Is What You See Really What You Get (WYSIWYG)?


Welcome to Sounds Essential! It’s our very first post on our brand new website. If you’re reading this, you will one day be able to lord it over your friends, saying things like, “Well, yeah, you know them now, but I’ve been hip to the scene from day one.” (Okay, so maybe you won’t ever say that, but a website and its blog can dream, can’t they?) But enough fiffle-faffle. Let’s get down to business...

We're going to jump right in with both feet and discuss whether or not what you see is really what you get. That’s what all that nonsensical looking mess in the title of this post means. And believe it or not, it’s at the center of making one of the biggest decisions for your website. Namely, should your site be HTML-only or should it be built on a CMS (content management system)?

What’s the difference?
There are a ton of technical differences, but for most website owners or webmasters, it boils down to a simple question: Do you want to be able to change your website content yourself without advanced knowledge of programming languages? If the answer is yes, proceed to the next paragraph. If the answer is “I’m up to my neck in logistics, who has time for all that?” please jump ahead to the HTML section. (But maybe skim the CMS section first, because knowledge is power, right?)

CMS-Based Websites
A website built on a content management system (CMS) is exactly what it says it is: a website built with a back-end that allows website owners and website users to access and edit existing content or create new content at their own leisure.

There are dozens of available CMS platforms, with a variety of interfaces that require varying depths of knowledge about website construction and/or learning curves for mastering the system. Most give the ability to access and change factors contributing to the actual form of the website itself – page creation, navigational menu items, etc. This is sometimes more than what’s required by users for general website maintenance. All of them, though, include some semblance of “What You See Is What You Get,” or WYSIWYG. (In my head, I pronounce it wiss-e-wig whenever I come across it in text.)

WYSIWYG is any interface that allows the user to view content in a form that is identical or similar to what it looks like or will look like when it appears as published content on the website. Many are built on the conceit of word processing programs, so anyone who’s used Microsoft Word, for example, will find the structure and tools available through the WYSIWYG familiar. The below screenshot shows our own WYSIWYG interface (built on the Joomla! platform) as I created this blog entry.

Now, let’s be clear. Having some WYSIWYG functionality is not your all expenses-paid, first class ticket to Website Wonderland. The structure of your website and the CMS used to build it will have ingrained characteristics that pre-determine some factors of content creation. But if you just want to update your news section, add events to a calendar, write blog entries or front page articles without the headache of creating the content, then sending it to a third party who can code it into the website and charging you for the time to do so, a CMS with a WYSIWYG will save you both time and money in the long run.

HTML-Based Websites
We’ll make this easy for you. A website built only on HTML (or PHP or Jquery or Flash or…) doesn’t function that way. All content is hard coded into the website and adding new content or changing existing content requires a knowledge of the programming language used to build it. Short and sweet.

So why wouldn’t I want a CMS website?
I know, right? CMS is great. It’s glorious. It’s the way forward! Or is it? In website construction, as in business and… well… as in life, what works for one or some does not necessarily work for all. Depending on the purpose your website serves and the content you wish to place there, a CMS may just be more than you need. (Or so you think! But that’s another conversation and another blog entry.)

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding on a new website. We encourage you to be honest with yourself when answering. Nothing wastes time or money like taking on too much responsibility when it could have been avoided in the first place.

  • How much content do I have? Is it more or less than five (5) – seven (7) pages? Is it more than twenty (20)?
  • How often will that content need to change or be updated? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?
  • How drastic are those changes or updates? Do they vary by a few words, a few paragraphs, or are they regular overhauls of large chunks of new or refreshed content?
  • How proprietary is the content on your website?
  • Who will be responsible for maintaining your website and making changes? Are you a sole proprietor or two-person operation? Do you have someone in house or on staff whose primary job is dealing with the website? Can you afford to hire someone, if not?
  • How much time do you or your staff have to devote to website maintenance? (If you’re a sole proprietor or small business or a non-profit organization, the answer to this question is usually “not a lot,” if at all.)

The answers to these questions will help guide your decision-making process, and we can help interpret what those answers mean to you, your company, and your website. That is, after all, what we do. Consider us a completely personalized, top-of-the-line, totally human WYSIWYG.

Categories: On: Websites

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  • Sounds Essential is a trusted partner on several demanding and highly complex development projects. Their technical skills, creativity, and most importantly, their grasp of our business needs has helped our company deliver sophisticated solutions to our (very happy) clients. Even when projects reach the "intense" stage, we really enjoy working with Sounds Essential.

    Pam Henry, Managing Partner
    Digital Spark LLC
  • Sounds Essential worked with our staff last year to create the first digital plant database in our organization’s history. This milestone not only benefits the day to day work flow of our organization, it creates the opportunity for us to share our data with others worldwide. Due to our niche high elevation ecosystems, we can share valuable insight about native plant communities and how they are adapting to climate change. Without the help from SE and funding from Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust this project would still be in conception. Working with SE made the development and implementation a pleasure for us gardeners.

    Kelly Holdbrooks, Exec. Director
    Southern Highlands Reserve
  • Sounds Essential is the best! Our company website and database are essential parts of our business. The website and database give us the professional look of who we are while also making our work flow so much easier! We highly recommend Sounds Essential.

    Charles Dwan, Owner
    Chefs Trading
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    Wesley Wofford, Owner
    Wofford Sculpture Studio
  • Sounds Essential was a pleasure to work with from start to finish. With their guidance, we were able to update our website quickly and present a more polished and modern interface for our church. The documentation provided was clear and easy to follow, and they have been quick to respond to any questions.

    Kirsten Huscusson, Parish Administrator
    Church of the Incarnation
  • Between their exceptional level of service and versatility of skill, Sounds Essential is my first stop for anything from IT to creative... and they're my favorite partner, hands down.

    Leah G. Fallon, Owner
    Eleven Eleven Creative

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