Some history, we are a small development company, and we build websites and apps for marketing agencies who don't have the skills in house. We might start three new projects a week.
I have wanted us to use svn for some time, but I just can't get my head around how it would benefit us. I understand it can control versions, but we have never needed to control versions of sites. As an example of a project, we might have to build a site with a cms, so we create a copy of a previous site and the apply the new HTML and add any features. Once the site is done and made live, we might never touch it again.
Something else I don't like is it seems cumbersome, each time we start a new project you would have to ssh into the server, create a new repository, and then edit a file to setup users and the config to allow access to the repository via http.
Currently we are using dropbox, and store all working copies of project in there where we can all access the files and work on them knowing they are up to date, and we FTP files up onto the server when we are ready.
Am I just completely missing the point of svn, or is it just not suitable for us?
Subversion is appropriate in a multi-developer environment with an OOP framework. It may be overkill for small sites.
Where you will probably find the most value is maintenance.
On the occasions you do need edit, or develop the site/cms further, you'll be able to deploy with the click of a button. Compare that to spending an hour ftp'ing dozens (or even 100s) of files manually into different directories, etc.
For kind of relatively small projects you're describing svn does sound a bit overkill. It really comes in handy with larger projects, or when multiple people need to access the same files all the time.
SVN is starting to get a bit outdated, if you want versioning you may want to look at more modern systems like git and mercurial instead.