The Dark Side of WYSIWYG

If you aren’t familiar with the term, “WYSIWYG,” it is an acronym for “What You See Is What You Get.” Off-the-shelf WYSIWYG tools such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Google Docs, or other HTML-based authoring tools, such as Articulate Storyline & 360 or Adobe Captivate, remain popular choices for organizations who are trying to get content out the door.
But there is a dark side to these tools that organizations often overlook.

WYSIWYG tools waste time

Since WYSIWYG tools couple the content and presentation layer, content teams write simultaneously while also editing the how the content looks (heading colors, font sizes, paragraph spacing, table shading and more). Organizations often overlook these mundane task and view this coupled approach as a time saver, but in fact, it actually slows down the content development process.

Content authors find themselves spending all of their time lining up bullets, changing spacing, manipulating images and editing styling over and over again for each deliverable. This is a tremendous waste of time that could be better spent on creating compelling content and effective interactions.

“In our experience, content authors spend about 60% of their time on layout and formatting & only 40% of their time actually creating content.”

- Leslie Farinella, Chief Strategy Officer

WYSIWYG tools cause a maintenance nightmare

Content changes are inevitable, and should be expected. Whether a new feature is added to a product, an image has become out of date, a request comes in for content to be translated into a different language, or an existing content piece needs to be adapted to a new deliverable or format — more often than not, what was intended to be “one-and-done” is never really done.

The initial intent of getting new content out the door quickly all too often escalates into a maintenance nightmare. Existing content needs to be updated, and new content derivatives are created to meet new needs (audiences, languages, etc.), both of which require a significant level of effort to manage and maintain over time. We like to call this the Content Explosion problem.

WYSIWYG tools limit flexibility

Because this is the way it has always been done, leaders rarely see it as a problem that needs to be solved. 

But it is a problem. 

Continuing to rely exclusively on WYSIWYG tools for content production not only wastes time, but also raises development costs, since every iteration essentially needs to be created from scratch, and nothing can be reused effectively across formats.

When content can be reused easily, organizations can save a tremendous amount of time and money while also leveraging their content across a wide variety of both print and digital experiences, formats, and use cases.  

"Modular content is the root of our adaptability for rapid & agile distribution — it’s huge for our business — and centralized management of branding for our outputs has been a game changer."
Cisco Stealthwatch
It's time to leave the dark side. WYSIWYG tools do have their place, but should be thought of as add-ons to an organization’s content management tool box — not the foundation.

As organizations implement more and more automation, from chat bots to AR, and grow to serve larger and more diverse audiences, it is essential that they have a flexible and centralized content management strategy and technology ecosystem in place in order to ensure long-term success, sustainability and efficiency at scale. 

A Component Content Management System (CCMS) provides a solid, scalable foundation, allowing organizations create and maintain flexible and agile content, even when serving global audiences. A CCMS separates content from the presentation layer, empowering organizations to easily reuse and repurpose content in a variety of formats and output types without manually redesigning or starting from scratch. 

Linking to source content, not copying and pasting, significantly reduces maintenance time and costs, while driving greater accuracy and consistency across the organization, which is extremely difficult to achieve with WYSIWYG tools.

Ready to learn more?  
Schedule a free consultation with one of our content strategy experts today.

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