Thoughts on Adobe Muse and Web Design

adobe muse in web design
Adobe / Wikimedia / Public Domain Mark 1.0
Adobe Muse Has an Important Role in the Future of Web Design
Why Adobe Muse is the Future

If you are professional Web Designer who has hand coded over 50+ websites, you probably won’t be impressed with, or recommend Adobe Muse. Ultimately this is because Adobe Muse was not developed with you in mind. I know this because I learned HTML by coding notepad 15 years ago, and I understand: what MUSE is, who it was meant for, what it can’t do, what it does well, and what Adobe intended it for, and whom. As a hand coder, and a print designer I still advocate and support the use of Adobe Muse.

Adobe Muse, much like its print counterpart Adobe InDesign was meant to address a particular group of people. Small Design Shops and Ad Agencies of any size. Adobe Muse answers an age-old question, “how to quickly build a website or web page that is consistent with the rest of a marketing campaign that is already established, and keep it low in turn around time and cost?”

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Who Adobe Muse Was Meant For:
  • Small Design Shops that take simple projects and sites under ten pages.
  • Ad Agencies and Design Boutiques that need the quick turn around keep small staffs and produce microsites, product pages, and landing pages.
  • Freelancers who deal in small businesses, advertising, microsites and landing pages that have little to no functionality, less than ten pages and prioritize “look and feel.”
  • PSD TO HTML Designers, Website Template Designers, Email Campaign Designers.
  • InHouse Designers who have to design and maintain a large amount of small websites 10-15 pages in size, and keep the consistent with changing visuals or very specific brand guidelines, or who work under Creative Directors with a Print or Typography Background.
  • Print Designers who have been tasked with also providing a corresponding web design.

Even the most experienced hand coder will have a problem turning around a well-designed website that is consistent in most browsers looks aesthetically perfect and uses all the fonts and branding conventions of the existing advertisement, and turn it around in only a day, or less than a few hours. Much less convert a PSD to and HTML equivalent in that time frame.

Adobe Muse was meant to solve this problem and furthermore allow nearly everyone to take the web into their hands and build a presence there, not just the “hand coding elite.”

Adobe MUSE Addresses the Time/Speed Agencies Need to Stay Profitable

Adobe Muse allows that someone with limited experience or no experience hand coding, that still understands the web and has a strong sense of design and can use Photoshop and/or InDesign, will be able to turn around an aesthetically pleasing, functional, feature rich site in between 3-5 Hours and be able to showcase it immediately for revisions and approval.

This is ideal the workflow of say an Ad Agency or Small Business, and if the billing model is hourly it will be cheaper, if not will still be cheaper because it means that less time was taken away from other projects or that a specialist didn’t have to get involved.

Smaller design shops and ad agencies that don’t have staff that specializes only in web design have a hard time handling website projects based on the turn around time. The nature of their business is that they do not usually do one project at a time, and the more time they spend on any one thing, the less time they are acquiring or delivering on more paying work.

They have to be able to move quickly. This is why content management systems like WordPress and Joomla are popular solutions among them. However, they fail to address another issue, consistency with the existing campaign or marketing materials.

Adobe MUSE Allows Designers to Focus on Design

As hand coder originally, and someone who has worked with them closely, I know for a FACT that their values and priorities are different from those of marketers and advertisers. The problem is that regarding a result the priorities of marketers, advertisers, and designers are more closely aligned with the client’s expectations.

Form USUALLY FOLLOWS Function, but for today’s user, as Apple has shown us, FORM IS FUNCTION sometimes, in the world of Advertising this couldn’t be truer. Adobe Muse allows the web designer to focus on typesetting, layout, margins, spacing and layering much in the same way they would when designing a print advertisement in Adobe InDesign.

The expectation of most clients in this world is an interactive component that complements their billboards and prints ads and translates across desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. They are not concerned with semantic markup, they want it to look appropriate in all conditions and match the advertising, and for any special functionality or lead generation/lead capturing aspects of working as intended. That is the extent of their requirements.

From a cost perspective, agencies will not have to divide the resources and time of their staff. Hand coders can be used for more involved projects that require PHP, ASP or Custom CMS Development or actual programming. Whereas Graphic Designers and Production Artist can at least make functional prototypes if not outrightly design the entire site for smaller projects like landing pages and microsites. That is the value of Adobe Muse. It also does not prohibit SEO, or even modifying the code in Adobe Dreamweaver later.

Responsive Design and Custom Mobile Experiences

Responsive Web Design is a top priority now for several reasons. Adobe Muse allows that to be addressed visually in a very straightforward way. However, it also addresses one of the failings of a traditional responsive approach: you can tailor the experience of the site to be different yet appropriate to the device rather than just scaling down or repositioning or restyling the elements. You present image galleries in a way that makes sense for that device or eliminate information that wouldn’t be relevant or a priority for someone using a handset for example.

This process would take considerable effort, time and planning if being done via hand coding, whereas with Adobe Muse the entire process takes mere minutes from thought to execution, not mention the time saved in being able to see the results immediately before having to commit to them fully.

What Adobe Muse Is Not:
  • And End All, Be All Solution to Web Design
  • A Content Management System
  • A Substitute for Good Design Principles and Understanding of Web Standards
  • A Way to Become a Talented Web Designer
  • A Solution for Large and Complex Websites.
Conclusions:

Adobe Muse will and has changed the landscape of design. It’s leveled the playing field originally only reserved for those who dared to learn the ins and outs HTML and CSS and their rules, which frankly many cannot do in a timely fashion.

Adobe Muse is no substitute for understanding web design standards, terminology or hand coding for that fact. Adobe Muse is a great solution and time saver for creating simple web presences necessary to achieve marketing, media, and information based objectives.

Muse like any other Adobe product is a great tool, a smart tool, that has its proper place and time in a designer’s workflow, and deserves a lot more respect that it’s been given, it just hasn’t been viewed in the proper context. Most of this can be attributed to some elitism within the web design and web development community, and the fact that many web designers view print as a dead medium and don’t have a proper respect for the mindset and values of print design

(I’m speaking from experience as this was my view in 2002 when in college I proclaimed newspaper advertising would be dead or dying within a decade and that we should be learning more about web design).

Adobe Muse is part of a trend I see Adobe pushing forward with; make things more accessible and inclusive within the industry and grow the solutions available for creative problem solving.

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Norman Anthony Balberan

Anything out of the ordinary (?) Utopian dream, crashed and merged with unstable consequences causing mayhem...

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