How WYSIWYG Authoring Limits Your Content’s Lifespan

David Dye
David Dye

Senior Account Executive

As a Senior Account Executive here at Xyleme, I get asked this question all the time: Is your tool WYSIWIG?
If you aren’t familiar with the term, “WYSIWYG,” it is an acronym for “What You See Is What You Get.” These so-called rapid authoring tools claim to save us time, but do they really? Over the long term, the answer is decidedly, “no.”

When creating content in a WYSIWYG editor, authors edit the words and the layout in a way that resembles its appearance in the finished product or output. When a new project is initiated, authors start again from scratch creating their content in a free-form layout. WYSIWYG editors have become so commonplace, that most authors don’t question this process and become complacent with creating things over and over.

In fact, lots of organizations look for a WYSIWYG platform or a WYSIWYG authoring tool to solve content challenges, but those can only take you so far. As employees and customers expect content to be personalized, it becomes essential that organizations have the ability to seamlessly deliver a variety of user experiences to keep up with those demands.

This is a key area where WYSIWYG falls short. 

What You See is All You’ll Ever Get

With WYSIWYG authoring tools like PowerPoint and Articulate Storyline, when you lay content out on the page, what you see is all you get — and all you’ll ever get. WYSIWYG tools trap your content in one configuration and format that can’t be reused or repurposed without copying and pasting, and building a new content piece essentially from scratch.


Take screen size as an example of how WYSIWYG limits your content.We all use different devices throughout the day — bouncing from a 40-inch desktop monitor all the way down to a three-inch iPhone screen and back again. To keep up with this modern experience, your content needs to adapt automatically for all those different screen sizes. Out of the gate, content developed in a WYSIWYG tool isn’t flexible. It remains stuck in the format it was created in, which impedes your ability to make your content re-usable and extensible.

WYSIWYG Authoring: There Has to Be a Better Way 

One of the biggest complaints we hear from authors who use traditional WYSIWYG tools has to do with all the time they waste on formatting and reformatting with on-page layouts — lining up bullets, changing font sizes, updating copyright statements, etc.

Many authors say they take an inordinate amount of time getting content to look just right in a Word document. When they have to reuse that same content in a different layout, such as a webpage, e-learning course, or PowerPoint, they have to reformat the content all over again.

In those cases, not only does WYSIWYG limit your content, it also takes up time that could be better spent elsewhere. 

Xyleme Helps Organizations Reduce Content Development Time by at Least 30% & Content Maintenance Time by 40% or More

Focus on What You Mean, Not What You See

With Xyleme’s platform, instead of “what you see is what you get,” you can create “what you see is what you mean” content.

Xyleme provides authors the ability to focus on creating content components independent from the final presentation. Building in a structured authoring environment, content components can then be configured and reused across any design or layout with responsive, built-in publishing templates, from a PowerPoint presentation, to a digital course, micro-learning asset, PDF job-aid, etc.

Xyleme empowers authors to focus on creating compelling content instead of spending countless hours adjusting spacing, aligning bullet points, and reformatting each individual deliverable.

If you’re creating a step-by-step procedure, for example, only the procedure steps themselves need to be created. Because the content is created independently from the presentation layer, that same step-by-step procedure can then be reused as part of a job-aid, included in a comprehensive lab guide, or added to a PowerPoint slide.


This “what you see is what you mean” approach provides significant value and measurable content management ROI for organizations, as teams no longer have to author these things three different times in three different systems to produce those three different outputs. Not only does it save time on content creation, it also dramatically reduces content maintenance time. 

Instead of having to update and maintain each piece of content in each individual deliverable where it is used, Xyleme allows content teams to link content components — not copy and paste them — so the source content can be updated once and those updates can then seamlessly be pushed to each location where the update needs to be made. Instead of days or even weeks spent searching for each location and deliverable where a piece of content is used, content teams can now update multiple versions of the same content in mere moments. 

As we all know, content requirements can often change, evolve and expand. What was originally intended to be in a PowerPoint may also be needed as a micro-learning asset. With Xyleme, content creators can author content in individual, structured components, and the publishing templates take care of what the output will look like. By breaking free from WYSIWYG and creating content without the constraints of a particular layout, content becomes flexible and can easily be reused in other relevant deliverables across the enterprise.

With Xyleme, teams get to focus on what really matters — the content that your users need to do their jobs.
Contact us to learn more about leaving WYSIWYG behind with Xyleme.

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