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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.

14 Comments
rcppubs23
Marketing Legend

Amazing that Constant Contact allowed you to mention . Usually they censor out the names of competitors, without even inserting any kind of indication that they did so.

 

is moving in a similar direction to control the code so it will "play nicely" with mobile renderings. They do still allow editing html code, but only on a block-by-block basis, so for instance you can't control the space between the different block elements. A nice thing they offer, which Constant Contact really should introduce, is a "code-your-own block so you can drop a special element you code yourself into an email without necessarily coding the whole email. Useful if you have a template that basically works but you have an unusual thing you want to do in one section of it.

 

Overall, it seems to me we have to assess what are the "can't do without" features and then determine which program has what you need. Easier said than done. Someone should start a page that compares all that (not just the general features, but more particular things like "allows you to put a caption with a photo" or "allows you to set margins in a text block" or "allows the use of blockquote"--you get my drift). That would be a great resource but it would probably be really time consuming to keep it up to date. Def would have to be crowd sourced.

Kyle_R
Administrator
Status changed to: New
 
Frankie_P
Moderator

Hi everyone, because we have since made updates to our editor we wanted to follow up on this post. A lot of great and valid points are made here. I'll address a few of them:

  • Alt text is still present in the email even though it is not visible in the editor. If users want the alt text to always be visible, we recommend entering it in the Description field under the Library.
  • Having the ability to select multiple blocks to move or copy together is not an available feature, however users can copy each block individually or even drag each block into one large block, and then move or copy that block. Separate it afterward if necessary.

 

We also want to be transparent and say that for most of these requests that don't have additional information to share or a feature request linked below, there are no current plans to implement them in the editor. For the sake of proper tracking, we're requesting to have you or anyone else comment or kudo (thumbs up) on the following threads:

Interacting with these posts allows for better tracking and escalating to the proper teams. With all that said, we are going to close this idea. This doesn't mean that we aren't listening to your feedback! Please feel free to comment or vote on any of the other open ideas to let us know what you would like to see. Users can also reach out to our Get Help board if they are experiencing any defects.

Frankie_P
Moderator
Status changed to: Closed - No Action
 
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