How can I see my content?
Many people are used to using what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) tools such as Microsoft Word to create content. How does it all work when you're structuring your content effectively so you can reuse it in many places with many different looks? How can you take advantage of semantic labels to build your pages? How can you see what your content will look like? Find out in the next steps.
Table of contents
Viewing structured content
Managing your content as a service can bring many benefits. With a single content hub, you can collaborate in one place on a unified digital experience and then publish across various channels.
But one of the main reasons you can get these benefits is that you keep your presentation instructions separate from the content itself. This helps tremendously with being able to reuse the content in different places and contexts. But then how can you know that your content will look good in the end?
To find out, you need to understand why people use WYSIWYG tools and why they might move away from them.
Benefits of WYSIWYG
WYSIWYG editors and page builders are almost everywhere. People are used to working directly with content and its presentation at once. Why has it become so popular?
People are very visual creatures – we learn and understand by seeing. So it makes sense that we want to see our content in its visual context. Having your content inside a WYSIWYG tool also means it's easy to make quick edits. If I see something small that needs to change, I can quickly fix that bit within my tool.
Having a WYSIWYG page builder also means marketers can design their own pages. Rather than waiting for a developer to get a specific layout, they can move things around on their own and show off their creativity. So, why wouldn't you use it all the time?
Drawbacks of WYSIWYG
Although WYSIWYG tools have clear use cases, they also create problems in other situations. For example, if all your content is separated into different contexts, it's very difficult to make sure it's all consistent with a single strategy. It also takes much more work to make general changes to style and branding.
And when content experts are presented with so many options for design, they may get overwhelmed. Since nothing is already defined, they have to control everything. Rather than focusing on the content, they waste their time with all the design possibilities.
Having your content tied up in its visual representation also means you can't really use the content itself in other places, within a single website or elsewhere.
What should you do for other channels?
WYSIWYG tools can be great for a single website, but when you outgrow that (with additional websites, mobile apps, chatbots, etc.) you need to think about how your content will work in different contexts.
You want your content to work everywhere, not just in a single visual space. To display your content everywhere, it needs to have clear metadata about what it is, rather than visual data about how it's seen. Text from WYSIWYG tools often has too much formatting – lots of visual effects without what the effects should mean.
Your good writers are distracted by visual and style issues and not devoting their time to think about what it all should mean.
How can you make it easier to focus on meaning?
Visual vs. semantic
Having the meaning of your content tied to its visuals is fine when you have only one way of presenting, but it is less future-proof. Any change to visuals will change the meaning. Instead of communicating your messages visually, try to focus on semantics – what it should mean.
For example, text in bold could mean different things. But if you tag the text as important, then it's clear what you're trying to say. When you see text in different colors, you might think it's just about visual styling. If you tag it as serious or playful, others will know what emotion you want to convey.
When you have text in a sidebar, it could be used for an aside (something less important) or to highlight something (more important). Adding semantics will let others know what you intended.
Reviewing content someone else created in a WYSIWYG tool can be difficult because you don't see what they meant, only how it all looks. Ideally, you want to have separate reviews for separate ideas – content and presentation.
Once you have added universal semantics (instead of context-specific visuals) to particular pieces of content, you can use these pieces to build larger structures (pages, layouts, etc.).
With all of the semantics, can you still build layouts yourself?
Building pages & layouts
You saw before that one of the benefits of WYSIWYG tools is the ability to design custom pages, but you can achieve that even with semantic content.
For one, when you're creating content you often compose even simple things from smaller pieces. For example, your article might have product info, a testimonial, and a CTA.
With semantically labelled content, you can reuse exactly what you want where you want it. You know which pieces are for large layouts and which for smaller contexts.
In Kentico Kontent, you can use linked items and components to build pages and layouts. Developers can define which types can be used, and marketers can add what they like to build a page without breaking anything.
Now you might wonder, "Can I preview it before publishing?"
Preview and edit
Even when you create your content separate from its visual context, you still want to make sure your visual presentation is correct. You can do this even with your content in Kentico Kontent – separate from its visual presentation.
If you want to see how your content looks before publishing it, you can preview a specific view right from Kentico Kontent.
Then you can be sure your content looks right and has a clear meaning to be ready for any context.
You've seen that WYSIWYG tools have their uses, but reusing content from them is hard. To get your content to multiple channels (whether many websites or even different technologies), you need to make sure your content has semantic meaning.
You can still put pieces together to build a visual story with complete creative freedom. And then you can preview it all before you release it to the world.