Adobe Muse compared with open source for business websites | Apertura Designs

Adobe Muse compared with open source for business websites

We've recently fielded requests from readers on the topic of building business websites with Adobe Muse—a web design application that is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. In this blog entry, we'll cover our thoughts on Adobe Muse and its suitability for small business websites—specifically when compared with competing open source web Content Management System (CMS) products.

First, let's look at cost. Adobe Muse is part of Adobe Creative Cloud; as such, is software that you rent to use. While the nominal monthly rental fee may appear to be attractive, it's important to note that the software is often moreexpensive over a period of time than previous versions Adobe products. We have blogged before on Creative Cloud's deceptive pricing, which you can read about here and here. As well as the ongoing cost for Adobe Muse, businesses also have to pay a monthly web hosting fee. Finally, there is no way for businesses to predict future price increases for Adobe Muse. By comparison, open source CMS products have no initial license cost or ongoing rental fees.

Next, let's look at Adobe Muse's advertised feature set. The flashy product homepage at highlights attractive website features such as full screen slideshows, scrolling effects, widget integration for popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and designs that adapt to mobile devices. While these are desirable features, none are unique to Adobe Muse. Indeed, open source CMS products include the same or more features at equivalent quality, and with greater flexibility and scope for customisation because of the code's underlying open source nature.

The fact that Adobe Muse is not a true cloud application is another point of contention. Like all Adobe Creative Cloud applications, the software must be installed on your computer's internal drive. This means that in order to design and maintain your website, you are tied to a particular computer system. Even worse, Adobe's restrictive licensing means that the software can be installed on a maximum of two computer systems only. Compare this to an open source CMS like WordPress, which works exclusively over a web interface. There is no software to install, and your website can be created and maintained from any computer (including mobile devices) for free.

Adobe Muse must be activated over the internet every 30 days. Product activation is intended as an anti-piracy measure to ensure your copy of the software is genuine—but more often than not it creates a pain point for customers who have legitimately paid for the product. Product activation means an ever-present risk of the software failing to work at critical times (for example, when working on a particularly important project with a looming deadline). By comparison, open source CMS products are perpetually free to use, and have no product activation schemes.

Finally, Adobe Muse itself is not a CMS, and offers none of the benefits of a true CMS product. In the scenario that Adobe Muse software becomes unavailable to a business after a website has been created with it (for example, because of design staff changes, or if the product becomes prohibitively expensive), the website can only be exported as a mass of customised code. This creates a costly situation—as specialist knowledge of the website code is then required to maintain and update the website going forward. By comparison, businesses building a website with an open source CMS have a choice of thousands of hosting providers with the capability to easily import and re-host the website using the exact same software. It's open source that makes this possible.

In summary, we feel that Adobe Muse is best suited to businesses already locked into Adobe Creative Suite applications, or with substantial funds to spend on websites built with proprietary tools and the inevitable resulting ongoing maintenance costs. Compared, however, to the compelling cost and feature benefits of open source CMS products—like Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla—Adobe Muse otherwise makes little sense for small business websites.

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