WYSIWYG Overload

by on November 29, 2007

I had the privilege of presenting alongside Danny Young at the Gilbane CMS show here in Boston this week. Danny is the Manager of e-Business Development for ESAB Holdings.

One nugget from his talk was a recommendation on how to increase end user adoption on CMS implementations. We've all seen the embedded WYSIWYG editors grow in size and features over the years as vendors look to provide more and more functionality. These tools can have dozens of options each with their own icon.

His advice? Start by turning OFF all the options. Then, selectively turn them back on based on what your end users actually need. Providing less options makes it easier on your content editors, reduces training time and helps preserve the design integrity of your site. Great idea Danny.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Doug D December 7, 2007 at 7:53 pm

Sound advice. Keep it simple. So why do editors come with some many buttons?

The engineers at Ektron have discussed which buttons should display by default on the editor’s toolbar. We consciously decided to make most features visible. Why? Two main reasons. (1) It looks good on the marketing material. A prospective customer can quickly glance at the colorful toolbar and sense its capabilities. (2) If a feature isn’t visible by default, it may remain unknown and unused. It is easier to turn off a known feature than it is enable a feature you don’t even know exists.

Administrators, we’ll show you all the buttons, but feel free to hide the ones your content contributors don’t need.

-Doug, WYSIWYG editor developer

2 Jeff Cram December 12, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Thanks Doug – Great thoughts from the vendor side. As one of the pioneers of such tools, it’s great to hear from Ektron and see the built in flexibility to turn things off as needed. Take note administrators. You have the power.

3 Rick Cabral January 30, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Absolutely correct. I favor CMS systems that give me elemental control of every data point for every "page" of the site so that I can determine the barest minimum of rights I need to give the page editor.

This results in a slightly higher learning curve on the first day, but once the editor understands that the CMS is providing them with a simple checklist that will produce an outstanding document, they appreciate their limited choices.

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