In a world where websites can almost design themselves, how does a web designer stay relevant?
With the growing popularity of tools like Squarespace and Wix, it can be tempting for clients to build websites themselves.
Even more robust AI platforms like TheGrid.io have (seemingly) replaced the need for human designers and developers.
So should designers embrace these systems? Should they ditch WordPress in favor of AI-driven developer tools? Should they give up designing all together now that these AI platforms exist?
The use of AI for web design in its current state is impressive, but still limited. As of yet, there is still a need for a human touch when it comes to design.
Convincing clients that a professional designer is worthwhile, even if they have the choice to use these other AI platforms, may be more difficult these days. But it’s nowhere near impossible.
In short, human designers still matter.
In fact, many designers can use AI to their advantage to win over clients, if they know how to do it.
How Should You View the Use of AI in Web Design?
It’s important for designers to understand the growing influence of AI in web design, but not necessarily as a threat to the profession in general.
Rather, AI should be a stepping stone for developers and designers to build better UX with less effort.
AI should allow you to give your clients a better, more functional, more beautiful site without overworking yourself to do it. It should improve automation and free up your time for more creative endeavors.
Ultimately, AI should be the catalyst for every designer to produce a better end product.
But this also means being aware of what AI can and can’t do.
In some instances, AI will most likely replace certain aspects of your job (this can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you do and what you want to do).
It may also mean that you will have to shift your design services in order to accommodate the use of AI.
Some clients may want to start the process on their own using drag-and-drop builders, for example, and only hire you to finish a site or add functionality that they don’t have the expertise to do themselves.
In other instances, they may want you to work on a different platform. If you’re solely a WordPress developer, that might pose a challenge.
Or you may have to find ways of integrating AI into your WordPress sites to meet demands.
The reality is that AI will, in some way, affect your web design business.
How Can You Use AI to Improve Your Services?
From a high level perspective, AI is relatively simple. It’s the idea that a machine can complete a task in the same or similar way as a human.
In the web design world, this can mean a couple of things.
There is basic AI software that you can add to the things you’re currently doing. For example, there are certain WordPress plugins that rely on AI you can use to improve your WordPress sites.
Aimojo, for instance, uses AI to add machine learning taxonomies to your WordPress content. This gives you better search results and contextual menus.
Kindred Posts is another WordPress plugin that uses AI to improve the navigation and add AI-based widgets for post recommendations. It uses AI to “learn how your website visitors use your site and recommend content based on their interests”.
This basic form of AI adds to your productivity and the quality of your end product. It’s not necessarily an invasive form of AI. Its goal is simply to make your job easier.
This AI allows you to build websites that are smarter.
There are also other forms of AI that you can use to build smarter sites, too.
Content tools, for example, aren’t limited WordPress – they use AI to help you create better websites.
Colormind, for example, is a color scheme generator that uses deep learning and AI to “learn color styles from photographs, movies, and popular art.”
Adobe Sensei is another tool that uses machine learning and AI to improve your design business in a variety of ways, such as document scanning, smart tags, and much more. It’s a sort of AI watchdog for your design services.
If you already use Adobe Creative Cloud, this is an AI tool that will make your job easier.
There are other, external sources of AI that might help improve your business offerings.
Firedrop, for example, is yet another web design tool that incorporates AI – in the form of a chatbot called Sacha – to help you build a site step-by-step. You might find this helpful if you’re short on time or you have a heavy workload and need to get a prototype out on the market.
Alternatively, you might recommend Firedrop as a “get started” point for clients who aren’t quite sure what they want yet.
But that doesn’t mean that AI technology like this will replace the need for you entirely. There are still some limitations to web design and AI that will require your expert experience and human insight.
How Is AI Limited? How Will It Affect Designers?
The goal of using AI in your web design services is to automate complicated tasks, reduce costs and improve your project.
But what AI can’t always do (yet) is understand the wants, needs, and desires of your clients and their audience.
The human component – emotion, audience, psychology, etc. – is something that gives you the advantage over your competition.
Going forward as a designer – even one taking advantage of AI – will mean growing in an understanding of the human side of the business.
This means more of a focus on things like the psychology of design: who, what, and the why behind how things should be/look/act.
Humans are complex in a way that machines simply are not.
The reality is that only you can design the way you do. There’s a reason people hired you over other designers in your circle.
While AI can help you build a smarter website, it can’t replace a human designer’s intuition, complexity and understanding of emotion.
To grow as a designer, you have to start embracing the concepts of human nature.
Don’t just focus on building good UX. AI can do that.
Focus on building sites for your human clients, for their human audiences, and for their very basic human needs.
At the end of the day, AI should assist human designers and developers to build a better product.
Designers and developers shouldn’t ignore its significance, either. This is especially true if you want to stay a designer for the long haul. AI technology (plugins, platforms, etc.) will only become more robust as time goes on.
Designers need to be aware of exactly what can and can’t be done using AI when it comes to building websites.
Ultimately, however, AI can’t replace the human components of design – emotion, psychology, and human interaction.
This is what people will hire you to do, and while AI can help you achieve a better end result, it simply can’t replace your “you-ness.”
Focus on the things that only you can bring to the table, and with the help of AI, you’ll have a winning combination.