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The Great (Adobe Muse Beta) Debate


17 Nov The Great (Adobe Muse Beta) Debate

Since Adobe recently announced the Beta release of Muse, there’s been a little turmoil at THAT Agency. Basically, our designers and developers have a running debate as to the value of this new Web publishing tool. As you’ll see, the two sides definitely aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the issue.

(If you’re not familiar with Muse, here’s a quick video made by Adobe’s design team which will bring you up-to-speed on Adobe’s vision)

Debate methodology: To facilitate this debate, I (the moderator) sent the same questionnaire to both our design team and our development team. Here are the results:

Q: Adobe’s Muse team surmised that, 5-10 years from now, they don’t think that anyone will be coding in order to design websites. Are they visionaries or lunatics?

Designers say: There will always be a need for developers in web development. However, this is a tremendous advancement for designers and I see developers moving away from smaller projects all together.

Developers say: “Web Pages” may not even exist in 10 years. In fact, you can already see the move toward dedicated applications in the mobile space. Someone always has to code the next new thing. Print designers are already outdated, but what happens when they are expected to design for applications instead? Good luck finding a job with that print portfolio.

The Mediator says: Err, developers are angry people! I like anything that makes it easier to get creative on the Web. I understand the need for developers, but also appreciate anything that makes it easier to share creativity on the Internet.

Q: Adobe says that future versions of Muse will have CMS integration capabilities. Would your answer to #1 change if that were the case? If so, how?

Designers say: No. The tools for the web and designers are constantly improving. Muse CMS will be an expected, but greatly appreciated leap forward for everyone.

Developers say: No, again, technologies that are “WYSIWYG” in nature never provide the flexibility that a professional solution requires. Drag-and-drop can only take you so far. Remember geocities?

The Mediator says: The developers have a point. While we’d like the product more if there were database capabilities, we’re just not sure that this is going to get done in time for it to really matter.

Q: The Muse product was created to begin to bridge the technological gap that previously prevented print designers from designing for the Web. In other words, Adobe created Muse to take away technical barriers which previously stifled creativity. Do you think this is true? If so, what impact do you think this new ‘talent’ will have on the Web and our industry? Will this introduction of new creative talent to the Web help improve the quality of website designs and content out there?

Designers say: Maybe, But I think designers who are interested have always found a way of getting their vision online. Muse just gives us designers an easier way in which to do it.

Developers say: In my experience, giving someone with no experience in Web design a tool with which to design is like giving a three-year-old a conductor’s baton and asking them to lead a symphony. They won’t know any better than they did without it. This “revolution” in design doesn’t create an innovative product. If you are reliant on Muse, you can never progress beyond the limitations inherent in the product.

The Mediator says: Geez, looks like designers and developers agree on this one. I actually disagree with both. I come across a number of ‘print designers’ who would probably make great Web designers given the right tools. Technology can be intimidating so I really hope this helps more designers get online. I agree with the developers that the applications will be limited, but at least the designs themselves won’t have to be!

Q: Is Muse a game-changer or just something to keep our eye on?

Designers say: It is definitely something to keep your eye on. I am very optimistic and impressed with what I have experienced already with the beta version.

Developers say: The future isn’t in creating a great web design. The future is in content and data. More and more, we are looking at content through “apps” or other developed programs. Muse? I’ll keep an eye on it; I’ll watch it burn to the ground.

The Mediator says: I’m on both sides for this one. I’m looking forward to removing creative barriers but also think that content is still King, and Adobe Muse isn’t the Ace that we’ve been looking for.

Comments? Leave your take in the comments below. It wouldn’t hurt to tell us what side of the fence (design or coder) you’re on, either.

  • rich
    Posted at 15:47h, 18 November

    A couple of things. First one, not all developers look like the drawing.

    now on to my real comment. Although Muse may seem to be this great asset for Designers, the role of a developer will always be integral. People said the same thing about WordPress. How it was suppose to change the way websites were done, yada yada yada, and how designers could easily use it to build sites, more yada yada yada. At the end of the day, developers are still being used to add more functionality to wordpress as well as develop these “easy” templates that wordpress uses. What people fail to realize is that when you create something that is intended to be useful for “people” there is someone always pushing the envelope to add more functionality out of the box. so the system begins to grow and the more it grows the more complex the integration of the website becomes, so they end up calling a developer to make it happen.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 00:58h, 08 December

    Leave the designing to the designers and the developing to the developers. Let it work that way and leave it that way. I know a lot of developers who call themselves designers (GASP!) only because they were able to pickup Photoshop.

  • nigel
    Posted at 09:56h, 12 December

    I’m already bored with this endless debate on designers vs developers. As a traditional print publisher, all I know is that I’m already making money out of Adobe Muse, and that’s all I care about.

    We’re creating great sites with forms, Paypal, animation, video, password protected areas, downloadable documents, etc, etc.

    Developers can moan about their ‘purity’ in coding, but neither my clients nor myself give a toss about what’s lying around in the back end – it just works!

    Hooray! No more waiting two days for some ‘always-busy-with-someone-else’ developer to change one wrong word on my website for me!!

  • Martin
    Posted at 17:42h, 28 December

    Hi Nigel
    Can you tell me how you get password protected areas.

    I am officially an idiot as I have just started using Muse.


  • Jim Jordan
    Posted at 17:48h, 05 January

    Nigel, it is a bit reckless to use beta software on clients. Do they know you are violating Adobe’s license for Muse?

    Martin, Muse will only create password protected areas with Adobe’s Business Catalyst hosting. Muse cannot produce any server-side code outside of Business Catalyst. So you’ll need to do some ‘coding’ to do what Nigel has done. Nigel is apparently a ‘developer’ as well… or he is misleading you in some other way. Maybe a link to one of his sites might illustrate how well Muse works.

  • Andrew
    Posted at 01:55h, 13 January

    I laughed so much at “…remember geocities?”


    imo, this is dreamweaver layout mode or iWeb again.

    A good website is both good design and good code.

    This might be good design and bad code, but that still makes it a bad website. What do you even do if a new browser supports something differently? Wait for adobe to update it?

  • Ginny
    Posted at 11:36h, 12 February

    Way back when in the dark ages, when most of you were in diapers, I worked in two capacities, I was trained as a designer, but I also worked in print production. There is value in knowing both AND in keeping an open mind. It really is important to know a lttile bit about what is going on underneath the hood. I also vallue Muse. . Many other drag and drop programs are Clunky and irritating, Muse is not. I love the ease and flexibility of the program, especially in creating light bixes and slideshows.

  • ERR
    Posted at 21:17h, 10 May

    Holy cow, really people? Haters going to hate…

    This whole developer vs designer nonsense is just that; a big bunch of C–p!

    Co-existence is the key here. Look coders have their Dreamweaver and what ever… And now designers now have Muse.

    I own a photographic & graphic design company and am in the middle of overhauling my site. Although I did learn how to code a bit over the past 20 years (enough to get by) that’s not my thing at all. I am a “right side of the brain(er)”. MUSE came along at the perfect time and is fantastic!

    I think Nigel hit the nail on the head. The end result is that it looks great and works. Nobody but coder geeks care about the code, just like nobody (except camera geeks) care about what camera I create an image with, yawwwwn. It’s the end result that matters. And if the client likes it so be it.

    Any person of intelligence knows that there will always be a distinct need for coders and designers so why waste your time arguing. Instead, why not try to help Adobe develop MUSE into something both sides will enjoy using?