Using a WYSIWYG Solution to Design Websites

In this message let’s address the use of WYSIWYG solutions for building websites. First, WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get. These are types of applications or programs where users can drag-and-drop elements onto a page to build their website. They are popular on several sites and providers such as Godaddy, Webflow, CoffeCup, Wix, and SquareSpace. I used to use WYSIWYGs to build websites but that was back in the day when I first got started. Now that I fully understand the concepts of design, engagement, and User Experience, I do not use them.

wysiwyg_whiteNow, they are great for people trying to “get started” in designing and creating websites. For a small business owner or a fledgling web designer, it is a cost-effective way to get started. Go for it, use it. But here is where you can get into trouble. If you have a business and you are counting on your website to attract visitors, keep visitor and have them convert from visitors to customers, then WYSIWYGs are not the way to go.

For a business owner, it is truly best to engage a qualified and talented web-designer to create for you a first-class, engaging website that will attract visitors and then convert them into customers. For the web-designers just starting out, WYSIWYGs are good to save you time, especially for clients that have limited or small budgets and are limited on time-to-market for their website marketing solution. But my advise and concern here is that as you develop as a designer, my hope is that you build your skill-set as a designer and move away from WYSIWYGs for designing sites.

For designers, one area of expertise that you should spend some time mastering is using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. The back-office of these allow users to create content and user tools to help present and maintain that content. For a designer that has some proficiency in HTML and CSS, these CMS solutions are great. You can use your skills as a designer and modify the HTML and CSS code to customize the look and feel (the user experience and the branding) of the website for your customers.

So, designers, do not limit your full potential by relying on WYSIWYGs. These are tools, and a best practice is to use tools to build things. So, do not use a tool as the end-all thing. Many have started their web-design careers using WYSIWYGs and quickly have became unmarketable because their websites (their products) were not engaging, not compelling, or not creative. Just because the WYSIWIG “got the job done” does not mean it produced an effective product.

For designers looking to gain access to corporate clients or contract with the corporate world, then WYSIWYG is not going to cut it. You are going to need to have some basic design skills. As an example, I am not proficient in Java or JavaScript, I have become very proficient in HTML, CSS and PHP in terms of coding. These basic skills have helped me move to the next level. And you can do the same. You don’t have to know everything. Just know what you know very well and do what you do very well.

So, use a WYSIWYG if you must, it is effective before beginning and getting the basics. However, it you want to launch yourself to a new level of expertise and income and opportunities, then move past the WYSIWYGs and learn a couple of coding languages. HTML and CSS are a must. Start with them and then decide if you need to expand.