Why the Constant Contact WYSIWYG Campaign Builder is Terrible: A Compilation

I have seen many threads complaining about the terrible builder experience, often without specific details on the issues the user happens to be facing. Each time this happens, the CC team replies asking what, specifically, isn't working for the user. In almost any other SAAS product, I would consider this response fair, but in the case of CC, the builder is so abysmal that I doubt most users even know where to start, and I wonder whether CC even uses their own software at all, because I have yet to see the experience improve by an inch. Here's what CC needs to understand; at least for me, making email comms is a small part of my responsibilities. I have so many other things to do, that even when I encounter a bug, I just press on and work around it, because the task at hand just needs to get done as quickly as possible. Here's the takeaway from that: when a user goes through the trouble to report a bug, contact cx service, or complain, it's because the issues have come to a head. So, here we are. Here is a (far from comprehensive) list of the issues I face every week, three times a week, when trying to build a simple campaign.

 

Note: I have GIFs recorded for many of these, but I'm not sure whether posting images of a WIP newsletter would get me fired, so I'm not posting them. CC team - Happy to share privately.

 

1. Performance

The CC interface is borderline unusable on normal, office-grade hardware. Before I got a serious upgrade on my company issued laptop for video work, I used a perfectly serviceable, new Lenovo ThinkPad, with decent enough specs for office work. When using the CC builder, however, my machine would absolutely chug, fans going like jet engines. UI elements would disappear as I dragged them, the page would scroll at what felt like 1 FPS, and a single newsletter could take me literal HOURS. This was not a beefy PC, but it ran the entire Adobe CC suite just fine. It should not take a video editing workstation to make a newsletter. Stop it.

 

2. The color bug

Sometimes, for no discernible reason at all, changing the color of one item will change the color of another one somewhere else on the page. As an example, changing the text color of a title somewhere might change the background color of a text block elsewhere. There is no rhyme or reason to this; it just happens sometimes. Sometimes, random color changes even seem to happen when a campaign looks fine, is saved and re-opened, or worse, sent.

 

3. The line-height bug

When an image is added to a text block, and the line-height of the text block is changed, the image will (often, but not always) disappear.

 

4. Intrusive formatting pop-up placement

Ever try and edit a text block near the top of the viewport? I sure hope you don't need to SEE IT.

 

5. The image placement bug

Sometimes, when you place an image placeholder into the campaign and double click on it, the media picker modal doesn't open, so you can't add an image. This can *sometimes* be circumvented by dragging an image from your pc onto the placeholder, and then double clicking to change the image. Sometimes. My campaigns are newsletters about the membership of the org I work for. Each and every text block contains at least one image, usually of the member. These are all saved in the media library, but 99% of the time, double clicking on the placeholder doesn't allow me to select an image. To save time, I literally have a folder full of pictures of kittens, SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS ISSUE, that I can drag and drop onto the image placeholders. This inevitably leads to the CC media library, and its limited space, being filled with duplicate images of kittens. There are hundreds at this point. Why not just use the final image, you ask? Well, as I mentioned, I work for a membership org. We have over 500 members, and finding pictures can be difficult using windows explorer. This is why we have them all organized in the CC media library. Shame it doesn't work.

 

6. The alt text bug

Ever add alt text to a media library item in CC? Wouldn't it be nice to know whether that alt text was still attached to the library item for the next time you need to use it? Too bad; the alt text field will be empty every time you view the image.

 

7. The image editor bug

Sometimes, when clicking edit, the image editor doesn't appear at all. When it does, sometimes when you click "export," it just does nothing. The editor disappears, and none of your changes were made. Love that.

 

8. The campaign preview bug

Need to look at a past campaign to copy event data or something? Have fun. The images don't load at all. (This is a new one; exciting!)

 

9. No ability to work in bulk.

As I mentioned, I build newsletters, not short marketing pieces for drip campaigns. As a result, the campaigns I build have dozens of the same groups of components: Title, main copy, member headshot, and a link. Want to group these for easy duplication? Ok cool, but you now lose the ability to put more than one image side by side if you need to do that.  Want to change the color of multiple items at once? Move a group of articles at the same time? Select and delete more than a single, solitary element at one time? Ha, nice one.

 

10. The drag and drop sucks

What's the single most important feature of a modern WYSIWYG editor? You guessed it, the ability to drag and drop items. You know, the ability that makes even not so tech literate users feel like they have a chance at putting something together that kind of, almost, maybe feels like a professional did it. Yea, the drag and drop function in CC is beyond abysmal. There are two ways to do it:

  1. Hover over an element and click and hold the multi-directional arrow icon
  2. The way everyone is going to do it: click somewhere on the element, drag and drop.

Number two is the one that sucks. I don't have the time to spell out the shortcomings of this feature; truly, they are profound. If anyone over at CC is scratching their heads at this one, they have never used the feature in a campaign taller than their viewport. Try it, all of you. I want every single employee at CC to try and organize a newsletter twice the height of their viewport by dragging and dropping this way. Here's an idea: every time an element lands somewhere you don't want it to, take a shot!

 

Anyway, that's all I can think of right now. I'm sure there are more annoyances that I routinely use cumbersome workarounds for. If I were in a corner-office with a view at CC, this is what I'd do: I'd scrap whatever hellish, Ramos -Gin-Fizz-esque, teetering stack of frameworks comprises the builder, and I'd start again, fresh, with plain old vanilla javascript (or at least a compiling library like svelte), that is nice and fast, and where fixing bugs doesn't require devs to wade into a cesspit of endless dependencies. You could even use web components, they don't need a framework at all! Then, I'd test the hell out of it. I'd test it on windows, mac, linux, android, ios, firefox, safari, chrome, edge... I'd even test it on opera. My experience with CC has really reached a head. Not only have I been actively researching other options, I literally started building an email generator with Jekyll (that unfortunately went down with the ship on a dead hard drive) so that I can just write my newsletters in markdown and copy and paste the generated HTML. It's that bad. Anyway, my org will probably be long done with this platform by the time anything gets better at CC, but I just had to get this out there in the hopes that someones experience with the product, some day, doesn't impede their ability to do literally anything else in an entire workday besides make a newsletter.

 

Peace.

5 Comments
Vanwilgen
Member

Yes, yes, yes to all of the above. As someone who use to hand code email content, I can honestly say I can whip up an email faster by hand than I can while using the WYSIWYG editor. It's the little annoying bugs that just tack on so much time.

 

I'm just going to also add in a huge complaint about session longevity. 

I start working on something, click over to my email for just a minute to grab a bit of copy or an image to use and by the time I tab back over to CC I'm greeted with. "Hi there! While you were gone, we may have ended your session for security. If you're done, great. Otherwise, click below. (You might have to log back in.)"

 

I click on "yep, I'm still working" which has never once just allowed me to continue working. I always have to log back in. Every. Single. Time.

Allow me to check a box that says "hey, my workstation is secure" and let me stay logged in forever. Honestly, regardless of this "security" measure, anyone using my machine could log in because I use Google's password manager (because I'm on a secure machine), and it auto-populates my credentials. The only thing that logging me out does is make me lose my focus and makes me annoyed. 

 

 

Frankie_P
Moderator
Status changed to: Open Questions

Hi @ThatOneOrg 

 

Thank you for sharing your feedback on the experiences you’re having! We apologize you’re unable to create your emails as easily as you should. Many of the defects you have mentioned are experiences we’ve seen other users have due to browser related issues. In fact you mentioned working in windows explorer, what version are you working in? Do you have any of these same experiences when working in a different browser or even a private/incognito window? Testing your account is a great way to see if these defects are actually being caused by third-party browser add-ons. However for your color experience, are you seeing these color changes in text that you have typed into a brand new text block or with text copied and pasted from an outside source? As for your ability to drag and drop blocks, what exactly are you experiencing when you try? Having any further details is helpful information for us to track with our Product Team.

Frankie_P
Moderator

Hi @Vanwilgen thanks for sharing your feedback on this experience as well. Do you too still experience these bugs when working in a different browser or a private/incognito window? As for the "Are you still working" pop-up, the good news is we are currently collecting feedback on this experience. We ask that you please share any feedback you have on this messaging and its current timing directly on its feedback thread. The more requests an idea receives the higher of a priority it can be given.

ThatOneOrg
Frequent Participant

Hi there Frankie_P:

  1. Windows explorer is not a browser. I use Firefox.
  2. It isn't my job, as a user, to test different browsers or experiment with my (very modest and pretty typical) list of extensions. If the product doesn't work in a major browser like Firefox, it doesn't work. When I build websites, if an update causes issues on a major browser, it doesn't hit production, and I truly feel that this is the absolute bare minimum my clients can expect from me.
  3. I don't know. Again, as a user of a paid, closed-source, commercial product, I shouldn't have to be trying to duplicate bugs I encounter.
  4. On drag and drop, the window either scrolls very slowly, or shoots up or down when trying to place an object.

There should be a team attempting to replicate these issues and fix them. Serving as Constant Contact's QC is not what my organization pays for every month. Happy to send GIFs of some of these issues privately.

Vanwilgen
Member

Hi Frankie_P:

"Do you too still experience these bugs when working in a different browser or a private/incognito window?"

I've used (current) versions of chrome, firefox safari, mac, windows. All have produced various bugs.  I'm also going to parrot what the user above me has stated. It should be on CC to do product testing in different environments.  If we're not intended to use a specific browser or environment, you guys need to convey that to your customers. I manage a site under a department of one, and I don't launch a site change without testing it first. How many staff members does CC have? Anyone can do testing...just saying. Or consider offering cash incentives for comprehensive bug reports. Lots of places do that.

 

As for the feedback thread regarding timeouts, I left a comment there back in July that went unanswered. And hey, I get that you guys can't get to every single thing that folks complain about on here, but if something is a fundamental issue, maybe it shouldn't be a popularity contest to get it fixed. Maybe pick the feature requests that would fix a glaring bug or make your customers' lives easier. 

 

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