The CMS Guide: 6 problems to overcome in your rich text editor
Published March 30th, 2022
Content Management Systems (CMSs) have come a long way since the early days of web editing. From the humble pages of neon text, to brightly colored backgrounds and website visitor counters, end users have continually demanded better, more intuitive editing experiences.
Sr. Director of Marketing at Tiny
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Increasing user demands plus escalating competition are curtailing your ability to differentiate and meet the demands… without making some compromises. Even the stalwart traditional CMSs and web content management tools are facing disruption from Headless CMSs and homegrown solutions. More and more people are demanding innovative, lightweight solutions that deliver all the same functionality as those clunky, bloated ones of old.
A snapshot of the competitive landscape according to G2 on Web Content Managers, CMS tools and Headless CMSs
But regardless of where you sit within the CMS spectrum, from heavy hitter, to hand-crafted or new and nimble, the quest for a brilliant rich text editor (RTE) within the CMS – an RTE that’s quality, scalable and user-orientated – continues to be the elusive white whale.
Did you know?
TinyMCE first became known and popular within the CMS community, thanks to it being the default editor in Wordpress (open source version of TinyMCE 4). Since then, it’s helped to create over 40% of the world's websites.
How does a CMS rich text editor differ from other rich text editing?
Generally, the hunt for the right CMS rich text editor leads to people picking an off-the-shelf version of one of the popular editors on the market. There’s only an intrepid few who dare dip their toes into a custom-made solution – especially when they understand the enormous cost and resources it takes to build a RTE to the standard the market (and their users) demand. Does that matter? Surely, all rich text editors are the same? Do you really need something custom for your CMS? Yes. No. Yes.
The ideal rich text editor within a CMS is so much more than a basic bunch of formats like bold, italic or underline. But, it also isn't quite as advanced as word-processors (Google Docs or MSWord). It sits in between, in an often poorly defined realm..
When interacting with your CMS editor, users expect to find the creature comforts that a word processor contains, but without the extraneous functions they don’t need – such as pagination, page numbers, rulers and the like. They need a more refined, paired back solution that allows them to control the layout without the pesky additional features that only serve to distract and take away from the overall user experience.
So, what are the core problems CMS creators face in a modern rich text editing world?
The 6 core problems a CMS editor needs to overcome
The three keys to adoption, activation and usage are:
- Familiar interfaces
- Familiar processes
- Familiar methods.
That’s particularly true when creating a CMS. Often, your end users who’re regularly working within the CMS aren’t engineers and they don’t have the ability to go in, create and edit code. Your users are looking for familiar interfaces and features they can just pick-up, and instantly get started.
Before using TinyMCE, MorningBrew used to take hours to train a new writer how to use and update their CMS. Since implementing TinyMCE, it only takes 20-minutes. Not to mention the dozens of hours saved every week by their writers using a familiar interface.
Generally speaking, most writers, editors, and users are more comfortable and familiar with an editing experience that’s similar to that of the traditional word processors (MSWord and Google Docs). But not all rich text editing components on the market provide a familiar experience.
Some only have the most basic of features – they don’t even support the proper formatting of tables or lists. Unfortunately others haven’t focused on the mobile UI of their editor, thereby limiting your CMS to only a desktop experience.
As the rich text editor that’s been partnered with the largest CMSs in the world (not to mention the up and coming players), we know what it takes to make a CMS editor that works. We’ve created a CMS-specific configuration of TinyMCE 6, that anyone can use to help kick-start their editing journey.
Compliant HTML and SEO boosts
This may not be a large problem if you’re planning on just serving an internal application, but the moment you release something to the wider world – compliant HTML is an absolute must. Just ask any engineer who’s had to go into the backend of a CMS and fix the spaghetti!
Unraveling that spaghetti quickly becomes a costly, person-heavy undertaking when something goes wrong with the content. Often engineers need to decipher the HTML, and manually fix the broken content when the WYSIWYG isn’t quite WYG. However with compliant HTML, plus a Code Editor, they have the ability to clearly read, understand, and edit code – all must-haves for any great CMS editor.
What else? Compliant code means your developers only need to spend minutes, not hours, trying to understand what output the rich text editor is producing. Plus, it's a quick fix when your Marketing department wants to do a custom insert that needs to be done via a code view.
What's the relevance of all this talk about SEO, and compliant HTML? Afterall, isn’t SEO mainly about the quality of the content written? While that’s certainly true, there’s indications that Google’s algorithm also cares about the quality of the code. Google likes websites that are accessible to all types of visitors and devices – which is why semantic HTML is your key to success.
Did you know?
Only TinyMCE gives you the ability, out-of-the-box, to go up to 6 layers deep in content structures, with H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6. Most other open source options only have 2 layers, or none at all.
Semantic HTML may be something you’re willing to drop when it comes to selecting an editor – after all, most editors don’t provide it so perhaps it's not that important. But if you’re planning for your CMS to be positioned in the quality and performance sectors of the CMS market, then quality HTML is likely something you can't do without.
Styling, copying, and creating content
Often product creators like to imagine the entire workflow – from start to finish – is seamlessly done within our application. But unfortunately users like to thwart our attempts to make them follow a clearly marked path. That’s why your CMS needs to adapt and flex with the way your users are creating and sharing their content.
This article was written in a word processor, shared around and edited in the same word processor, before being sent to a designer who created this layout… long before it even touched our CMS.
Many CMSs try to perfectly recreate the editing experience, but may skip the actual journey users are undergoing when using the project. By not considering this within their processes, CMSs can be inundated with a cascade of tickets surrounding broken code when copying content into the editor.
The ability to solve this complex problem is something very few editors on the market are able to tackle. And, only one has the engineering team who are so expert they have global recognition for doing it right.
Since implementing PowerPaste functionality, RGP has seen their support tickets drop by over 10% within their CMS.
Our expert rich text editor creators constantly monitor the updates and releases of word processors – and test to see if API and outputs have changed – and are regularly updating our PowerPaste functionality.
Images and embedding rich content
Again, this may not be a problem if you don’t ever intend to allow images or embeds directly into your CMS. If that's the case you can skip this section altogether.
But increasingly most CMSs require more advanced (not less) support for images and embedding than what their rich text editor is capable of providing – afterall the trend for content is placing a bigger emphasis on interaction and connectivity.
Did you know?
Only TinyMCE allows for in-depth image editing directly within the editor itself. All other rich text editors only allow basic editing, or none at all.
Generally when it comes to using a CMS, most creators start and end at inserting an image, and only do the most basic of editing such as Alt Tags, cropping and the like. But if it were easier to do more things within your rich text editor, wouldn't your users enjoy the opportunities something a little more advanced offers them with their content production?
For most CMSs the answer is yes. There’s more creative, and more advanced imagery and media being used than ever before – across all areas and forms of content. While in many cases, creators use outside tools to design and perfect their work, once they enter the CMS they may still need some minor touch-ups to ensure a more integrated content look.
At this point, an average rich text editor lets you down, because sadly the CMS creators often haven’t thought about how CMSs need to function and support their users throughout their workflow and production journey.
This shortfall in ‘an average’ rich text editor is compounded when you look at embedding rich media. Users want to be able to pick up a link and paste it directly into their content. They don’t want to figure out the code, or talk to a developer to help them insert the code to get a rich media preview – it needs to be simple, with no- to low-code involvement.
The world of content is leveling up, and users expect their CMS to do likewise. Enriched media embeds are not something a simple editor can do out-of-the-box – only an advanced editor like TinyMCE creates experiences beyond the usual basic word processing functions.
Template based editing
This next problem isn’t necessarily a problem. Instead, it’s a new feature that the more modern and innovative CMS are implementing within their feature-set. What is it? Template based editing is the ability to pull from the editor menu and drop in text, content, or even code that can be replicated time and time again (rinse-and-repeat).
CMS users want fast, replicable processes to help them get through content creation quicker, using easier methods. Which is where the ability to use templating within your CMS really shines.
The ability to insert predefined content is something most people would skip over, but it becomes a serious timesaver and quality of life improvement that users appreciate (and miss when they don’t have it) in a CMS.
Particularly heavy CMS users are generally looking for more advanced functionality – that traditionally requires developers to code or insert items into the CMS content. Having templated formats for automated newsletter embed forms, call to action sign-ups, legal terms and conditions, as well as disclaimers all save time. By utilizing and allowing for templated approaches within your CMS, it can open up a whole new realm of possibility for your users.
Template-based editing is considered a core feature in TinyMCE and it’s available directly within our open source core!
Internationalization and spell checking
The final problem a lot of CMSs encounter in today’s world is the ability to properly internationalize and customize the spell checker for their editor. Most CMS builders rely on their users being happy with the standard in-browser spell checking functionality, and trust that it suffices. But, don’t users want more?
Rich text editors that are designed to truly support CMS use-cases have advanced spell checking that facilitates accurate internationalization, as well as allowing users to manage and maintain custom dictionaries. Then they can be certain their company name is auto-corrected and always spelt right, with the correct capitalization. You’ll be able to lock in brand standards and style guidelines as well as more truly support your customers’ content creation needs.
How many times have you written content and the inbuilt spell checker hasn’t caught all the spelling errors until after you’ve hit publish?
Manually adding custom dictionaries can be time consuming, which is why an advanced rich text editor like TinyMCE, regularly updates and maintains a list of libraries on your behalf. Most editors aren’t able to provide this sort of advanced support for users, which could end up impacting your CMS experience.
The final (but good for you) issue with spell checking, is when your CMS inevitably gains popularity. At that point, it’s embraced by non-English speaking countries (or you may decide to start in a non-English speaking country with your CMS). There’s very few editors on the market that support their UI in multiple, professionally translated languages, and even fewer provide the functionality for their spell checking solution to simultaneously support multiple languages in the same document.
The CMS world is changing
Creating a CMS in a modern world is not as simple as it used to be. It’s no longer a case of CMSs having to be stuck with just basic editing functionality – instead they can embrace the CMS editor that’s been crafted to support their exact needs.
Looking to get a CMS editor for yourself?
We’ve created a special configuration for CMS users to get started in minutes with TinyMCE. Try it out for yourself and see if it fits with what your CMS needs to deliver to your users