Website creation has lately been changing in order to appeal to the rapidly growing market of those not particularly skilled in the area, who are wanting to build websites. CMS went some way to solve this as people could completely remove themselves from the code-based technicalities of web development, such as WordPress. Despite this many people still struggled with the whole design side of website creation.
In an attempt to solve this, CMS based around templating which restrict the freedoms of design (in order to ensure websites are usable and consumer friendly) such as Wix and Squarespace were created. However, all of these CMS are still not entirely self-explanatory, with problems like confusion over naming of menus (due to menus being created by those who are technologically minded).
This is where AI is starting to creep in.
A number of companies are attempting to automate both the design and development of the website through AI systems. One of the most prominent at the moment is Wix’s own ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). With this system, you simply give it your company name, the type of company you are and a few words about what your company does. Wix then returns with a complete site, sub-pages and all – based on what it thinks you should have on your site – ready for you to drop in all of your content. You may be thinking, but what happens if you don’t like it? Well, you can either restart and roll the dice again, or use a range of menus which let you change very broad things on the site; colour palettes and the kind.
But let’s take a look at the example result they give:
It’s an appealing site, I’ll agree with that. However, Wix say “no two sites ever looking the same”, yet, to me, there doesn’t appear to be anything special about this site. But reading into this a bit further, I may have found why. “…choosing from billions of high-quality, stunning combinations and possibilities...” Wix’s ADI seems to only look through its own templates, taking parts of them and merging them together into another new template; hence why there can be billions of combinations without any fear of exact repetition. But is this really the best we can do?
I took a look at another AI designer, called Firedrop, to find out. Similar to Wix, Firedrop attempts to make design easier by minimising the learning curve needed to create a website. However, Firedrop does this by using a chatbot for an interface which starts in the exact same way as Wix – asking for your company name, type and description. After that all you need to do is type what you want to do and everything else is done for you.
So again, let’s take a look at the 4 example outputs:
Now, these are nice websites. But… they’re all so similar. And even comparing these designs with that from Wix again there’s huge similarities.
They all have a large image at the top, followed by sections of text with a large image to the side. I’m not saying that these are bad AIs by any means. It just seems that they aren’t necessarily as impressive as you may first think.
It would make sense that the systems work by analysing websites with similar titles, or descriptions and pull together a template that has features used on the analysed sites. However, this leaves the outputs as nothing more than an “average”. From my point of view these AI created sites aren’t unique and bespoke, but a little more generic than you would hope.
Just to reiterate, I’m not saying that these systems aren’t good, I just personally think they are far from being widely adopted as in their current state, they’re more of a gimmick than something that’s actually useful.
If these sites continued to churn out site after site, I would image at some point, they would begin to analyse themselves; potentially causing averages of averages. If this did happen and these AIs were widely adopted, then it would indirectly cause many issues.
I feel fewer people would choose to try and create bespoke sites by hand, or develop new software, JS plugins, CSS attributes, etc. Issues would arise by AIs needing to learn how to use these changed, or just omit them completely, causing web innovation to slow.
To conclude, I think that this is a good start for AI in web design, but there needs to be definite improvements to make the outputs less alike. Also, perhaps adding some kind of rating on how well the AI performed would improve the diversity throughout the sites, without having to redo the entire creation process.
If you want to see a bit more about these two technologies check them out at the links below.