Guest post by Anita Brady.
Are you wasting money paying for web development and design services? Ever wondered if you could do it all yourself and save a pile of money?
The newest software release from Adobe, a web design platform called Muse may allow you to do just that. Although this new release has had its share of industry criticism and controversy, this revolutionary new CMS software allows graphic designers with minimal web experience to make professional looking sites and export HTML in minutes. Although Apple’s iWeb preceded Muse in the “DIY web-design for dummies” category, the integration of Muse with Adobe’s other programs like Photoshop promises to open up professional site creation to a new level of non-coding designers.
Featuring an interface similar to Adobe InDesign, new users will feel right at home with the familiar toolbars and design layout. Using the simplistic front-end, you can create a professional website that could serve a variety of purposes: blog, e-commerce, business site, search marketing, or portfolio. Someone with very little website design experience is now able to create a stylish and professional looking site in just a few steps. With a little bit of work, you can add full functionality to an otherwise boring Muse site that would cost hundreds in professional design fees. Here are a few extra things you should know if you are considering giving Muse a try.
Adobe has been working to optimize the HTML output for Muse to be mobile-friendly. This is important considering that 20 percent of all web traffic in the U.S. and Canada now comes from mobile devices. In the meantime, there are a few design considerations that you should make to ensure your site will load properly.
Text Columns. In your main page design, be sure to break up text fields into two or three columns. Not only is it easier for viewers to read, but also having multiple text columns will allow mobile devices to load your entire text box on one screen.
Image Size. Good images are important, but make sure they are not too large! Except for your main page header, be sure that your pictures are less than 300 pixels wide and are optimized for mobile websites. Muse has some image optimization built in, but that doesn’t mean that you should embed a five-megabyte image just because you can. Resized images end up looking un-sharp and may be slow to load. Keeping your images at proper size and dimensions will ensure they load quickly and properly on mobile devices.
SEO. Good search engine optimization tags are also critical to making your new Muse site mobile-ready. Be sure to include pertinent keywords in the description of each page (under page options), including a couple of relevant sentences about your site, as well as your business zip code. This description pops up directly under search results, and including your zip code helps ensure that you are featured in local business results on sites like Google.
Don’t be scared of incorporating a shopping cart or online store element to your site. There are many great third-party sites like Wazala that feature a simple back end that allows you to create a full store-front and then embed it into your Muse page. You can literally create a professional online store in minutes and have it up and running without ever writing any HTML.
Adding functionality to a basic Muse site is relatively easy. There are loads of third-party sites that allow you to include a variety of add-on apps. There is a work-around for just about every limitation within Muse. Sites like Nabble can create embeddable forms, mailing list sign-ups, and even discussion forums that will integrate perfectly with Muse. By taking advantage of these powerful third-party apps, you are using all the resources available to you as an amateur web developer, and hopefully creating a unique site that will stick out from other Muse designers.
If you are looking to create a site with original content or a discussion section, consider displaying ads on your site to help offset hosting expenses or boost revenue. With hosts like Google AdChoices, you can generate HTML that will embed smart-ads seamlessly into you existing Muse site. These ads are usually displayed in between posts or on a dedicated side bar. Even though you are just learning web design, take advantage of professional advertising options and add legitimacy and revenue to your online business.
As you can see there is huge potential for creating something great, even with minimal experience. So why not take advantage? Consider adding a few of these little “extras” into your new design to make up for any design features that Muse lacks in order to make the most of this revolutionary new opportunity for yourself and your business!
Senior executive Anita Brady is the President of 123Print.com, a leading provider of a high variety of quality items like business cards, fancy letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.
FTC Disclosure: This information is presented as an independent product review of Adobe Muse. Webbiquity has no financial relationship with either Adobe or 123Print.com.