Is WordPress Losing its UI WYSIWYG Advantage to Webs and Weebly?

Over the past 3-5 years one of the key selling point for WordPress has been the ability to say to clients that editing Pages and Post is WYSIWYG easy to do. The selling line has been “if you can edit an email or Microsoft Word document, you can easily create and edit WordPress Pages and Posts“. Generally, I steer users away from the Text tab in the the WordPress Editor unless they are comfortable with HTML and/or CSS.  I also generally add the TinyMCE Advanced Plugin for the WordPress Visual Editor but configure it with editing commands a)that do not use shortcodes and b) that the client is comfortable with.

But the rapid proliferation of new Themes with features which use shorthand codes for sliders, columns, accordions, iframes, sliders, and all sorts of advanced  editing capabilities have placed me in a quandary.  If customers demand these features, how do I disguise the shorthand code. It is impossible. So  WP Visual  Editor sessions begin to look like this:
wpuibad
Some savvy users have no problems with this but many of my users are not enthused for two reasons – 1)they just do not like to preview because they “get lost” and 2)the time to wait for the system to preview and then get back into the editor interrupts their work flow. Given this problem I have been searching for a Theme or Plugin that enhances the Visual Editor without imposing shortcodes. But such powerful Themes as Headway, PageLines and Ultimatum among others are either only for advanced users or/and use lots of shortcodes. Diito for Visual Editor plugins. But two online Web Builders, Webs SiteBuilder and Weebly WebBuilder, do offer powerful drag and drop editing  with no shortcodes but rather constant WYSIWYG visual display of ongoing edits.

Weebly and Webs Do Better in Maintaining WYSIWYG Visual Editing

Webs and Weebly are online free Website Builders. Okay, you can build free basic websites and then have to pay for advanced features or larger websites with heavier traffic or your own chosen domain name. Although Weebly and Webs do not match all the layout and editing features of plugin-powered WordPress, they both have managed to deliver Visual Editors without the need of shortcodes . Here  is the Weebly Visual Editor:
weeditor
Weebly Editor delivering 2 column partial layout.

As you can see from the screenshot, the Weebly editor delivers a number of  edit features yet maintains a WYSIWYG Visual editor image of what a Page or Post will look like. Many of the commands for forms, gallery, slideshow, Flash, embedded documents and many other have a popup wizard to guide the user to place and create the element properly. Every element that is added can be easily edited or deleted. And the response time of the Visual Editor is uniformly good.

Webs Visual Editor

websedits
Just like  Weebly, the Webs Visual editor offers a host of features that maintain a WYSIWYG look and feel throughout Webs SiteBuilder. Again, like Weebly many of the more complex features like Galleries, Slideshows, Videos and many others require a popup wizard where the user fills in the blanks  to define the layout and design of the element. Again, users can easily edit/modify any  feature they have added to their page or delete it outright.

Webs Editor maintains a property bar across the top of the page that changes with the object or feature your are creating/editing. This is quite helpful in customizing in ways that go beyond WordPress. For example,  the choice of fonts and easy changing of the size of a font is deafult behavior in Webs but requires AdvancedTinyMCE  plugin for WordPress.  Webs matches many of the Weebly features but also has a range of their own and third party features/apps which allow extending Webs into eCommerce, surveys, and other general computing tasks.

Summary

As can be seen here WordPress, and Blogger too, now have serious competition for their Blog and website building tools. Both Webs and Weebly have expanded their feature sets rapidly in the past year. But even more important, they have made their WYSWYG editors easy to use and faithful to what the final website will look like. This puts WordPress and Blogger in a defensive position because they simply do not offer the same drag and drop ease of editing plus the range of default features with the same level of  fidelity in the editing process as Webs and Weebly. The Net Result – its game on in the “nearly free” online  Website Development Field.