Artificial intelligence in website design? Is that ever going to happen?
Well, some AI website designers have actually been around for a few years now. Does this mean that human website developers and designers have to start looking for new jobs?
What about the companies potentially paying for AI web design? Will they be satisfied with the results? Is there going to be a clear difference in websites created by humans and software alike?
There are certainly many questions about this topic which are left unanswered.
There may be some cost advantages when choosing an AI website builder, but at least for now, human designers and developers can keep their jobs.
Why? Because many beta testers and reviewers have checked out the AI website designers and remarked how terrible the results are.
AI Website Builders: Prologue
The Grid was one of the first AI website builders on the scene, so everyone began freaking out about what this meant for the industry. The Grid promised an interface where most of the physical work was taken out of the equation.
All the business owner would have to do is type in the content they want showing up on the site. After that, Grid would compile this information, choose colors, content blocks, pages, and locations. It has an AI “designer” called Molly to which you can speak.
As the beta testers have explained, Molly isn't much different than Apple's Siri, except that Siri answers basic search engine questions or pulls up a music track based on the song title. The same goes for Amazon's Alexa.
Sure, that's artificial intelligence alright, but the most it can do is possibly turn off the lights or order more toilet paper for you.
Molly, on the other hand, is supposed to complete processes that take most website developers days, weeks, or even months to complete. In short, AI website builders are programmed to think creatively, not just to complete one simple task.
How Has the Response Been?
The response has been mixed, but it seems like most bloggers, beta testers, and internet users, in general, are split into two camps: Those who fear the robot apocalypse and those who think the AI website builders stink.
The only people who seem to have an optimistic view on AI right now include those who are somehow attached to the AI companies themselves. For instance, if I search for Grid reviews on Google the vast majority of them are basically saying that this technology is not quite there yet.
Some reviewers claim that they'd rather watch this technology fail since it completely removes human creativity and puts it in the hands of an algorithm and computer.
I also checked the results on YouTube too. Since Grid was the most popular rendition of AI website building, I punched in some keywords pertaining to the crowdfunded venture.
Many of the videos are from The Grid company, but most of the other videos seemed to bash Grid right out of the gate. For instance, the second result on YouTube is called “The Grid Sucks.”
One of the reviews is a little less harsh, but it goes through building a website in five minutes using The Grid. Although the reviewer isn't too critical, it's clear that the resulting website looks extremely basic, outdated, and inaccurate.
What About the Final Design and Build Quality?
Reviews are one thing, but what about the actual sites being produced by AI website builders?
Well, the sites have a few problems:
- Some of the content is so randomly placed that you can't make sense of it at all.
- Most of the websites have far too many media queries.
- Much of the code ends up being illogical and clunky. For instance, one developer located a questionable number of classes per element in one of the websites.
I'm not going to post any screenshots or links to websites using Grid or other AI builders, mainly because many of them are from smaller, family-owned businesses. There's no need to give them bad publicity just for choosing a certain website builder.
However, you can check out this Reddit thread which compiles a decent list of websites made from Grid.io. There are also some comments in the Designernews thread that aren't mentioned in the Reddit thread.
The Best AI Website Builders Available
We mainly talked about The Grid, and that was because it came out with a bang, had a successful crowdfunding campaign, and seemed to be all over the internet for at least a week or so.
So, here are three main AI website builders that people have been talking about:
Firedrop has focused on building landing pages, which makes much more sense than full websites. It uses Sacha, an AI designer, for accepting your commands and listening to you as you design your page. Once again, the landing pages are very simple, but landing pages are often supposed to be simple, so some of the examples look okay.
The Grid has an AI web designer named Molly, which is supposed to learn as it listens to your voice. As mentioned above, The Grid asks for your content, then it creates the website based on what you have said.
Wix ADI is interesting because all Wix users can take it for a test drive. Therefore, you can keep your current site and maybe see if the AI designer is worth looking into. Wix ADI pulls information about your company from the internet, while also adding information into sections, pages, text, and more.
What You Should Stick With For Now
The technology from Firedrop, The Grid, and Wix ADI might be used for other purposes in the future. Heck, they might eventually evolve into something worth looking into for web design. But for now, your best bet is to stick with a human web designer.
All of these are wonderful for removing the need to code, and most of the time you only have to pay a small monthly fee for full access to features and hosting for your website. There are even some opensource options like WordPress that allow you more control, advanced website building tools, and self-hosting choices.
Therefore, we recommend checking out these reviews of website builders before you make a choice:
- WIX review
- BigCommerce review (great for ecommerce)
- Shopify review (great for ecommerce)
- Weebly review
- Squarespace review
Featured image by Oleg Erin