Many people who are new to website design look to What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors to allow them to create a website with minimal knowledge of HTML and other coding languages. While there are some advantages to using these editors, there are also a number of drawbacks. Some of the most popular of these web design tools, such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Publisher, leave a lot to be desired. This does not mean that they cannot be valuable tools (there are plenty of great WYSIWYG editors), especially for a web design novice. However, it is important that people are aware of the limitations of these programs.
Benefits of WYSIWYG Editors
There are a number of skilled website designers who started with WYSIWYG editors to get a feel for web design before moving on to manual coding. These editors are generally very user friendly, and they allow people who are not familiar with HTML, XML or PHP to create their own websites. For the most part these editors are point and click, and they enable people to create web layouts, image galleries, and share their favorite links.
What You See Isn’t What You Get
One of the common issues that people run into when they start using WYSIWYG editors is that what they publish often does not end up looking like what they designed. Due to alignment and coding issues, images and text can often end up uneven or in random places. Additionally, there are slight differences in the way that major browsers deal with coding and layouts, meaning that what looks fine in Internet Explorer may look terrible in Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. For someone who does not know how coding works, attempting to resolve these issues can be very frustrating, especially when their saved project looks correct in the editor they are using.
Another major issue that people frequently run into when using these editors is that these programs can create coding problems in a number of ways. As mentioned, ensuring a website shows up appropriately on a number of browsers and screen sizes is often beyond a WYSIWYG editor’s abilities. Further, if people want to employ additional code on their website, it often ends up being edited by the program and results in garbage being displayed. Things like counters, web analytics programs and other common scripts do not work well with WYSIWYG editors. Sometimes even manually adjusting coding in the editor is not able to resolve these issues. If your WYSIWYG editor is presenting you with coding issues, try some of the coding tips and tricks.
While creating a personal website with a WYSIWYG editor is perfectly fine, it is a major issue for small business owners who believe that they can use them to create professional websites. It is much better to a hire a small business website design team. One of the most important parts of having a successful website is driving traffic to it, which hinges on search engine optimization (SEO). WYSIWYG editors provide little opportunity to take advantage of coding based SEO tactics, and that can be a huge detriment to a website.
Additionally, these web editors are not able to handle creating online storefronts, forums or message boards, which are often key parts of a successful business website. Between these and coding and display issues, people who visit a business website designed with a WYSIWYG editor are likely to be turned off by the unprofessional design and structure of the site.