CMS platform provider SetSeed CMS thinks it offers a better alternative to WYSIWYG-based content management in its newest version. SetSeed 8 — with an all-new interface, improved mobile experience and new APIs — avoids problems caused by What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) CMSs, company representatives claim.

SetSeed 8 also includes several APIs that allow SetSeed CMS to be used as a website builder for the first time.

What SetSeed Does for CMS

CMSs that use WYSIWYG or “inline/edit in place” editors can be frustrating for users. As a SetSeed developer told, the editors are “prone to breaking the page layout when pasting in text from other applications.”

“They also place far too much emphasis on ‘design’ level control, which shouldn’t be part of the content management system,” SetSeed CMS developer and designer Ben Vallack said. “The result is that website owners create inconsistent or even broken pages by using font colors and sizes that aren’t part of the design style guide and creating layouts that aren’t consistent or created by the web designer.”

Tools typically require feature-limited versions for mobile compatibility, which results in a substandard experience on phones and tablets, Vallack added.

“In short, SetSeed improves life for both content editors and web designers by improving user experience and reducing the need for technical support,” Vallack said. “It also massively improves the development process for web designers thanks to its multi-site capability and full feature-set out of the box.”

SetSeed 8's new user interface includes a side-by-side live preview system, clarifies and builds on SetSeed's beyond-WYSIWYG approach and allows all dynamic content to be seen in context on the webpage.

web cms, Goodbye WYSIWYG for Web Content Management Systems?

Why This Product?

Asked by his product’s “wow factor,” Vallack said content editors experience a “beautiful, welcoming and simple interface” when they log in to the CMS.

“This really has to be experienced to be believed,” he said. “This is achieved with SetSeed because all areas of the powerful system are part of the core functionality and share a consistent and familiar user interface. Other CMSs rely on third party plugins for basic functionality. This results in the interface being built by multiple people all over the world, each with their own ideas, resulting in a fragmented and unintuitive experience."

WYSIWYG Rigidity talked about the changes with Seth Gottlieb, a 15-year veteran of the web content management industry and chief marketing technologist for Lionbridge Global Marketing Operations. He told us the industry's focus on WYSIWYG in the name of usability has made sites — and also how we think about them — too rigid for a multi-channel world.

“The general ‘knowledge worker’ user that CMS vendors have been trying to please expects a Microsoft Word-like editing experience,” said Gottlieb, author of a series on selecting a CMS. “But MS Word is about as far as you can get from multi-channel. You need a specific version of the software to view the content.”

The concept of presentation-neutral content, Gottlieb added, was one of the founding principles of web content management.

“The problem,” Gottlieb continued, “was that the alternate channels that would justify true content/layout separation were slow to materialize. Now they are undeniable.”

According to Gottlieb, businesses need three elements to be successful in multi-channel publishing:

“Professional content managers who can see beyond any one view of content, tools that can isolate the content management experience and support multiple views, and front end developers who can design and build the views that can maximize the impact in the supported channels.”

Separating Content from Presentation

Scott Liewehr, president and principal analyst at Digital Clarity Group, said capabilities such as WYSIWYG and in-line editing present all sorts of challenges to the age-old desire to separate content from presentation, which he called "an important strategy in an ever-increasingly dynamic, omni-channel world."

"However," Liewehr added, "they sell well and have become table stakes for all product sales demonstrations, so anti-WYSIWYG products tend to be more oriented toward purists and tech savvy users rather than business users who are making more and more of the technology decisions these days."