The history of web design may be short, but it’s definitely eventful. From the first rudimentary text-only webpages of the 90s to the flashy designs of the early 2000s and to the minimalist flat designs of the 2010s, web design and development have changed a lot and continues to be a dynamic industry.
So, what’s the next step in their evolution and what can we expect from the websites of the future?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already revolutionized many industries – finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and digital marketing just to name a few. It was only a matter of time until AI started to be incorporated into web design and development and, although this new technology is still in its infancy many experts argue that AI could be the next big thing for websites.
Similar to the other applications of AI, the technology in web design and development is all about boosting efficiency, improving functionality, and making things easier for both professionals and end-users.
Right now, if you want to build a website you have two main options.
One, you can use a website builder like WordPress, install a template and tweak it yourself. Although this method is cost-effective, it still requires a bit of coding knowledge and basic web design notions. You still need to know how to choose colors, fonts, and the right layout, otherwise your DIY website will be a complete flop.
Two, you can hire the best web developers and they will do a custom website according to your requirements. It’s the best way to get a professional website, but it’s not cheap and it takes a long time.
Artificial Design Intelligence promises to be something in between. AI-powered design tools use machine learning to understand creative concepts and automate the design process. So, instead of designing a logo, AI can generate it within seconds based on just a few details. Developed to its full potential, the technology can even create whole websites from scratch, making templates obsolete.
But we’re not quite there yet and the rising popularity of AI doesn’t mean that designers will be replaced by chatbots. AI is a promising new technology that has already disrupted many fields, so sometimes it’s difficult to balance hype and realistic expectations.
It a layout exploration tool that uses AI to re-arrange page elements and allows the user to experiment with various layouts.
An AI-powered website builder that received a lot of hype when it came out and got significant coverage from sites like Forbes, The Fast Company, and Wired. On this platform, users are guided by an AI named Molly, who personalizes and optimizes the design based on the user’s preferences. Although The Grid didn’t rank high in users’ preferences, it did offer a glimpse into the amazing opportunities of using AR in web design.
The Artificial Design Intelligence Tool for Wix
An AI addition to the popular website builder platform, this ADI tool helps users personalize existing templates with requiring coding knowledge.
Similar to The Grid, Firedrop has an AI assistant called Sasha who interacts with the user, asks questions about their preferences, offers design recommendations and then automatically designs the website.
As is the case, if the first generation of groundbreaking new technologies, neither of these tools are perfect, this is the reason that they have received both good and bad reviews.
However, they showed that AI can evolve web design, helping users brainstorm solutions and experiment with various designs without learning how to code.
Companies like Wix and Bookmark are now starting to polish these first experiments and offer more and more refined features for website owners. In a few years, AI could be at the center of a new generation of platforms.
One future application that web developers are particularly excited about is website personalization. One of the biggest sources of uncertainty when developing a website is finding common ground between the different types of visitors. As marketers know too well, a 25-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man will browse websites in different ways and have different expectations of what a website should look and feel like. With today’s one-size-fits-all approach, it’s hard to please everyone, but AI could change that.
By incorporating AI into website development, we could soon be able to display different versions of the website depending on the visitor’s preferences and intent.
Many brands are already experimenting with AI to personalize their services and offer added value to their users. For example, British fashion company thread users AI to give clients personalized style recommendations based on their preferences. Then there are chatbots, which are now so easy to find that customers have already become used to receiving personalized suggestions from a digital assistant. According to a report by Gartner, AI will influence 80% of online consumer interactions by 2020.
Developers have much to gain from AI as well because it can automate a number of basic tasks that are nevertheless time-consuming. This way, developers will be able to focus less on small processes and have a bigger role in strategizing and applying their creative input. Testing is one of the best examples.
Although AI is far from replacing manual testers, it has made great progress in the automated testing of user interfaces, pattern recognition, and identifying visual bugs. From performance testing to functional regression testing, AI can help developers streamline the QA process and even shorten the development lifecycle.
Applied in web design and web development, AI can add value both to professionals and end-users. For developers, AI can save time, automate basic tasks and give them the freedom to brainstorm creative strategies. For users, AI sets the stage for a new era of personalization and meaningful interactions.
Erica Sunarjo is a data analyst at The Word Point, a website for translation and localization services. She is highly enthusiastic about all things Big Data, IT and Artificial Intelligence, and she shares informative resources to help businesses and consumers take advantage of the latest technologies.