Online Startup Makes Website Editing Simple

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This story appears in the September 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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What It Is
Barley is a website-management program that allows entrepreneurs to undertake on-screen editing of their sites almost as easily as making changes to a Word doc. Users need only click on a Barley icon on their site, highlight text or photos to be changed, enter the fixes, and they're done.

"We wanted to make it simple for any kind of business that has no knowledge of coding or web development to roll out and edit their own site as quickly as possible," says Jeff Johns, co-founder of Plain, the Carbondale, Pa.-based company that created the system.

How It Started
When Johns joined forces with Colin Devroe and Kyle Ruane in January to launch Plain, their goal was to ease the pain of running a small-business website. "One guy told us he needed to make some important changes to his website, but his developer was out of town," Devroe says. "He tried to go in and do it himself, but it took him hours. People say to us that making website changes needs to be as easy as changing your Facebook status."

Why It Took Off
Barley launched in beta in May. Early adopters include churches, a wood-stove shop and a pizzeria that uses the platform to change menu information daily. And while Plain's target audience was the DIY small-business owner, the company is seeing most of its growth from website developers who can apply their own HTML, CSS and JavaScript files to a Barley-powered site.

That might be Barley's most elegant attribute, according to Mark Koberlein, founder of Parker West, an interactive product-development studio in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. "I can develop a site for someone with my own template and hand it over to a client to manage with Barley and trust that they'll be able to make nearly all of the changes on their own," he says.

The Business Case
Users pay $18 per month for the service, which includes website hosting as long as a site doesn't exceed 350,000 page views per month. "We chose this number because we knew it'd be more than enough for 90 percent of the sites," Devroe says. "If a site goes viral and gets 1 million page views for that month, we'll send them an e-mail congratulating them. If that trend continues, we'll be in touch to discuss a new fee."

What's Next
The Plain team is working to integrate Barley with social media platforms, which will make it easier for users to quickly add photos and videos to their sites via Instagram and YouTube or to link to their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Edition: July 2017

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