/in production and are very happy.

    Once you know the rules of the game, it is very easy to play. I believe that those that get upset/frustrated with BC are usually just starting out and haven’t worked out the capabilities of the system so that they can guide their clients through the scoping phase correctly.



    • Whiteka

      What is the name of your company? We’re looking for someone to help us build a site :) Kathryn

  • http://www.glintadv.com Jessica

    I would have to agree with disliking BC. I had three clients put on this system before I became head developer at my company, I didn’t have a say in this decision. Within the year all three clients decided they hated the system, and either had us redevelop the site which cost our company $$, or refused to work with us anymore because they blamed the system’s problems on us.

    Our phones were constantly ringing with complaints from these clients, because the BC support system is very slow. And when BC does reply they are very ambiguous in their answer, which makes the problem last longer because you have to reply to their e-mail again to get a clarified response.

    The clients we were able to save, and allow us to redo their website has yet to call us with a CMS or payment issue, and it has been almost a year now.

    I would find other solutions before paying into BC, and then again having your clients have to pay to use the system. There are better CMS and ECommerce solutions out there other then BC. And honestly, we have received leads from these CMS and ECommerce solutions, whereas BC, we had received nothing but a black hole.

  • http://batiugnindot.wordpress.com/ Brando Bandido

    Say Goodbye to Adobe Business Catalyst! Say Hello to 5+ CMS!

  • http://fueldesign.co.nz Liam Dilley

    I was going to echo some of the other guys here. But they did a good job.

    BC has it’s issues just as any other system But a lot of your comments are simply down to lack of experience. You could form any opinion on any CMS which would be similar just because of lack of knowledge of what it can and can not do.

    Pricing is one that people raise.
    Add the level of security, the DA’s being used, the support, the server maintenance costs, upgrades to that hardware, constant seamless or near seamless upgrade of the system to all your sites, security certificate and the costs for that blended into that cost….
    When you do this with other systems when you add it up over a year it is actually not that disimilar.

    In terms of the admin and iframes and its design. It was built a while ago. Yep it is old but it is far from the comments made by yourself. Plenty of up to date loved systems which are similar or worse. For the time when it was launched it was very modern really.

    As for some of the issues not addressed by people in terms of lack of knowledge..

    BC knows the system is dated and is working on V3 of the system.

    - More API support, new interface design and structure, new system modular structure and more.

    If this post was titled – “Things I do not like or have issue with” and the tone you posted was overly harsh, as you see in many aspects were also wrong.
    While well written you clearly went into a wrong mindset about the system and not a way to write it.

  • Jay

    Wow, there are a lot of BC die hards who look offended! I can say this, also from a developers perspective, that BC does indeed suck.

    While any system can be learned over time, how “good” the system is vs how “bad” it is, is really determined by a few basic factors. How easy is it to learn, how easy is it to expand. To learn a system, you need a few things. First, you need a truly intuitive interface. This is seriously lacking in BC. Second, you need good reference material. Now, while BC has tutorials and a forum, there isn’t a whole lot out there. Honestly, any system starting out will have less information, but due to the fact that the system is expensive and cumbersome, the information about how to use it and customize it just hasn’t grown like it should.

    Expanding the system is seriously limited. Other systems, like those that leverage PHP, can be extended easily. This is proven by the sure number of free and paid plugins available. What plugins exist for BC? How much do they cost? I have a customer who whats a job board along with content management. I cannot recommend BC, because though it may be possible to create a custom full-blown job board using webapps, it’s far too difficult. It would be dishonest for me to say, yeah use it, when I can just install any number of PHP content management tools and get a free plugin. Free + free = cheap for customer. I’m not out to take my customers to the cleaners.

    • rhinobryan

      Who cares! You guys can use whatever you like. If you know code, business catalyst is very easy to use. Adobe being the biggest leader in the industry can be trusted period. I really hope none of my competitors start using it. I am so sick of seeing this site pop up when I google any BC questions. Maybe I shouldn’t though. It is great for my business. If you can’t figure out a job board and content management using BC then you should stick to templates and not deceive your customers into believing yoju know what you are doing. BC rocks!

  • BC Does Suck

    To top it off Adobe’s support is a joke. You can’t talk to anyone via phone and your emails are handled by uneducated knowledge base cut and paste robots. If your serious about websites then stay away from BC. Don’t put your business on the line with a system where you can never talk to a live human. Adobe’s support has caused egg on our face many times because the support personnel don’t understand what the issues are, and the issues are many. Run don’t walk from BC. Look’s great but performs about 25% as advertised. You would spend less and get 10000% more support with Rackspace.

  • Maria

    Other reasons I feel BC is idiotic:
    - you cannot remove/delete a web app item once it was created.
    - you cannot remove/delete a FAQ item once it was created
    - it has no internal search engine for module items. I have a website with 560 FAQ entries on W alone, for different categories. If I need to change something in one, I have to guess on what page that goes.
    - I cannot reorganize the way the FAQ questions or web app items appear in the page. They will always show in the order they are created. No way around that.

    I just love how some people blame it on lack of experience. ‘Scuze me, but no amount of experience will remove the need to delete or change positions of items. Seems like usability 101 for any tool.

    Let’s put it this way: how would you feel if you went to Home Depot and you purchased a hammer only to get home and realize that:
    - you cannot use on all nails, but only a specific brand
    - you cannot hit the nails on the head, you have to do it sidewise in an angle of exactly 78dg or it will not work (or break)
    Now, what would you tell the Home Depot employee who would refuse to exchange the hammer on the account that “You lack experience with it. Just take it home and learn to work around the limitations”?

    • http://arnorhs.com/ arnorhs

      Valid arguments. I like the home depot comparison :)

    • Anonymous

      For an all-inclusive site, what are the best alternatives?

  • http://www.boonbase.com Chris Henning

    We use BC for all our websites. Best system we’ve ever used!!!

  • Raymond trangia

    I know i’m just like you b4 cause i’m using wp,jmla,ci,php, but you can’t be rich without experimenting haha

  • Rick

    1. Terrible support (zero by phone, forums are close to useless, and a promised 8-hour response time can result in no response at all). This should be reason enough, seeing as if something goes wrong on the BC-end then we have nothing to tell our clients and look like drooling neanderthals. I don’t expect 24/7 support, but considering I dropped $2000 to become a “partner”, I should be getting a bit more.

    2. Email is shaky at best, despite being a major selling-point.

    3. EXTREMELY limited design options in regards to tags, multiple web-app layouts, and e-commerce.

    4. Bookings cannot have unique prices, unless you go into the code, create multiple web-forms, burn incense and pray (none of which you should expect your client to have to do).

    I could go on, but seeing as I’ve been using the system for over a year and consider myself a competent web developer, and seeing productivity drop due to troubleshooting/lack of support/jerry-rigging, I won’t be using it again.

    • Anonymous

      1. BC has live chat for partners as the platform is focused on allow partners to be the expert to their own clients, in the last 18 months there has hardly been a time when I could not get live chat support instantly.
      2.Email is awesome now
      3.Unlimited options only limited by designer.
      4. You need to be able to code, funny that.

  • http://jasondaydesign.com Jason Day

    As a web designer, and somewhat developer, what other system would you suggest if not BC?

    For client sites (and most of my clients are small businesses without the tools to do anything technical) I use systems such as Joomla, WordPress, some Drupal, and I’ve recently started using Concrete5. But all of these systems annoy me in one fashion or another. I have been searching for a platform to do 80+% of my client sites on.

    I need a system that may be similar to BC but with pricing similar or less than BC. Silverstripe? or any others?

  • http://www.lifeionizers.com Alkaline Water

    We’re managing around 75 different domains. The CMS/eCommerce solutions range from a WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Shopify, OS Commerce and Magento installations. I can say that the one domain that is on BC is by far the most difficult and (in my experience) the least flexible. I also feel like the learning curve for BC is set pretty high.
    In short, I’m not a fan.

  • http://enteract.com.au Ben Lyden

    I’d have to agree with Alkaline above. Our experience is that you end up in a corner one way or another. The fact that you cant access the code base behind BC sucks. It’s an amazing platform, but in the end BC is for noobs.

  • Rick

    ExpressionEngine has been amazing. We took a site that we began on BC and built it out in a little over a week, having already spent almost 3 weeks with BC (a lot of that time ironing out bugs and jerry-rigging things to get them to work.), and that’s with no previous EE experience.

    I strongly suggest checking them out. Amazing support, very flexible, etc…

  • Kieran

    arnorhs I have been searching on “businesscatalyst x y z” for the last month and your post comes up first page most times.

    Which is really funny because most of the time it cleanly expresses exactly what I’m thinking.

    Not that funny though when I think about how much money and time I’ve lost on this project.

    BC has the nerve to put “Goodbye Coding Costs. Hello Higher Profits” on their front page. Are you guys for real? I can’t believe developers can work on this dog’s breakfast and sleep at night.

    OK the BC system is so completely breathtakingly awful I don’t even know where to start. I agree with arnorhs on every point. OK point 8 has a minor detail wrong but the gist of it is 100%. The interface is awful. The {tag} layout is awful. I’ll just pull out a couple of rubbish things I remember about today’s wading through the BC treacle.

    - You can’t list the tags for an individual post? It wouldn’t bother me if I had some back end access but since I have to do everything in js this leaves me no way to differentiate one post from another short of telling the user to manually add a tag to their posts!

    - The user, once having seen a page on the secure server, logs in to the insecure server and is not logged in to the secure server. And vice versa. I’m serious.

    Anyway that’s just today.

    And can I say lastly that I am an Australian developer and we do good coding here! I have no idea how Adobe picked this up but I can only imagine there were only marketing people involved because any serious developer would not touch it with a barge-pole. You guys above I can only assume have already invested money and are defending what is honestly and obviously a piece of

  • Mal

    I checked out Business Catalyst about 18 months ago. I am still impressed by the marketing videos but I see it still has all the issues that put be off it in the first place.

    Thanks for this post Arnorhs. And thanks to all that have replied on all sides.

    Definately a very useful Business Catalyst Review for 2011.


  • AJinOz

    As a business owner of a BC site I have to agree with the initital poster!

    Although fairly computer savvy, I find BC very frustrating and hard to use. I’d like to add a “contact us” button, that my web master didn’t include (go figure) however have no idea where to start.

    The fonts are limited and placing other objects (such as pictures) impossible. My site now looks totally trashed with the changes I’ve tried to make.

    Like anything I guess, it’s always easier if you know how. I found a brief Skype call and a 20 page “How to” introduction booklet just doesn’t cut it after I was told how simple the site was to use! Not what I was expecting for a $5K site with only 1 product in the online store!

  • neo

    Ha ha, so funny! BC sucked? I don’t think so. I have worked with BC 6 months and it was really good! Sometimes, we must customize it and it is a hard-work. But Joomla, drupal are same! Nothing is perfect! Perhaps, BC is not a perfect CMS but it is a good CMS! Pretty sure! :)

  • http://www.businesscatalyst.com.hk Business Catalyst

    Yes sometimes it suck! But I can say that it can still be very helpful to ones who plan a business online.

  • Guilherme

    Web development is for programmers. Designers and scriptkiddies may use this kind of crap. But even wordpress is much better: because of community… This product is buried, its a matter of time

    • Marko

      How’s that prediction going?

    • Nick

      Guilherme – I would hate to be your client!

  • http://www.webmosphere.co.uk Dave

    I ditched everything else when I found BC- frankly, I think I underpaid! …..but don’t tell BC!

    • Mike Walsh

      I love WP, but imagine all the work and testing you would have to do to get all that BC offers in one package…

  • http://businesscatalyst.com/ AussieBCuser

    I’m a long-time BC user. Yes, it has sucked, and does suck in many respects. But in a lot of respects it definitely does not suck.
    I can definitely say BC is evolving at an amazing speed not that Adobe has really pushed the pedal to the metal. The Partner area, the knowledgebase and a lot of BC functions have been completely reworked. I’m just hoping they’ll get to the admin interface soon – especially the text editor for pages and email marketing.

    Yes, the sales videos portray everything as being as easy-as-pie and in actual fact there’s a lot of hair pulling (in certain areas). But at the end of the day you have a very powerful tool.
    Having your CMS, CRM, email marketing, ecommerce and of course reporting, all in one place under one admin interface is great.

    I think most of the complaints involve code and small details – at the end of the day the overall package is almost unbeatable, and it’s not just a CMS, it really is an “online business”.

    The email debacle at the start of this year was a killer – I was ready to walk away…. but the new system seems really solid. It took a while for me to forgive BC for that. But I definitely won’t forget. Clients were seriously affected and we partners bore the brunt of their frustration.

    I think if you had a ‘cook-off’ (sorry, watching too much Masterchef) between systems you’d find it hard to set up a site including ecommerce and email marketing, with customer lists in place, as quickly as you can in BC.

    I’m still sold, but seriously looking forward to major improvements from Adobe, which I know are happening.

    And by the way, Rick’s comments about lack of support – yes, for a while there it was pretty shocking but in recent months the instant chat support has been nothing short of incredible.

  • http://businesscatalyst.com/ AussieBCuser

    Oops – meant to type…..I can definitely say BC is evolving at an amazing speed NOW that Adobe has really pushed the pedal to the metal.

  • http://be.net/lazurgraphics Janine Lazur

    I want to thank all of the commenters. I’m salivating over Muse so was checking out Business Catalyst today. Doing due diligence before recommending that a client and I try it, I Googled “Business Catalyst reviews” and this review was the top result. Of course, seeing the headline and skimming the review, I was crestfallen. But glad to see people with experience with it coming to its defense.

  • Tyson

    BS is chunky 1990′s simulator software. It’s unintuitive and completely unsuitable for any non tecnical clients. As a developer I find it an altogether hideous and badly architected experience.

    Even without trying to customise much, as a website CMS / builder it is vastly inadequate in comparision to the likes of wordpress.

    There is a lot of integrated tools included, however getting a client to figure out where to even find them is a big challenge. Typical example – only the other day I had to screen share and walk one client through finding the actual message body of a contact form submission – and it took me a few minutes to find it myself!

    Goodbye and good riddance BC!

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  • kal

    Anyone know if the http for the admin can be disabled or redirected to https? also, can SFTP not be used? if not then i won’t bother signing up, as that’s pretty slack. I’ve emailed BC but haven’t had a reply yet…

  • http://www.88kbbq.com Kevin

    I’d like to chime in here. I am a business owner and very familiar with the web development process. Occasionally, I check up on ABC to see if some upgrades have been implemented. I first stumbled upon GoodBarry years ago and liked it, but my list of disappointments start with localization.

    BC does suck when it comes to multilingual sites. It can’t handle UTF8 well and you must use subdomains when adding an additional language. JS must be used to change system messages, but the checkout must be in one language, and that does suck. I don’t know why, with the exception of Magento, CMS and e-commerce platforms think English is the only language of business.

    Next is SEO. No canonical URLs, no microformating, illogical heading tags, and URL rewrites. Maybe they’re better now on the last one, but I know there are still issues on this one.

    Real customization is impossible. Who wants a website that looks, feels, and operates like all other sites? I want special features and custom address input for my country. I want my custom shipping and payment gateways. I want my business to stand out from the rest, not just fit in. The way the system is designed needs to be reworked from the ground up to allow custom code in a secure environment. But seeing how updates were painfully slow when I was using it, I don’t think this will ever happen.

    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. But I’m cheering for it!

  • http://ItNeverHappened Eldon Olmstead

    I know this is a developer’s website, but you threw out the statement about BC and business owners probably being all happy with it. Think again…if the developer doesn’t know how the site works it becomes a train wreak. And, our experience was just that…a train wreak.

    BC offers great promise and if you watch the tutorials you get the picture of the happy business owner raking in cash; I don’t think our developer watched a single one. We lost so much time and money and had to pull the plug. Now we’re back at square one, poorer but wiser.

  • Digg Doug

    You are an idiot, business catalyst is a good product and this post should be 11 reasons why you are a crybaby :)

    • Mike

      NO kidding

  • Luke

    We are a pretty big advertising agency and have been actually getting the couple clients have have on business catalyst OFF it. The lack of flexibility and no control over down time issues is really making us look bad. It was a great system before adobe bought it and it seemingly fell apart. Its a great system if you use it EXACTLY how its setup and don’t try to make your own setup.

  • Kirkkenny

    It’s a frustrating system that in many cases only delivers what a modified WordPress could deliver. There are pluses, like the e-commerce but simple things like trying to have white text pages on dark backgrounds (go on, set up a template and edit it. The background’s always white!) just scream rush job.

  • Smiley

    Boo …….. your blog sucks ……….

  • http://www.krop.com/mikal-ali/ Mikal Ali

    I believe this deep hatred for bc is supported by Quote on Quote developers that have to compete with not so code codependent designers and business owners that are not likely to be crying the blues for their expert advice and in many cases have small business owners over a barrel when it comes to simple changes to their website.

    Times “are-a-changing” web development includes allot more these days not just open source communities where “you” can do cool stuff no one else can. Bc allows the “new web developer” to actually help the client make money with a few very good integrated tools that seem to get better all the time.

    I can remember the same arguments about all the so called great “free” products out there. There are so many issues you are missing that are critical to site development with small and medium size clients.

    Yes, the site platform is great for designers and marketers because it allows them to design and market and not screw around with building a contact form and the like. Sure some things are tough to build but..hello the others have the same issues.

    How many of you bc experts have a premium partnership? If you can’t even afford to experiment as a real agency then – basically you are out of the loop and just hating and hoping it fails and not even in the mix frankly. You just got locked out is all..and I understand that is frustrating. lol

    Anyway for those searching bc is a super product for what it is and I’ve been a partner for about 2 years and developer for 15 – I can recommend it for what it does do correctly and not for what it does not.

    Sure I get frustrated with it but HELLO… farting around in any CMS like Joomla or WP is no cake walk…not to mention setting up hosting provisions security updates and plug in dependency. Just something to think about.

    People criticized the phone when it first came out…come to think of it the also talked about Dreamweaver pretty bad – I remember when GOLIVE was king. Solid company solid reputation bright future for bc.

    wrote this fast sorry for grammar and typos.

  • dan

    This is a very amusing post.
    Pigheaded and ignorant developers who like to blow their own horn, particularly like the guy who made mention that “I know why some of you here are defending BC it’s because you have not yet gone through building complex systems.” what a load of codswallow.
    personally a web developer who cannot figure out BC, or how to customise it, or how to fully utilise its system for VERY LARGE AND COMPLEX SYSTEMS is just a wolf in sheeps clothing. believes they are king s**t but in reality they are just an inadequate employee. A poor excuse for a developer, and just an idiot. sorry but its true. dont kid me that joomla or drupal are better for handing over to a client, who are you kidding? I can say with all honesty that it has been a breath of fresh air to NOT have to ever show my clients that sort of rubbish ever again. developer – yes drupal/joomla great. client? epic fail.
    so as to the original poster…
    your point 1 and 3 is the same. so we are down to 10 reasons.
    point 2 is incorrect so we are down to 9.
    when v3 is released in the end of this year/ early next point 4 will thus be invalid as well. so we are down to 8.
    its built on asp.net, ever heard of that? so we are down to 7.
    the price compared to similar systems that offer the same or similar is actually quite reasonable. so for me i’m scratching that one as well. down to 6.
    you can use filemaker pro and set it up so that you can update any of the data, and use it like a database, stored locally that speaks to BC. it has a few more than just an ecommerce api. so we down to 5.
    point 8 is completely wrong, and even a “noob” can figure out how to modify that. down to 4.
    why would you want more than a basic wysiwyg editor (thats for the client, not you) again showing your poor knowledge or skill. or efficiency. you are a developer right? so why are you using a wysiwyg editor? down to 3.
    closed platform. sure valid point. give you that one.
    make your templates in dreamweaver, use the plugin in dreamweaver to manage your sites/templates.
    using custom themes? are you a developer or just a bulls**t wanker? make you own you fool. for the record you can use any html/css template found on the web. it really does integrate that well. you just dont know it, and you’ve shown your ignorance on a pretty major scale.

    so your post should be renamed the one thing I dont like about BC is its a closed platform!

    and the idiot who has been designing websites since the 80′s, do you take us all as fools? intranets and systems perhaps, but websites?
    and designing? sorry they wernt “designed” back then. straight text baby…

    oh and the live chat function is pretty good and the bc support staff are very helpful. give it a try sometime…
    love to get that level of support with joomla or drupal. oh thats right, they dont have that do they!…again epic fail.

    “Next is SEO. No canonical URLs, no microformating, illogical heading tags, and URL rewrites. ”
    again this is not only laughable but entirely not true.

    all I can say is that those that are bagging it are either.
    1. crap developers or
    2. cannot learn a really simple system, so therefore are stupid or
    3. both.

    I’m not going to deny it has a few issues. but certainly no more than other systems I’ve used. and I’ve been in the game for 14 years now.


    • Johnny

      Developer skill level has nothing to do with how crap BC is.
      Therefore, YOU are stupid.

    • Johny

      Actually, you have no idea what you are talking about. If you can’t figure out how to customize BC to do what you want, then you are definitely not a real developer. I’ve yet to see a client side interface as easy to use as BC’s. This entire article is nothing more than an attempt to drive traffic to his site when people search for Business Catalyst.

    • cebu developer

      yeah yeah easy client side interface but for $200? ?????

      give me a break.!!!

    • John

      Where do you get this information? Per the BC FAQ:

      “Is there a setup charge for your plans?

      There is no setup charge for any of Business Catalyst plans. Your client simply chooses the plan that best suits their business and then pays for it on a monthly basis. Note: If you are a Premium Partner using our Consolidated Billing feature, you are able to charge clients a set up fee on top of their on-going monthly bill.”

    • John

      I should add, I don’t charge a set-up fee. maybe you hit another partner site that does.

    • http://www.facebook.com/edgar.walkowsky Edgar Walkowsky

      It’s not about figuring out, the system does not let you customise much of anything. For example, I wanted to use my own spam stopping code in the enquiry forms. There was no way to edit the for processing code. Make my own one? Nope, the FTP would not allow me to upload an aspx file.

    • Wessel Bosman

      Completely true, it took me a few hours to modify an HTML template to work with BC, it’s not hard at all.

      The Built in CRM is a massive advantage for business clients who can’t do anything but send emails and edit wor documents. To teach Joomla to someone like this is impossible.

      BC isn’t my favourite system, but it really isn’t all that bad.

  • Pattyp

    During the last 12 months I’ve been a freelance web developer/engineer. My background is with big corporates programming large intranet/web-based middle-ware mostly in ASP.NET and PHP, but I worked on some Java for a few months. Anyway, decided to try something different with and more mainstream, so moved into commercial web development. – Point is – during the last 12 months I’ve developed or worked on sites in Drupal, Joomla, Concrete5, SilverLine, WordPress and Business Catalyst or straight up home-brew CMS.

    Hands down, Business Catalyst is the fastest platform to get a multi-facet site up and running to a viable level – including user groups, user generated content, content search, advertising, SEO, eCommerce, security, eDMs, CRM, analytics, etc, etc. All this stuff makes customers drool and you [as a developer] can deliver at a very competitive price with a tight schedule.

    BC is definitely far more “limited” than Drupal, and its interface is not as nice as Concrete5, but man its all there and customising the client side stuff is simple HTML, CSS and jQuery – with some {tag} to help drive the dynamic content.

    If a customer adamantly wants a Free/open-source CMS then I’d go Concrete5 first, then Drupal if the site is really complex, but both would take nearly double the coding time in Themes, module set-up, content creation and reporting when compared to Business Catalyst. The [BC] admin is less complex than Drupal can be, but still a little too obscure to be perfect for a client hand-off, but when a client finally gets the gist, the consistent approach through-out the BC CRM, CMS and Analytics makes customer handover less of a nightmare.

    Biggest Gripes with BC is the lack of conditional statements and the lack of control over WebApp templates. Not as bad as it sounds because BC will automatically do a whole lot for you in the back-end.

    My advice is don’t fall in love with your CMS just because its “all you know”… If you found yourself forced to work on multiple over a period of time you would really start to see the best (and worst) of what most CMS offer. Business Catalyst has a lot to offer and if it keep improving, there really wont be much competition imo.

    • Kuchy

      Thank you SO much for your informed post. I’m about to start work on rebuilding a half dozen basic websites around a CMS and trying to decide between Drupal or BC. I have been in the game for a couple of years and know my stuff but do not consider myself a developer by a long shot.

      I have used Drupal and to be honest find it both frustrating and exciting to use… digging deep into the bowels of the system for customization etc… and hunting around for interesting modules… but that is also part of my worry… spending AGES trying to get something to work and trying to get it looking perfect. Also, Ecommerce is tricky to set up whereas with BC it looks like a breeze.

      My biggest gripe with BC is having to pay an extra $200 just to get the social functionality. However, I sure as hell like the idea of Adobe developers constantly improving the system on the back end and not having to constantly think about manually updating my local installations…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=716349771 Guido Serio

      Also, regarding conditional statements and output code customization, there are going to be big news soon as the team is deploying “liquid markup” for the next BC 3 :-)

  • Lana

    Hi Arnorhs, I am a business catalyst user. Everytime I google something for it your page comes up! Great SEO!

    I think it’s great you voice your opinion and I respect that – but I searched for 6 months trying to find an all in one solution to a website system, CRM, etc and Business Catalyst was the BEST i found. (I run a company – so i’m not a web designer / developer / technical person..)

    While I may sometimes be a bit frustrated by Business Catalyst, I also do believe they are the best system out there. Plus they are always improving it.

    Basically I just wanted this comment to be known and that not everything about it sucks to everyone – maybe you were having a bad day (no judgement! we have all been there!). But I think business catalyst rocks.

    (P.S I really mean this comment nicely :) I just always see your page pop up it makes me a little sad).

  • Johnny

    I am by no means an incompetent developer. You know why?

    Because I have to visit Help & Support to see if something is possible only to be told they will add it to their wishlist.

    Woop de f**king doo.

  • Thang

    BC is as frustrating to developers as it is to our accounts staff.

    Why is it so difficult to have something as simple as a ProductID on a Customers and Orders report?
    BC’s workaround? Open up the C/O report and an Excel document containing the product codes and copy them over.
    Gee, had I known that was the only way I wouldn’t gone to Help & Support in the first place.

  • Nick

    I am no fan of BC in any way that’s Why I am reading this article, But i can’t take your case as credible as your experience with the system is obviously limited, and you seem to have formed an opinion before even giving it a chance .

    Point 2 – It uses tables extensively is incorrect yes it does have an option for a table based e-commerce layout but also has a list view as well.

    Template editing through WYSIWYG is also incorrect and i’m sure i could pull up more inconsistencies with your argument but that means i would have to read the rest of the article.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EYV6TGVJY6IEITDZ4TT5HROA2Y mikal

    For people searching for bc information and land on this site and read the starting issues on this blog about bc are DATED. Not only are they dated but not accurately posted when it was new over a year ago.

    Having said that there have been lots of changes. It’s funny reading posts and frustrations on some of the simplest things to do on bc. To me they are funny – to someone new they look like issues. I think I read one post where someone was upset they could not make white text on dark background which actually has nothing to do with bc and everything to do with css.

    People like to compare Joomla and wordpress to business catalyst when you simply can’t they are different animals. Show me a cms/crm/email marketing/ecommerce systems then lets talk about which is better and simpler to use. Free plug in dependent cms systems that need to be patched and updated along with hosting and plug in updates is not easy and is a pain in the…. costs more and for geeks that just sit and code and don’t really run online business. Well they may run business but… well you know what I mean.

    Bc thumbs up we have about 15 sites on bc – no issues, no competition.

    Just my thoughts on it.

  • Kelly

    Wow… there is a lot in your post that rings true!!! I have never seen such a platform that was all over the place!! Dear Lord!
    But, I’m starting to “get it”.

    I think the main thing is this: BC is a platform that allows one to easily add Apps to an existing web site. NOTE: I said existing web site. I would NEVER EVER try to design my entire web site within the BC platform. I would use DreamWeaver or Expression Web to actually make my Templates so I had a nice looking site. I would also plan sections of my templates and pages so I can easily add the Modules where i want them and how I want them to flow must be planned ahead of time.

    Again, design your site outside of BC…. use BC to add the modules. But all in all, holy hell expensive.

  • Amanda J Mcphee

    Thank you. This was my first instinct when looking at the product, and you have saved me the time of investigating further. Thanks so much for posting your take on this.

  • Rick Allan

    Okay.. so if I were a small start-up in Australia wanting to sell online, with minimal designer experience, wanted the best value for $$$ and was looking for a hosted online cart solution.. who would I use then? BC, Shopify, Magento Go, 3dcart, Volusion, Big Commerce, Spiffy, list goes on….

  • john

    so i got a question..

    -Admin has the ability to add/edit list of class and set a number of seats as availability.
    -Each class will display course name, description, schedule and cost
    -On the front end the list of class will be listed in an organized fashion
    -An attendee will have the ability to select a class based on a certain schedule, use a web form to pay the fees to register
    -Once paid for the class, a confirmation email will be sent to the attendee and an order email will be sent to the admin
    -The admin will be able to log in and see all his classes, the number of open classes, number of registered attendees, total revenue, transaction history, attendee contact list
    -Once the classes has been filled, show a red sign that says “Session Closed”. Or maybe even remove it from the available list of classes

    ^— can these be done in BC?

    • cebu developer

      those can be done on BC but are you willing to do all of those through JavaScript?

      remember even if how many time they say that BC has a lot of features, its still a CMS and we all know that CMS standards cant always meet the features of a project. the only way to solve this is to hack your way to get it done and in a safer way. Joomla, WordPress , drupal are open source CMS which means developers can modify the core files of the system which is a must on building technical sites.

      on the other hand, Business Catalyst is no an open source CMS which leaves you to do JavaScript which works on your browser instead of the server. which means if you run your JavaScript codes in a non-JavaScript browser, it wont work.

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  • Alex Cumbers

    BC V3 addresses many UI shortcomings & Adobe are really getting behind the platform with many enhancements coming. And since when is $40 a month expensive!!?

  • Aaa99999bbb

    I’ve been using BC for a couple of years.

    I can tell that Adobe is pushing them hard to make changes lately.

    They no longer remembers and email you the raw password on “forgot password” link.

    They finally stopped letting you browse and export customers’ raw password in admin interface.

    These two changes both happened in last few months after ignoring for years. Isn’t it a huge leap?

  • cebu developer

    Search “business catalyst review” on Google and this blog is on the 3rd place..
    and when is saw the tag “11 Reasons Why Business Catalyst Sucks by @arnorhs”

    i viewed the link right away. its pretty disturbing for a BC marketer if there are blogs like this.
    i say those guys who hated the post so much, are some newbie Business Catalyst outsourcing companies or freelancers.

    if you know what you are doing then don’t comment on this post. you only made it more popular.

    i have been around with BC way back 2007 until present. if i show the BC tutorial videos to my client, 70% of them approved.

    but 70% that approved are stupid clients, or the project is just for a standard sites if you know what i mean.

    Business Catalyst sucks on complex sites.
    turn off js settings on your browser, and it breaks.

    their API feature loads slow. BC only knows how to market their product by giving their partners / wholesalers some auzzy clients. to be a partner, you gotta pay them.

    lets get real.

    the whole point is its easy to develop BC unless the site is easy, else
    i have to go to WordPress or Joomla because its free ad open-source.
    if i have to pay for a nice CMS i would rather choose My-source matrix.

  • PAPA

    Man, it sucks… I have spent 80% of my development time (first time on Catalyst) working around their inadequacies and incompetent systems… and it is an expensive service which arrogantly asks business partners (the people who will put customers on it so Adobe can get rich) to pay 1,800??? and lastly you cannot call anybody at Adobe to get help… bloody nice… trying the Microsoft approach on web development… they sell Windows through HP, but they do not support their product, HP does… MS only talks to you if you pay for the call… love it…

    Here’s the simple stuff I experienced and wasted my time trying to learn:

    1. Adding an icon to shopping cart that changes from empty to full with the cart…
    2. cannot remove “shopping cart is empty” page, you need to live with it then have the store redirect through JS
    3. Cannot mass delete from product catalogues database
    4. Column descriptions and types for database non existent (or at least I cannot find anything other than their useless XL template with column names like: unit type (optional), which does not explain a bloody sigle thing about what it is
    5. Popular products are manually managed, not based on top selling… so more manual intervention by user

    The list goes on. I am taking all my customers off BC… it was BORN BAD… I guess though it aligns to Dreamweaver somewhat … where the layout view shows you anything but a layout… 2 out of 2 Adobe!

  • PAPA

    Do not forget that their service SUCKS too… they make it VERY DIFFICULT to find someone with a heartbeat to interact with (keeping costs down, but not for partners… as it is an expensive service)… and then the interaction is poor and somewhat lacks the heartbeat all the same… why so hard to find a way to contact BC? THEY DO NOT WANT YOU TO… CHEAPER FOR THEM…

  • Iansettlemire

    I’ve been using BC for three months. I would not recommend it and wish I never bought it. I wanted to integrate my Access database, automate online orders and use email marketing. The problems I’m finding are it’s very slow to do anything and there are so many steps and “clicks” to make simple changes. My Access database is about 100 times faster and automates a lot more of the data input. The conventions it uses for names, passwords, emails etc is very restrictive. I have experience with Dreamweaver, but this interface and editing pages is totally counter-intuitive and downright confusing. I’m almost entirely dependent on my Web developer to make any changes. I’ve had problems with getting order confirmation emails as well. I plan to cancel this and do a custom site after one year with BC.

  • Donna

    did you do your homework at all?
    While you’re wasting your time writing Bullsh*t blogs like this, I’m off using adobe business catalyst to build cool, easy to integrate sites. My clients are happy. I’m happy. And you’re just sitting there doing what?

    If somebody out there is scared to get started with BC or think you can’t build a great web design business using it – then go check out the gallery of sites created and then head on over to places like SimpleFlame.com and Tribevita.com – oh and Kiyuko.com (all owned by Simple Flame). That is what we did you get started and we have quick integration and happy happy clients. It’s not uncommon for us to put up a complete, robust site in just 2 weeks. (And no, I don’t work for simple flame, just a fan and got my business started using them which gave us a shorter, faster learning curve.)

    Get smart people. The old world of websites are dead. Using an integrated system like BC allows me to hand the reigns off to a client to EASILY upload and manage their own content (unlike Joomla). OR – get paid appropriately to manage it all for them. Either way, clients and us both win!

    good luck!

  • Masmatas

    thanks mate, it does suck, what it tough me is, that if you want to research a program you can waist a few month of your life on, do your research differently as Adobe obviously is comparable to a peacock showing its glory but on the end of the day has little to be proud of, so anyway, research the other way around, like I have done after all the work, and find site, that tells you it sucks!!!!!!!!!!!! As it does, you cannot even upload videos over 100 megabytes, definately a 90 s, invention I am wild, burn the crap! let alone find an easy way to put into your website with constant new content to be added to your website, screw websites too, just do you tube! Hey someone please let me know if there is a tweak on how to change settings on which I can upload my videos and I might change my mind

  • Masmatas

    oh and did I read somewhere that Catalyst has now been obsolete or was that a dream?

  • Faruk

    Why bother where there is a free WordPress with 1000′ templates and plugins.

  • thinkluke
  • Anonymous

    Looking for alternatives to BC I have landed here. Interesting debate. My 2 cents. Loved BC before it was adobe. They really seemed to care and things were moving in the right direction. Now that adobe has it – well … i’m here looking for alternatives. Anyone used this as an option to BC? – http://www.bloomtools.com/

  • Christopher Ohlsen

    I’m just beginning to use BC… I am a WordPress user and at first Glance BC seems to be really limited. However, as I am delving in I can see that I can pretty much do anything that I want on it. However, the forums seems a bit light on documentation and it seems that whenever I google for an answer paid forums pop up (like BC Guru)… A little bit of a learning curve on the dev side when not familiar with it… but it is a solid, stable, and fast platform… and extremely easy client side.

  • Ben

    It sucks.

    I’ve been coding since before PCs existed. My clients have a system based around BC. I’ve been trying to set up a new site for them using the template of the old one.

    It would be so much simpler to have created the whole thing from scratch.

    Sure, if you’ve been using BC since the year dot, you probably know all the work-arounds that exist to make it work. If you haven’t, well, good luck trying.

    What you tend to get with BC is the tail wags the dog. You can’t have the site you want, because BC doesn’t work that way, so you have the site that works with BC. That’s just plain wrong.

    Take mailing lists. Imagine that you want to remove one mailing list from another. How do you do that ? Well, it’s not straightforward – export data, do what you need to do to remove data in Excel, or Access, or a SQL database, re-import.

    I’ve been using BC for over a year now, I think it’s absolutely dreadful. Awful. And without knowledge of CSS, HTML and Javascript, you’re not going to be able to use it. And if you have that knowledge – code yourself. It will be quicker. Really.

  • Nina

    I agree with this post. It is not hard to figure out BC, it is just that BC is crap. WordPress is a much better way to go and you can customize it to have all of the features you need to manage a business. The fact is, I have a client who hired me because she couldn’t figure it out. See, its not “easier” for a business.

  • Ned Old Timer

    I’m a bit of visionary in technology – I purchased an unknown product called Oracle in the early 1980′s attended a seminar full of dBase and BASIC programmers who argued against this product. Look at Oracle now I adopted Apple technology (when it was uncool) for desktop and movie production in the early 1990′s and adopted Adobe PDF technology when most businesses where trying to reinvent desktop publishing with Word. I can tell you that Having looked at Joomula, Droopal and others I was bored to tears just how messy a system of open source jibberish, the tight integration of Adobe Business Catalyst together with Adobes evolving ‘MUSE’ app is the way of the future. Having seen how the young IT guys these days have been brought up in. Microsoft world I feel sorry for them. Any projects they develop are always convoluted and cost a fortune and most take years to get of the ground. Business Catalyst is like a breath of fresh air.

    Mark my words over the next 5 years Business Catalyst will overtake many tools to be a standard at the expense of these open source apps.

    • Matthew Knighton

      I must say this is quite funny when you know that Adobe BC is built on microsoft technology – ASP.NET.

      But, that being said it is a great tool and with partners like http://responsivebc.com coming on board we also see the potential for a better product with more templates and robust hosting than any of the open source self hosted options could possible provide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/whooyeah Wayne Thompson

    If your doing anything more than basic sites business catalyst is very annoying.

    If your a tiny operator that doesn’t want to deal with setting up hosting and email campaigns its great.

  • Lalit

    You don;t know what you are talking about. What software you think is best ? Then We will will let you know why that software sucks

  • Stefa

    I agree with both “BC sucks” and “BC is great” opinions. I’ve been working on BC platform for over 2 years now and faced a lot of limitation mainly in eCommerce sector and I cursed it a lot LOL. However that doesn’t necessarily mean that BC is totally useless. It’s still great not just because it’s easy to develop but also easy for our clients to manage, you gotta admit that. Now I know BC system well and I always make check list upon initial client meeting and make decision whether I use BC or not. It’s just simple as that. Take it if you need it and don’t if you don’t :D

  • Peter

    Hi guys, its 2013 now and its time to update this discussion. First, I will point out, that we are a small agency doing print and web and have nothing to do with Adobe.
    We are using BC since a few month and just finished a huge project with it and my conclusion so far: this system is fantastic! Its very easy to use and once you get the workflow you can realize almost everything with it. Greatest benefit is the total controll over every bit of your content. Each part of dynamic data can be styled exactly the way we want. We worked with Joomla so far, and that really is for amateur hobbyists who take a template and fill in the content of their local sportsclub. If you are a professional webdesigner and typography, design, color and grids are important, use BC! And by the way, if you are professional, your customers are of a kind not to bother about the price because if a website matters it should not be a problem to pay the price of an evening in a restaurant for it.
    By the way, all the constraints mentioned above and below are solved and gone. BC is completely renewed. Use it.

  • YourMom

    Old article, but Adobe BC is kicking ass these days. Anyone looking for a solution should use BC. It has everything you need.

    • Kookoo

      Indeed, it’s time to update this article. The Adobe Business Catalyst doesn’t suck. It SUCKS!!!

      The Adobe BC is easily the worst platform I’ve used as a client.

      I don’t care for all the developers in the world praising it. The bottom line is that as a client I find BC to be the least intuitive, the most complicated, the most inflexible, the most expensive platform out there. Almost every blimming thing I need to change has to be done via our developer, because content management is an absolute pain to do yourself. Of course developers are going to praise it – they are making a ton through after-sale support. God, I can’t wait for the day that we migrate our content off this thing. Unfortunately, it won’t be coming too soon since we’ve only built our website about a year ago.

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  • PrintFits – Deanna

    You should update your post

  • Web Dev

    Nice whinning :D

  • Asad Ali

    Hmmmm having come to use BC around 18 months ago and coming on board for the company I work for now in the UK, I had no previous developer, web design skills, I understood basic HTML from when I was at uni 10 years ago and that was it! I was hired to grow the business not to build websites, this then turned into delivery so here is my story.

    What BC provides as a platform for small/medium/large business is frankly not available on any open source CMS without a load of hacking and mashing together of disparate tools.

    We have business in our portfolio that have turnovers of 500k to 15 million that use BC and there hasnt been a single thing I havent been able to deliver on at the request of the customer.

    One client spent 8K on a website so they could utilise it for their business, they struggled with the CMS so much they didnt bother. We replicated the site in BC and in the words of the marketing director, “I have added more content to this website in the past two days then i did in the last 8 months to the old one”.

    The webapps are a fantastic feature and the ability to customise them to how I want or the client wants, all you need is a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. Most of which can be found on the net. Like i said I have a basic understanding.

    I have delivered secure areas for people to login to view the status of their printers to customers sending in booking requests for a conference centre.

    With a lot of help from the BC forums and community I have gone from sales person to website integrator, I am far off a developer!

    So all the people who are bashing BC, dont tell me for 95% of the things the majority of your clients would require you cant do it on BC, this is either your lack of understanding of the BC platform or your plain ignorance to a system that would empower a businss owner or in house marketing manager.

    I have gone up against companies that have pushed Joomla, WP, Drupal and We have won the majority of deals with BC. There isnt anything out there that even comes close to it.

    • grvi vrse

      A nice perspective here; thank you very much for sharing.

  • Min Park

    Of course BC totally sucks and is a piece of rubbish when you only talk about downside of it, but is BC only eCommerce + CMS system out there has some downsides ?


    You never address positive side of the BC.

    I’m sure no one would disagree that BC is by far the fastest platform to work with as well as the most comprehensive platform for clients to work on afterwards and the list goes on …

    I’ve worked on various eCommerce platforms and I agree BC lacks a lot of basic ( or somewhat common sense) but it’s still on the top of my list when I get a new project.

    If the project doesn’t suit BC, I move onto something else. There’s no point of whinning about something still has a lot of goodies.

    Consider changing title of this post to ” 11 Things BC lacks ” and that would make more sense.

  • Akaliza Keza Gara

    I’ve been using it recently at the request of a client who prefers the system and I must say that I haven’t enjoyed the experience… but as you pointed out, it is a very different experience for developers and business people. I think for them it might feel more intuitive – I suppose it was designed for them and not for us.

  • Fleur Elise

    I HATE BC, it makes my work day 1000 times more complicated than it needs to be.

  • Andrew

    I’m amazed you could only come up with 11. Keep trying.

  • Eamonn Conlin

    I am not a developer but a front end designer so we will obviously see BC differently. You are right is pointing out some of it’s limitations. I agree with you that it is a bit clunky and restrictive. And not being open source may eventually prove to be it’s demise.

    On the other hand, it free’s up a front end designer to create websites without the backend hassles and costs, or employing a secondary partner.

    It’s not the best but it makes my life easy, my clients happy and my children can wear shoes. I think you are being too hard. BC is not bad for what Adobe says it is.

  • John

    It should be 11 reasons why this post sucks. This has nothing to do with the end-user experience.

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  • Don Hesh

    Me: can I include Google author plugin?
    Answer by BC support staff : No

    Me: Is BC has any flexible design for mobile?
    Answer by BC support staff : No

    Me; Why BC not supporting to schema.org, for SEO?
    Answer by BC support staff : We use frames, so Google spiders don’t read inside frames. It’s a problem with Google.

    Guyzzz. after I seen “It’s a problem with Google”. I give up. Using WordPress now.

    People comment below favour to BC, can be one of these.

    01. Staff working for BC

    02. Have No idea about SEO.

    Sorry, I forget to mention about email marketing system. It SUCKS SUCKS

    • Liam Dilley

      Hi there.
      Can you get your site to show google author on search results with BC? – yes Easy to apply on any site and not BC specific:

      It is easy to setup and there should never be a need to ask BC support for this.

      Flexiable for Mobile?
      Of course it is, CSS media queries are a web thing not a BC thing so responsive – Yes. BC has mobile template and tag support to. I would be surprised if a BC support member told you this. Live chat and tickets are saved, could you show them saying this?

      Problem with google ranking?
      Bad developer and designers … What ever they use – Yes, good one, no problem at all.

      Can you prove you had a support staff say all this?

    • Lynda Spangler

      It sounds like more of not knowing the system than anything. Liam already covered a few areas.

      Schema.org works just fine. I use it on many of my BC sites without an issue. Also my websites do not use frames.

      The email marketing system doesn’t have a slick WISIWYG editor like other dedicated systems but it works just fine.

      There is a common myth that you will have better SEO with WordPress (or other CMS system) or BC sucks for SEO. SEO is really a few simple areas: 1) Accessibility, 2) Usability 3) Semantic Markup and 4) Quality Content. While that is an oversimplification almost all areas (if not all) of SEO fall into one of those four categories. With Business Catalyst I have control over all four and have seen good results with BC and SEO.

      Also 1) I don’t work for BC. 2) I do know SEO.

  • Conciente

    You sound so resentful with Adobe BC, it´s clear that you haven´t explored it very deeply, I have been using it for years now integrated with Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge Animate and the results are amazing, if you don’t want to spend money on your business then don’t think of Adobe, you’re not even close to get the most of their applications.

  • twf

    I’m not a web developer. I’m simply someone who wants to upload my Dreamweaver site to one of the five sites that are part of my Adobe Cloud subscription. I can’t seem to make it work!! It keeps downloading a web template instead of uploading my files to the site. HELP, ANYONE KNOW HOW TO MAKE THIS WORK? thank you so much in advance!

    • Lynda Spangler

      You should ask for help on the Adobe Forums and/or Adobe Support. Your problem is simply a lack of understanding the system. I use all five of my CC sites without issue.

  • Liam Dilley

    I thought it may be good to revisit these comments:

    1. Interface – Has been re-done completely since this comment and recently open platform.

    2. This was never accurate, Like with other systems it used default output for people who may not know full CSS and HTML. But for most of the output you could. Since then more tags and modules has more customisability and there is big things happening soon to make this a non issue completely.
    But this was always a matter of the author not knowing what was available over what the system actually could do.

    3. Admin UI, Again something that is mentioned more then once so not really 11 reasons – see 1.

    4. See 1 and 3. It was never a valid reason to say the system sucked, it was an issue but not really a valid author point.

    5. This is a valid point and has always been an issue.. Role on Liquid.

    6. Price could be talked about for a long time and compared to many things cheap and similar which are MORE expensive. Add up wordpress plus hosting, payment certificates, using mailchimp and so on and your not far off the pricing of BC which has the dedicated support and data centre management etc.

    7. At time of writing this was never true, its grown since then of course. IT was not and is not perfect though where the SOAP is a bit hard to use but the REST stuff is good and more REST is coming and Web app API’s for apps and soon open API for web apps..

    8. You never needed a title, this was lack of knowlede by the author, first and last name has always been able to be combined as well. Name and email are key for a CRM so that is why forms try and enforce that to have a useable CRM, I have always considered this important for an ONLINE BUSINESS and not just a website that has no structure to the data it stores.
    In saying that you only need email now if you want to just have email.

    9. It never has been good but SEO has always been user related not the editors thing. IT is though XHTML compliant so semantically wise it has been find and was always paragraph oriented. The author did not use it enough or used it incorrectly.

    10. Open Platform.
    But the whole issue over SAAS vs open source is a lot more then this. There are a lot of positives and negatives to both. It is just down how do you want to run your agency or web business and factor everything to form a decision on what systems and software you use.

    11. NEVER AND NOT TRUE. Like past comments, the author never looked at the platform properly

    The lack of template themes was jus the author not looking, and since then there are loads and loads.

  • Danny

    I’m not that much professional in coding (have some experience though). Just trying to build a business site. BC attracted me and I’ve started to work. Spent some time till realized – no image resizing is possible in shopping cart, no back color change! Is it possible to change size and back color in catalogs
    appearance there?

  • Lorraine Williams

    You should try building your templates in Muse. It is the most advanced WYSIWYG editor I have ever used, and you can convert your pages into templates with one line of code: {tag_pagecontent}

    • Liam Dilley

      A developer would not be using Muse.

  • Dave

    I don’t want to get naked with you… It’s bear with me, not bare with me!

  • Greg

    This is a pretty old post and with the fast paced nature of the web I’d be interested in knowing whether these points are still relevant

    • http://www.ubhape2.com/ Lynda

      I happen to come across this post in Google again and re-read it to see what it said and I happen to see your comment. Most, if not all, of these points are no longer valid. Lots has changed with BC over the past couple years.

  • Martyn A Ford

    All of this is very amusing but what is not amusing is when I have an IT support customer calling me because he cannot access his email, or that he cannot see email from 2 months ago when its setup with IMAP. Personally I keep all my webpages on a Unix web server as 75% of the rest of the world does. Good luck and don’t get burnt by the Adobe Cold Fusion Reactor …lol

  • glupy

    I’m just an ordinary user with a pretty simple site with ONE product. http://www.greenbells.com – please buy a pair – and BC is the MOST frustrating web thing I have ever encountered. Try generating UPS labels to ship your product. Ha. Try feeding orders and names into your CRM? Ha ha. It’s OK for emails. But all kinds of flaws. Update a web form, and it wont update on the page. You have to kill the old one and put in a new form. Try writing some copy for your site and daring to insert an image or god forbid – a PDF. Ha ha ha. No flexibility with fonts.

    Try tiered pricing. Or special offers. Fuggedabout it. Only one discount code per item. Not to mention that it’s just plain ugly once your designer is finished with the main pages.

    It’s basically designed to ensure that ordinary users have to pay a developer to do everything.

    Oh, did I mention the webstore. My first designer couldn’t figure out how to make it work. (He couldn’t figure out a lot of things) The second one saw the problem immediately, got rid of the extra “obligatory” pop-ups and extra buttons and non-dynamic pages (try clicking Add to Cart and see what happens). But I had to pay him $250 to reprogram Business Catalyst in HTML. C’mon guys.

    Bottom line this is a not at all or possibly never ready for prime time disaster. Try something else unless you want a rigid format, a 90′s esthetic and full time programmer on your staff.