Website design has come a long way in recent years. In the beginning, it was all about HTML, and only the most dedicated coders had any real chance of whipping up a website. But then along came the uber-convenient website builder. Here was a resource that could help people with no coding or design experience build a relatively decent website in a short time. All you had to do was choose a template, load your data and images and hey, presto, you were good to go.

Is AI set to change the face of web design?

Photo by geralt / CC0 1.0

However, this speedy approach to website design sometimes comes at a cost. With thousands of websites created using the same automated platform that uses similar design templates, we sometimes lose the uniqueness of a brand. And for this reason, thankfully, we are back to the point where design is again taking precedence over speed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean good news for website developers.

Are the robots taking over?

With VR now an integral part of our everyday lives, it stands to reason that we might expect artificial intelligence to have a profound effect on how we carry out our work. From  virtual shopping to employee training, we’ve made some pretty innovative uses of this tech. But what about when it comes to our jobs; are the robots taking over?

Studies show that the odds of computer programming automating are 30–75 percent. Website design, however, is a little more creative, and we imagine the percentages would be closer to that of a graphics designer, which stands at 0–35 percent. Despite the seemingly low odds of unique website design becoming automated, our never-ending pursuit of affordable automation means that AI could have a real future in this industry.

Now, this is no new thing. One of the most famous website-building platforms, Wix, introduced their ADI (artificial design intelligence) back in 2016 and worked on improving it ever since. Still, with all its updates and improvements over the years, it’s not quite ready to manage website design autonomously. But it’s not too far off all the same.

Human Creativity will Always Win Out

Remember The Grid? It was an ADI platform that made waves as early as 2014, but that has since gone off the radar a little. The first design efforts by their ADI (named Molly) were a joke by seasoned web design pros. And while it’s true that Wix and its counterparts have improved upon The Grid’s early design attempts, designers aren’t shaking in their boots at the prospect of competing against AI.

An artist can see the mistake they make whereas AI, on the other hand, is another story.

Photo by Jakob Montrasio / CC BY 2.0

Like art and literature, the design is too human to automate. As you can imagine, AI and ADI need to follow set rules staying within specific parameters. And when finished with its job, it can’t take a step back and appraise its work as a painter, or in this case, a website designer can. A designer knows no limits other than those they place on themselves, and besides, quite often, the best designs are those that altogether disregard traditional rules of design. So, while it’s true that ADI can carry out the tasks that a designer can, it can’t offer a unique creation that will wow its audience.

ADI is for Cookie-Cutter Sites

Now, if you’ve ever used a website-building platform, you’ll know that although much of the process is automated, there are plenty of opportunities for you to mix things up a bit and place a little of your personality and creativity into your website. For this reason, we’re not going to say that all sites built on those platforms are the same. What we will say, though, is that those designed exclusively by ADI using predefined templates or rules of design often end up looking like other websites within their specific niche or industry. So, if a business owner is looking for a website that performs well but lacks uniqueness, then sure, ADI is the future. But for those that want to stand out from the crowd, the human element of traditional web design is hard to beat.

AI or what we now call ADI is a marvelous innovation and one that designers could and should take advantage. It offers them the chance to automate portions of their work while still having some creative input and possibly even speed up the entire process. So, in answer to the question, “Can AI design a website?” we’d say, yes. But do you want it to do so?