On Adobe Muse

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

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 em/i/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.

3 comments on
“On Adobe Muse”

  1. This is not the first time I see Adobe Muse compared to FrontPage. Ridiculously enough, the generated code does look pretty horrendous (I shuddered why I checked out the view source). Did you notice those conditional statements (“if gte IE9” and “if lt IE9”). That’s pretty hilarious, at this point I am thinking why even bother with those conditionals?!? I wonder if they are actually serious about this product, it feels like a HUGE step back.

  2. Wow! Frontpage. . . I just nostalgia’d. Last time I used Frontpage was in elementary school.

  3. I think the point is being missed here. I don’t think Adobe has designed this for coders, that what DreamWeaver is for correct? The point of Muse is for visual “artists” who don’t have the time or inclination to write and perfect code (which is tantamount to purgatory for us). “Type A” people who work visually for a living and who need/want to design their own sites to have control will love this application. I think this product is closer to GoLive which I still continue to use. It is still on the Beta and needs a few more inclusions such as the ability to see and edit the HTML, but this is a Godsend for those who just want to lay it out. I just hope Adobe pursues it to fruition and makes it a stand alone, purchasable application. I don’t think this will threaten the livelihood of any good coder.