Today Adobe released a preview of their new WYSIWYG website creator, Muse. Shortly after, I had a good old moan about it on Twitter. Not, as you may think, because I feel threatened by website creation being made easy — it’s been easy for ages, but ‘easy’ doesn’t always mean ‘good’ — but because it gets a few fundamental things badly wrong.
My code purist side rejected it because the markup it outputs is horrendous; if you don’t believe me, take a look at the code for one of their example sites, ‘Lucid Synergy’. My educator side rejected it because it teaches you nothing about how a web page is made; I learned to code by using Microsoft FrontPage many (many) years ago, and understood HTML by editing the source of the document and tweaking it until I got it the way I wanted — but Muse has no code view, so this is made very difficult.
But the real problem with Adobe Muse is deeper than that: it’s that all semantic sense is completely removed from the page. There are no headings, no lists, all text is in
p elements, inline styles are applied with
span rather than
b, etc; this gives no structure, no meaning, no aboutness to your page, which at the very least means penalties for SEO.
And worse still is that there’s no document flow; all the elements you add to the page are positioned relatively to their parent and follow no particular order, which is pretty bad for search engine spiders (and hence your SEO), but absolutely terrible for visitors using assistive technology.
It’s the product of a company that cares only about appearance, and nothing for content. As @paulrobertlloyd said on Twitter:
It’s not that the code Adobe Muse generates is ugly, it’s that it’s meaningless.
The issue with the lack of semantic elements is not insurmountable, it just needs some work by Adobe before the final release. The lack of document flow and content order is more serious, however, and will need a complete rethink; I hope that this happens.