Recently, I got an email from Adobe inviting me to the public beta to test it’s new Muse Beta. The basic idea of Muse is to allow its users the ability to design web pages without any coding. Many companies have tried to do this in the past with hit and miss success. Most of the previous software relied on templates and usually required knowledge of HTML and CSS. While this worked for some (Those who knew HTML/CSS), it didn’t work for the rest (Those who like design but not the coding part). This is where Muse comes in.
Very simple to use and looks very promising for those new to web design
Comparible to iWeb but with less templates.
Much easier than Dreamweaver for new designers
The plan view makes setting up a hierarchy very easy
Uses Adobe AIR. Some don’t like this.
Less control for advanced users.
Not useful if you are wanting a website but don’t know what you want.
Not appealing if you like to work with the HTML and CSS yourself.
The main views (I call them phases) of Muse are Planning, Design, Preview and Publish
When you first create a project, you dropped off on the Plan phase, an initial Tree View based screen that will allow you to create the full structure of your site by using little plus icons below and to the left and right of each node. This allows you to very quickly add and remove sections without ever having to create the pages or use a site layout program. If you already have an idea of what your sites hierarchy looks like, it will take you all of 20 seconds to create your tree. The nice thing about this is that the actual page creation is taken care of and you don’t have to worry about any of that.
Now that we have our hierarchy set up, lets do some design!
The design phase is the one that will take the longest depending on how much effort you want to put into your sites layout. The design view follows the typical “Master Page” setup and you just design one style and the rest of the site will follow that look. If you are already familiar with InDesign, Muse will be right up your alley. While i am not too familiar with iWeb, I understand that it comes with a lot of premade templates for use. Muse doesnt have (to my knowledge) any available. You will have to go it alone.
There is a floating toolbar with all of the typical Adobe items. One of the neat features added to this toolbox is the premade widgets. Currently it does not look like there aren’t too many but I think this will change eventually. You just drag and drop widgets, text
Just as you would expect, allows you to preview your work without having to open it in a browser.
The publish feature requires that you create a Business Catalyst account if you don’t already have one. You can sign up in the application itself and it takes only a few seconds. Once you create your account, Muse Publish will ask you about which site you want to publish too. Most likely you will not have one already and will just choose a New Trial Site.
Once you have agreed to their terms, choose a name for your site and click ok. It will then be uploaded to yoursitename.businesscatalyst.com to view and let others see.
Personally, I prefer to work with the HTML and CSS myself when I do website work so while the drag and drop design approach of this software is nice and makes things quicker, I probably won’t use it in any day to day website work. However, for the novice designer or business owner with an idea for a site, this software would be great for such a purpose. I also think it may be used by a lot of marketing people that have a good idea of what they want a site to look like but don’t know how to translate that into the developers terms.