Artificial intelligence (AI) came into existence in the 1950s. It is the ability of a computer to learn to behave like a human through experience. In fact, AI can identify patterns and unseen opportunities that humans simply cannot. Although still in its infancy, AI is making headway at a fast clip.
Informed by context, it has the potential to introduce dramatic efficiencies and make disrupting changes in the digital industry. Because it works with data at scale, it can speed up and automate processes and enable businesses to make decisions even quicker than they already are. When it comes to web design, the impact is already being felt.
You may have noticed interactive chatbots popping up all over the web. These conversation-simulating virtual assistants might not live up to your expectations just yet, but they’re getting there. With natural language processing (NLP), chatbots are acquiring the ability to understand and respond in a more accurate, empathetic and real way which makes for a much better user experience (UX).
Less robotic voicebots, a feature in practically every Sci-Fi movie, are following suit. Research by ComScore anticipates that half of all searches in 2020 will be via voice and speech recognition. Designers are increasingly building multilingual voicebots and voice search optimisation into websites. There’s also a focus on getting faster results to enhance user retention and UX.
Google’s automatic email response suggestions are a form of AI, but users might not perceive it as such. For the average consumer, the chatbot trend will be one of the most obvious examples of an artificial intelligence website. The question is how long will it take before chatbots can answer complex questions to the level that call centre staff can?
AI already assists with data storage and computer performance. Web designers can use AI to check the responsiveness of their sites on various operating systems and devices. But what about actually building websites?
Well, AI-based algorithms look set to democratise web design, giving non-coders a voice beyond social media. The latest developments in artificial design intelligence (ADI) can conjure up customisable websites in no time by studying a plethora of existing web pages. Companies are already providing services where clients answer chatbot questions related to layout, branding and other preferences, and machine learning do the heavy lifting.
It will be interesting to see how the tech will progress to prevent a sense of sameness between websites using similar AI builders. Having said that, the key to many successful websites is a simple website design.
Finesse plays a part but much of web design is colouring between the lines and aiming for best practice. AI’s cognitive abilities can flag and fix inconsistencies in web design. Tasks like cropping are taken care of with no human intervention.
AI equals automation and automation minimises the mundane aspects of creating. The fact that AI can take a picture of a handwritten user interface design and magically transform it into valid HTML markup code is just cool, period.
In addition, a host of apps and website features have been built around AI-enabled image recognition and classification. Machine vision combines cameras and AI to identify places, people, objects and so on.
This is fantastic news in so far as the technology facilitates greater accessibility for the visually impaired. As a sort of Shazam for the visual and tangible, there’s a commercial aspect to machine vision that’s going to become par for the course in web design.
A lot of the talk around AI speaks to real-time machine learning and customisation. And indeed, many of the companies working on AI are looking to track visitors and use engagement data to modify content for different demographics. Imagine visiting a website and seeing what it thinks people of your age, sex, locale etc. need. On one hand, it seems like a streamlined UX optimised for relevance.
On the other hand, we’re talking about AI-enabled websites proffering content based on surveillance. We’d be remiss not to mention concerns about privacy and transparency. We all want more convenience and personalisation, but do we want it at the expense of being constantly monitored or, Heaven forbid, incorrectly typecast? The lack of trust due to the precedents of illegal data distribution (remember Cambridge Analytica?) is going to remain at the forefront of debates around AI.
But from a marketing perspective, this is pure gold. Tailored messaging pushes targeted consumers halfway down the marketing funnel to the consideration stage. Ka-ching! This degree of customisation in e-Commerce stores will likely be a real boost for potential conversions and revenue generation.
For starters, AI like the sort used in Google’s RankBrain is fine-tuning search algorithms so that they churn out high-quality results.
Where A/B testing used to be the go-to means of figuring out which web properties work, results-focused AI analytics tools have started to take over that role. AI is the new kid on the design-refining block.
It’s not just quality analyses that are being conducted. AI-based security solutions are being crafted and deployed to improve the safety of cyber platforms. These security systems may be the key to making customers feel like their information is secure in the hands of brands.
To Sum It Up
At present, AI can be effectively utilised for narrow data-driven tasks such as finding correlations and making predictions based on patterns. This has numerous uses and places AI at the cutting edge of web design. But there are ethical considerations such as the misuse of personal data and the philosophical idea that the more we delegate to machines, the more we remove ourselves from knowledge.
As many question marks as there are, the hypothetical future of artificial neural networks looks promising. Furthermore, it appears as though humans won’t be pushed out of the picture anytime soon – a notion that should reassure many a creative web designer. Our problem-solving capabilities are still necessary for bridging the gap between various technologies, and between people and those technologies.