Writing is really hard … Everyone uses fancy things like “Scrivener” or “Microsoft Word.” The next time I need 85 fonts and 172 formatting options to write, I will let you know.
— James Altucher
James Altucher’s quote about needing “85 fonts and 172 formatting options to write” is funny. Moreso, it is a relevant observation of how bloated and outdated “traditional” content editors have become.
Traditional editors overloaded with features are nearing their end.
What will take the place of these progenitors of WYSIWYG is as yet anyone’s guess, but looking at general trends in UX, there is a strong indication that the industry is moving towards products designed to make writing easier. In the context of text editors, we see changes in two key areas:
- Contextualization and minimalism
- The emergence of smart buttons.
Contextualization & Minimalism
The race towards minimalism is on in the text editing market. More than just a style fad, the purpose behind contextualization and minimalist design is to remove obstacles from the content creation process – as an author, the best tool for the job is one that presents the least obstacles during the writing process. As an example, using a traditional style editor (example at below left) provides the author with a lot of button options, which in turn increases their cognitive load each time they wish to apply an action. The more streamlined UX presents only the right buttons at the right time. You will have seen some of these changes in the InLite Theme released in TinyMCE last year.
In general UX design, there is a trend towards creating applications that anticipate user behavior. Many of these apps use technology that leverage machine learning, cognitive computing, and extraction of user behavior patterns from big data. At Ephox we are exploring how these technologies can be used to make content creation easier for authors. We have tested several prototypes that bring the power of tone analysis inside our text editing products: imagine being able to gauge at a glance (see example below) the communication tone of your piece of writing is as you are writing it. Tone analysis is already available in Textbox.io and planned for TinyMCE within the year.
Read about the development of the tone analysis UX in more in the next blog post.