Freestyle Interactive

How does content suffer from WYSIWYG?

Written by: Freestyle Interactive

Over the years I’ve uploaded a lot of content through CMS systems.  One thing that every system has had in common is the fact that the inline editor – the WYSIWYG editor – has been so frustrating.  These seven letter bundles of joy have, at times, been a real hindrance. WYSIWYG?  Not always, my friend.

So why is this?  Surely that’s the whole point of the name?

Yes.  It certainly sounds that way from the cute (and difficult to type) acronym.  But the humble WYSIWYG editor is beset with problems.  Firstly, they aren’t perfect.  Inputting content into a CMS can be rather like a game of Chinese Whispers (can I say that these days?): what you say isn’t necessarily what the editor thinks it’s heard, but it passes the message on – in this case implements the styling – to the best of its knowledge…but you and the editor don’t always speak the same language, and what you want is lost in translation.

Secondly, what you’re trying to do might be something the editor’s not allowed to do.  The site has been designed and built to work as a whole, lovely unit, and your attempts to change your paragraph to Comic Sans (take a look at what Rachel Andrew has to say) might just be something your WYSIWYG cannot allow.  And rightly so…you should go back and check your style guide.  No style guide?

WYSIWYG - not a content writer

Thirdly…and most importantly…your WYSIWYG is not a content writer.  It can’t string a sentence together.  It has no idea about SEO or the difference between writing for print and writing for web.  If you asked it which of two sentences sounded better it wouldn’t have a clue, it would just stare blinking at you like an owl.  Remember that maddening ‘Fragment (consider revising)’ statement in Word?  Have you ever actually gone back and revised that fragment?  No, because you said what you wanted to say, and you know that having a perfect document free from red and green squigglies doesn’t mean you have good content, right?

So how do you make sure you’re uploading good content into your CMS?

My advice to all you content writers out there is that if your WYSIWYG is getting in the way of what you’re trying to say, write your content in a plain text editor first.  With no styling considerations it’s easier to focus on the quality of what you are writing…and trust me, quality does matter.

You can then upload it into the CMS and let the web design take care of the style, safe in the knowledge that the designers have done their job well, and you’ve done yours.

And you’re still having trouble, talk to us…perhaps we can help.

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