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 Print designers are already outdated, but what happens when they are expected to design for applications instead?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.