All the buzz around AI-powered web buildings and coding tools has a lot of business leaders asking the same question: Do I still need to hire an agency to build my new website, or can I just get AI to do it?
While the appeal of a sentient web developer that costs pennies on the dollar is exciting, the technology is nowhere near that point right now.
As IMPACT’s Director of Web Services, I see these new tools offering an upgrade to the template-based, website-in-a-box services we’ve all heard of, but not much more.
These are tools that best serve very small businesses and early-stage startups that need some web presence soon — which they can replace with a more complete site when budget allows.
However, as the leader of a web design team, I see my own designers and developers using AI to enhance the work they do for colleagues.
Remember the purpose of your website
AI comes with a fair amount of razzle-dazzle, which can make it easy to get distracted from the actual subject at hand. So before we dive into the exciting realities of AI-powered web builders, we need to be reminded of just why we have websites in the first place. Remember that a website is not just a digital billboard filled with self-promotion.
It’s not a repository for content no one cares about.
A great website is an educational resource built with customers in mind.
So before we talk about what the machines can do for us, we need to remember what our website should do for our customers.
With that reminder, let’s dive in.
How AI-powered website tools can help you
For many a small business, a first website comes by way of Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, or another template-based builder. (These three platforms are the largest do-it-yourself website builders in the world, with Wix alone accounting for over 43% of all such websites.)
Some companies with a bit more cash may be able to afford a freelancer who uses templates and some custom coding to spin something up.
In many cases, these solutions are enough. They provide an effective digital presence that helps establish legitimacy and bring in traffic.
For these smaller businesses, AI-powered website builders will help streamline this process. Instead of going through ten or 12 steps, they’ll be able to launch a site in five steps.
Wix, for example, now boasts several AI features, from AI-supported design help to AI-powered copywriting for Facebook ads.
While Wix’s website builder model is still based on templates (as opposed to custom-built modules), the AI enhancements can make these templates more tuned to your liking than before.
But if you’re a bigger business with more unique needs, we are sorry to report that AI is currently unable to produce a custom, conversion-optimized site fine-tuned to your specific niche. But savvy web design agencies are using AI in the backend — you’re just unlikely to see it firsthand.
Here's how my team is using AI to better serve our clients.
Web design pros are using AI to boost their productivity
Most of the storytelling around AI these days is that it is an enhancer — not a replacer — of human ingenuity and creativity. This has very much been the case for the IMPACT web services team.
I oversee a team of about ten designers, developers, and web strategists who build custom sites for clients.