Learning Adobe Muse

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By Jennifer Farley
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  1. Welcome to Muse

About this book

Adobe Muse is an exciting new tool from the world’s foremost design software company which allows users to create beautiful and fully functioning websites without writing any code. It provides graphic designers the power to use their print design skills over the Web.

This book will help web designers as well as graphic designers to master Adobe Muse quickly. It will provide step-by-step instructions that guide you through building a website with Adobe Muse.

"Learning Adobe Muse" will teach you how to plan, design and publish websites using Adobe Muse. It starts by covering the tools and interface of the program and moves on to the concepts you’ll need to understand for laying out your web pages. You’ll learn how to format text using reusable styles, add images, create a clean navigation system, and add interactive elements such as panels and slideshows to your pages and all this without writing a single line of code!

By the end of the book you will have created a smartlydesigned, fully-functioning website.

Publication date:
September 2012
Publisher
Packt
Pages
268
ISBN
9781849693141

 

Chapter 1. Welcome to Muse

Welcome friends, to Adobe Muse! As we work our way through this book, we will learn how to use Adobe's latest web design software to create eye-catching websites. All without writing any code.

Examples of some of the interesting ways in which people have used Muse include portfolio-style websites for photographers, illustrators, and designers and interactive brochure style sites for all kinds of service providers. If you would like to see some examples of how other designers have used Muse to create their websites, check out Muse Showcase at http://www.adobe.com/products/muse/showcase.html.

In this chapter, you will learn:

  • What Muse is

  • How to get around the workspace

  • How to save your site

  • How to select tools

  • How to work with panels

 

What is this Muse you speak of?


Muse is a brand new offering from the software design company, Adobe. The idea behind it is to allow designers to create websites as easily as we can create layouts for print. Known as a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web design tool, Muse allows us to build entire sites without worrying about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or jQuery—all of which have the ability to leave a designer in a cold sweat.

If you are a graphic designer and have used Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop, you will find that you will have a certain level of familiarity with Muse. The interface is similar to others from the Adobe stable and the ability to drag-and-drop elements into your layout is what makes Muse special. You can focus on the look and feel, while Muse creates the code behind the scenes.

The following are some of Muse's features:

  • Plan, design, and publish: Starting your website with a plan is always a good idea and that's the first step in the Muse workflow.

  • Easy layout of text and images: You don't have to worry about adding DIV tags, Padding, and Margin attributes in order to place your design elements on the page. You can drag-and-drop where you want and precisely control your layouts.

  • Add interactivity: Muse lets you add rollovers and button states created with the Photoshop layers. Arbitrary HTML and Muse widgets allow you to set up more advanced interactive features such as accordion panels, custom lightboxes, and menus.

  • Automatically-generated menus: As you add pages to your site, Muse will update the navigation menus on the fly.

  • Publishing is easy: While you focus on creating a compelling and beautifully designed site, Muse automatically generates all the HTML, CSS, and scripting required to make it function. You can publish your site from within Muse if you host it with Adobe, or you can export your site and host it with any service provider of your choice.

So let's get started.

Where to find Muse

In order to follow along and work with the program, the first step is to download the software to your computer. There are two ways to buy Muse: either by paying monthly or yearly as part of Adobe's Creative Suite, or you can just try it out as a thirty-day trial. Either way, you can download the software from http://www.adobe.com/products/muse.html and install it on your system. Muse is available for Mac and Windows.

The Muse workspace

A good worker knows their tools, so we're going to take a little time to find our way around the tools and panels that make up the Muse workspace.

The Muse workspace lets you plan, design, preview, and publish web pages and site assets. The toolbars and panels allow us quick access to the most common operations for creating and editing documents. Multiple documents can be displayed in the workspace and we can jump from one page to another by clicking on the tab that identifies that page.

The Welcome screen

The very first time you open Muse you will be greeted by the Welcome screen. This screen provides quick access to recently opened sites and easy creation of new sites. It also provides a direct connection to the Adobe Muse site where you can learn more about the program. A link provides information on the most current version available.

The Welcome screen will continue to appear every time you start Muse from the application icon in Windows or Mac OS. If you open a Muse file directly from a folder on your computer then the site will open without showing the Welcome Screen.

  1. 1. To disable the Welcome screen, select Don't Show Again and close it.

  2. 2. To re-enable the Welcome screen, enable the Show Welcome Screen option in the Edit menu.

To open a recent site

Click on the site name on the left-hand side of the Welcome screen. If the site you want to work on is not listed there, click on the Open icon and browse through your folders to find the Muse site.

To create a new site

For creating a site, follow the given steps:

  1. 1. Click on the Site icon under Create New on the Welcome Screen or choose File | New Site from the main menu.

  2. 2. A New Site dialog box opens, which allows us to set up the dimensions of our site, the number of columns, and margin and padding settings.

    If you are a graphic designer used to working with units such as millimeters, centimeters, inches, points or picas, you may be wondering what units are used here. All units are in pixels as Muse is intended entirely for screen-based design work.

    The fields in the screenshots can be described as follows:

    • Page Width: This specifies the width of the container that will hold your web page's content.

    • Min Height: This specifies the minimum height of your page. As you add content, your page will stretch but this value ensures each page will always have a minimum height.

    • Columns: This specifies the number of columns that are used for guides to align objects in the design mode.

    • Column Width: This is the width of each column.

    • Gutter: This specifies the gap between columns.

    • Center Horizontally: Leave this checked so that the container, which holds your web page content, sits in the centre of the user's screen regardless of their screen resolution. This is a standard practice when designing websites.

    • Margins: This defines the space between the edge of your page container and other outer elements.

    • Padding: This defines the space between the edge of the page container and the content inside the container.

      Note

      The settings you specify in the New Site and Site Properties dialog boxes apply to all pages and master pages throughout the new site. However, you can customize properties for individual and master pages. We'll look at how to do that shortly. It is a good practice to set your site dimensions when you start a project, just as you would if you were designing for a printed page, but don't worry if you find you need to change the settings later. You can access this dialog box at any time by choosing File | Site Properties or by right-clicking (Windows)/Ctrl + clicking (Mac) the page or master page in the Plan view.

  3. 3. For this example, we'll set the Width as 960 pixels, Height as 800 pixels, all Margins as 20 pixels, Top Padding as 10 pixels, and Bottom Padding as 20 pixels. Type the numbers in the fields or click on the up and down arrows next to each field to increase or decrease the current values.

  4. 4. Click on OK to complete your initial site's setup.

Views

After clicking on OK, the next screen you'll see is the Plan view. The Plan view displays your site plan—an overview of how your website is organized. When you first create a new site, Muse automatically generates a Home page, also called the index page, that is linked to the Master Page design. Plan view is the default view when you open a Muse site.

At this stage, your Plan view will only have a single page: the home page, which appears as a thumbnail on the upper section of the Plan view. Beneath that you should see your Master pages. In this case you will have one master page, named A-Master. The Master pages act as templates to share common design elements such as headers, footers and logos that are required on more than one web page.

A Muse site has five views: Plan, Design, Preview, Publish, and Manage. You can switch between any of the views by clicking the links at the top of the interface. The fourth link, Publish, opens the Sign In window which starts the publishing process. We'll talk about these views in more detail in later chapters.

Saving your site

Before we go any further it's a good idea to save our site.

  1. 1. Choose File | Save. The Save Muse File As dialog box opens. Type in a name for your site; let's call it MyFirstWebSite.muse.

  2. 2. Navigate to the location on your computer where you want to save your sample project and then click on Save.

Opening a page in Design view

With our site saved, we can move into the Design view and check out the rest of the Muse workspace. While still in the Plan view, double-click on the homepage thumbnail to open that page.

Note

You can also switch to the Design view by clicking on Design at the top of the Muse window.

The Design view is where most of the heavy lifting of the design work takes place. This is where we add our text, images, and multimedia widgets to our web page.

The Design view workspace encompasses everything you see when you open or create a new document:

  • Views

  • Toolbox

  • Document window

  • Panels

  • Menus

  • Control panel

With your homepage open, notice that tabs appear for your selected page and for your site plan. You can open multiple pages in Muse and each one will appear with its own tab. To jump from a page to another page or to the site plan, simply click on the page name tab.

As shown in the previous screenshot, the letters indicate the different components of the Muse workspace, as follows:

  • A: Menu

  • B: Views

  • C: Control Panel

  • D: Toolbar

  • E: Document window

  • F: Panels

The toolbar

The toolbar contains tools for selecting objects, working with type, cropping, and drawing rectangles. It sits at the top of screen, to the right of the Views section. It contains some tools you may be familiar with if you've used other Adobe programs.

The following is a brief overview of the function of each tool:

  • Selection tool: It lets you select objects on a page

  • Crop tool: It lets you crop images on a page

  • Text tool: It lets you create a text area where you can add text to a page

  • Zoom tool: It lets you zoom in or out from the page

  • Hand tool: It lets you pan around the page by dragging

  • Rectangle tool: It lets you create rectangular, round rectangular, or circular objects that can be filled with colors or images

Using the tools

To use a tool, simply click on the tool using the mouse or press the appropriate shortcut key. You can find the shortcuts for each tool by positioning your mouse over the tool icon. A tool tip appears, revealing the tool's name and its shortcut. For example, follow the given steps:

  1. 1. Position your mouse over Zoom Tool.

  2. 2. Click on Zoom Tool to select it, as shown in the following screenshot:

  3. 3. Roll your mouse over each of the tools and pause to see each tool's name and shortcut. Make a mental note of each shortcut.

Even at this early stage, it's worth making an effort to remember the shortcut for each one (and there are only a few tools here in comparison with other Adobe programs). You'll find that your workflow speeds up considerably as you work with one hand on your mouse and the other hand ready on the keyboard to press shortcuts.

The Control Panel

The Control Panel (Window | Control) gives you quick access to options and commands related to the current page item or objects you select. The Control Panel is context-sensitive, so depending on which tool you have selected or which object you have clicked in the document window, the options displayed will vary. To get more information about each option, hover over an icon or the option's label to see a tool tip.

Click on Type Tool (T). Notice how the options on the Control Panel change.

Panels

Panels give us speedy access to additional tools and features. By default, the panels sit together in a dock on the right-hand side of the screen. This is not a permanent position; the panels are actually floating and are independent of the document window. We can customize the workspace by changing each panel's location and reorganizing them to suit our own needs. In the following screenshot, the Swatches, Character Styles, and Spacing panels are currently active. By clicking on the name in any Panel tab, that particular panel becomes active. Unlike other Adobe software you may have used, individual panels cannot be separated; they are "stuck" together.

Click on the Text tab, the Paragraph tab, and the Wrap tab in order to activate them.

Expanding and collapsing panels

The panels take up a small chunk of the real estate on your screen, however, you may not always want them to appear fully expanded. We can reduce the amount of space they take up by collapsing them to show icons without names. The following steps show how to expand and collapse all the panels in the dock:

  1. 1. Click on the double arrow to the right of the panels' names to collapse the panel, as shown in the following screenshot:

  2. 2. To expand the panels, click again on the double arrow at the top of the icons.

Another way to save space is to collapse the panels so that only the tab and panel name are visible. To do this, perform the following steps:

  1. 1. Click on the tab name. The tab itself will be highlighted but the controls and features in the panel will be hidden.

  2. 2. Click on the tab name a second time to expand the panel again.

  3. 3. To resize a panel, drag the bottom edge of the expanded panel.

Hide all panels

You may not want to see any panels while you're working on your design. To hide all the panels choose Window | Hide Panels. When you're ready, you can show them again by choosing Window | Show Panels.

Open a panel

If you can't see any particular panel in the panel groups, you can find a full list of panels under the Window menu. To open a panel that isn't showing in the workspace, choose Window | Fill to open the Fill panel.

If the panel name has a check mark under the Window menu, this means it is already active on the screen and that particular panel will appear highlighted in its panel group.

Rearranging panels

To move a panel into another group, drag the panel's tab. As you drag, you'll see a ghosted version of the panel and a blue highlighted drop zone appears in the group, which indicates the area where you can drop the panel. You can move a panel up or down within the dock by dragging it to the narrow blue drop zone.

As an exercise, try dragging the Fill panel downwards to join the group below it.

The document window

The document window is the white page in the middle of your screen and this, of course, is where all the action happens. We can see blue guidelines indicating the number of columns, the gutter size, and the margins. In the following screenshot, we can see a setup using three columns with space between them (known as the gutter) and the margin around the edge of the content area:

Rulers, guides, and grids

Rulers and guides are a designer's best friend, whether you are working with print or on the Web. By default, Muse displays rulers along the top and left side of the workspace. As mentioned earlier, the measurement units used are pixels. To show or hide rulers, choose View | Show/Hide Rulers.

Muse also displays five guides that define the page size, the header, and the footer. We haven't yet defined a header and footer height so you should see guides with handles for dragging the top of the page, the bottom of the page, and the bottom of the browser.

When you use the mouse to hover over guides along the left side of the workspace, you'll see a tool tip about the purpose and functionality of each guide.

The top and two bottom guides help you to determine your overall page size. If you want to change the size of your page without going back to the Site Properties dialog box, you can drag the first guide up, or the fourth guide down to extend the content area of your page. To show or hide page guides, choose View | Show/Hide Guides.

Header and footer guides

The second and third guides on the page define the bottom of your header and the top of your footer, respectively. These guides become editable only after you have defined your header and footer in the master page. We'll discuss that in more detail in a future chapter. On normal pages, the header and footer guides are displayed for visual reference, but they cannot be dragged to a new location. To show or hide header and footer guides, choose View | Show/Hide Header and Footer or Ctrl + Shift + ;/Cmd + Shift + ;.

Grid overlay

Many people think about web design layouts in terms of columns. Three-column and two-column layouts are very popular but it's important to remember that thinking about rows and columns together gives us a grid—an important tool to help designers create elegant and attractive layouts. Muse provides a grid overlay.

To show or hide the grid overlay, choose View | Show/Hide Grid Overlay or press Ctrl + '/Cmd + '.

Zooming

While viewing content in the document window, it's important that we have the ability to zoom in and zoom out as we work on our design.

Changing magnification

There are a number of ways to change the magnification or zoom level. You can do any of the following:

  • Select the Zoom tool (Z). The cursor changes to a magnifying glass with a + symbol inside it. Click on the document window to zoom in at the point of clicking. Keep clicking to be able to zoom into a magnification of up to 4000%.

  • To zoom out while using the Zoom tool, hold down the Alt key (Win)/Option key (Mac) while clicking. The cursor will change to a magnifying glass with a symbol inside it.

  • Choose the magnification level directly from the drop-down box beside the toolbar. The drop-down box offers values from 50% to 400% but you can type in any magnification level between 10% to 4000%.

  • Choose View | Zoom In or View | Zoom Out.

  • Use the shortcuts Ctrl + = (Win)/Cmd + = (Mac) to zoom in and Ctrl + - (Win)/Cmd + - (Mac) to zoom out.

  • Use Ctrl + 0 (Win)/Cmd + 0 (Mac) to fit the page inside your window and Ctrl + 1 (Win)/Cmd + 1 (Mac) to view the page at its actual size.

Undoing actions

In an ideal world, we could put together our websites without making any mistakes. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world and sometimes we need to backtrack or undo some of our actions. Thankfully, Muse allows us to step back and undo multiple actions. In fact, you are allowed to undo up to the last 20 actions. If you make a mistake you can do one of the following:

  • Choose Edit | Undo (Action) or

  • Hit Ctrl + Z (Win)/Cmd + Z (Mac)

If you want to redo something you have just undone, you can do one of the following:

  • Choose Edit | Redo (Action) or

  • Hit Ctrl + Shift + Z (Win)/Cmd + Shift + Z (Mac)

Getting help and more resources

For complete and up-to-date information about using Muse panels, tools, and other application features, visit the Adobe website. To search for information in Muse Help and support documents, as well as other websites relevant to Muse users, choose Help | Muse Help. You can narrow your search results to view only Adobe Help and support documents, as well.

For additional resources, such as tips and techniques and the latest product information, check out the Muse Community Feedback page at http://forums.adobe.com/community/muse.

Muse updates

As Adobe updates the software, you will see a message on the the Muse Welcome screen informing you there is a new version available. This message only appears when you have an active Internet connection.

 

Summary


In this chapter, we have discussed how Muse enables us to create websites without writing code. We have also familiarized ourselves with the Muse workspace, its tools, panels, and the document window and we looked at shortcuts for each of the tools. Remember, it is worthwhile to learn these shortcuts to speed up your workflow.

In the next chapter, we'll look at the Muse workflow, which is based on a typical web designer's workflow from the initial concept to the final website. We'll look at the steps of planning, creating, designing, and publishing.

About the Author

  • Jennifer Farley

    Jennifer Farley has over 12 years experience working in the graphic and web design industry. In 2002, she became a full time educator, teaching Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Design Theory. She runs her own design business, called Laughing Lion Design but now divides her time equally between teaching design and freelance illustration work.

    Browse publications by this author

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