Adobe has a new way for not-so-web-savvy designers to create websites. While they have not decided on a permanent name, for now it goes by the codename Muse. They just unveiled the beta last week and already it is getting lots of internet buzz. The question code-phobic designers seem to be asking is, “Is this the tool that will finally let me design websites?”
We’ll get to that, but first some background. Muse is in beta until early 2012 when it will be rolled out as a subscription-based service. Why subscription, and not as software you can buy along with the Creative Suite bundle? “Traditionally Adobe builds up a collection of new features over 12, 18 or 24 months, then makes those changes available as a major upgrade.” according to Adobe. “It is anticipated that new updates of Muse will be released much more frequently, probably quarterly. New features will be made available when they’re ready, not held to be part of an annual or biannual major upgrade.” So in other words, it won’t be ready to be released as software… yet. It is currently a free service, but after its release, a subscription to the service will cost $180 per year, or $20 per month.
WYSIWYG editors are nothing new, but Adobe Muse has some pretty interesting distinctions. Dreamweaver’s interface was always a little daunting for inexperienced web designers. But the interface for Muse is much closer to that of Photoshop or InDesign, making it simple for print designers to transition into web design without having to learn code. In fact, you won’t have to deal with code at all using Muse. It is purely visual, and all the coding goes on behind the scenes. You simply design your pages as you would in Photoshop, add widgets such as lightbox galleries, dynamic menus and slideshows. Another cool feature shows you what fonts are web-safe, and which that it will end up converting to images, complete with alt-text. Adobe also claims that the code Muse generates in search engine friendly code, and even allows users to customize keywords and alt-text for images. Adobe does however, acknowledge that Muse has its limitations, specifically stating that at least for now, it is mostly to be used to building largely static websites. The muse.adobe.com FAQ page states, “today Muse is a great tool for creating websites with high quality visual design and no CMS integration. That will likely change as we add CMS integration and explore enabling creation of websites for mobile and tablets.Just like in the early days of Desktop Publishing when PageMaker could only create a small subset of all the possible typeset publications in the world, Muse today can only create a subset of all the possible websites. However, for website in that subset, it’s a far more efficient tool than hand coding.”
So while Adobe Muse may be a great way for novice web designers to get their feet wet, and design some simple, yet visually compelling sites, it won’t be very useful for the big-budget dynamic sites that pay the bills. Watch the video below to see Muse in action.
Will you use Muse? Share your thoughts or experience using it!