Web Designer vs Machine:
What impact will Artificial Intelligence (AI) have on Design Operations?
Artificial intelligence has long been an object of cultural fascination. It is a topic widely explored in literature and film, from the paperback classics of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke to a string of blockbuster movies – and now, thanks to recent advancements, some of these seemingly fantastical concepts are edging their way into digital design industries, in which a premium is traditionally placed on creativity and imagination.
As it stands, AI may well represent the next digital frontier, the next big game-changer for industry. Its potential is vast, and how it will be utilised across various applications has become a topic ripe for discussion.
Here at Bapple, we’ve been pondering the effectiveness of artificial intelligence in the design process and how it could potentially affect our livelihoods as digital designers, and we are probably not alone among those in the industry in contemplating what impact it will have on graphic and web design studios around the world.
The emergence of Artificial Intelligence in design
A number of AI-assisted website design services have recently emerged: The Grid and Firedrop are two such services relatively new on the design scene, while Wix, one of the better known do-it-yourself website-building services, has also launched its own AI website design and creation service, Wix ADI an AI, design-assistant program where it can help you design and build most of your website – ‘automagically’.
From our research these services appear to be effective for very simple websites with several pages but we believe they will not replace large business applications or specific business websites, where true customer insight is required through traditional human communication and UX design discovery methods.
Despite this, conversation around artificial intelligence naturally shifts to its potential, and this potential is often framed in its theoretical extremes (typically represented as total autonomy).
As an initial step, a productive way to address the intersection of AI theory and reality is to focus on AI’s potential as an assistant to human intelligence, rather than as some sort of replacement. Not: will AI be your new designer? But, rather: how will professional designers utilise artificial intelligence?
AI meet designer, designer meet AI
Will you be welcoming your new AI assistant, designer or otherwise, to the workplace any time soon? The chances are that you have already done so, or will be doing so soon – AI assistants are becoming increasingly common, currently inhabiting smart devices around the world in the form of Gmail, Microsoft’s Cortana, Ok Google and Apple’s Siri.
It is, of course, a big leap from mobile digital assistant to website designer, however stepping back a bit and considering how the technology may evolve opens up a range of possibilities. Just as do-it-yourself services such as Wix and Squarespace have done, artificial intelligence may well also carve out a niche for itself in the designer’s toolbox.
How industry adapts to AI and incorporates the technology into its work-flow will be a point of interest going forward. For instance, Steven Widen, partner and president at E-Cubed Media Synthesis Inc, writes at Forbes that “AI-driven design tools could help designers to quickly sift through several design options”.
“Consider a case where designers can create a storyboard and then feed it to the algorithm,” Widen writes. “The algorithm then applies constraints to the storyboard to come up with several template options. Doing so takes care of the grunt work, leaving UX/UI designers to make more creative decisions.”
Innovative use of AI across different applications could be what separates forward-thinking designers from their competition.
Website design: What companies should keep in mind
When it comes to putting together a website, companies will need to assess what is best for their business and their customers – ranging from the offerings of design studios to website builders to AI website builders.
For businesses thinking about developing or redesigning a website, it is worthwhile keeping in mind that first impressions count – give careful consideration to the value of your website as a first port of call and reflection of your business, and consider what importance you place on customisation and collaboration.
Next, consider the following in the context of “man vs machine”:
- Does your AI website designer have experience working with a variety of clients and what does their portfolio look like? Can they handle both small and large projects?
Be it man or machine, consider your designer’s experience, and delve into their portfolio to see what they are capable of.
- Will your website be designed to behave slightly differently across desktop and mobile, could AI interpret this? And will you need assistance with app design, social media plans and integration, or email marketing campaigns?
Make sure your chosen service ticks all the boxes when it comes to your requirements – it is important to confirm that everything will be covered from the get-go.
- Are you seeking both internet and print design services? Do you also need logo and branding assistance? What about brochures, business cards, flyers and signage? Will you need assistance with content development?
From one medium to the next, ensure that your designer can provide the full range of what you require.
- Will you require support in undertaking promotional activity across different channels?
A designer intimate with the details of your business and the message you want to convey will likely be able to assist.
Now, also, consider the “human touch”:
- What value do you place on a personal and collaborative approach?
Keep in mind such factors as the interview process, market segment experience, the research process and the in-person review process that will be undertaken.
- What level of ongoing support will you require?
Having the right structures in place will make future development a more streamlined process.
- Is it important to be able to access all of these services in the one place?
Consolidating will streamline the process and likely save valuable time.
How to decide?
What you want will, of course, depend upon the scale of your project and its importance to you. So, what is the ultimate value of your website to your business?
The following table could be a useful reference point and checklist in determining what is best for your business:
Do it yourself website builder
AI website builder
|Client experience, portfolio|
|Desktop and mobile|
|Social media, email marketing, app development|
|Internet and print design: logo, branding, brochures|
|Personal, collaborative approach|
To summarise; we believe artificial intelligence will be an exciting and powerful technology in the near future, but it may never completely replace the all important human touch. It will however prove to be a great time saver and valuable assistant in our ever expanding design toolbox!
We hope you enjoyed this article and it helped influence your business decisions.
Need advice in digital design services? Talk to Bapple
We are a UX and Web Design Agency based in Sydney, Australia. Our internal team is nimble and flexible enough to develop bespoke solutions for every client. By cutting out the middle man Bapple is able to offer its clients a smarter, faster and more affordable service than its larger agency counterparts. Owner Peter Kawecki brings over 18 years of web design experience to the table and is an expert in building websites that are intuitive, functional and visually stunning. If you wish to discuss a project, please email or call us on the details below and provide a detailed brief of your project.Get a quote
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