So my CEO strolls into my office the other day and says, “Kat, I want you to experiment with artificial intelligence web design.”
What was that? The sound of the proverbial shoe dropping? Was my boss getting ready to bounce me out on my professional copywriting ear, with my talented web engineer landing soundly beside me?
Of course not, he assured me. He wondered if it might be a useful tool to show potential web clients what their website might look like in real time. That idea did appeal to me. I started day dreaming about wowing our would-be customers with a living demonstration of what their site might look like.
I work for an IT company (First Call Computer Solutions, in case you hadn’t put that together by the site you’re currently visiting), so we embrace and explore all innovation with as much of an open mind as possible. With great excitement, I started to experiment with AI web design.
The first AI web design option seemed so promising. In exchange for my email, I could begin my AI web design adventure. They even emailed me a link each time to enter the site, instead of using a password. How state-of-the-art! (Full disclosure: I’m pretty easily impressed.)
Step one was selecting a color palette. Uh-oh. At the risk of gender stereotyping, the second X chromosome I possess makes color selection a lengthy and complex process. And, at the risk of astrological stereotyping, I’m a Leo, so I don’t like being bossed around. I wasn’t a fan of the pre-selected, limited color schemes that I couldn’t manipulate the way I wanted.
Mildly annoyed, I went to the next step. The artificial intelligence assistant wanted me to pick a video for the site’s header (again with being bossed around!). But this option seemed cool. I was building a site about fly fishing, so I picked out a beautiful brown trout swimming around in a pristine river. My creative heart skipped a beat – right up until the color background of the header shadowed my video! I couldn’t get the video to run in the header without a color overlay.
Assuming my inability to make this feature work correctly was operator failure, I went to “the webs” to Google what I was doing wrong (as the support for the AI platform is not readily accessible). The first thing that popped up in the results was an HOUR long YouTube video describing why the AI platform I was using, “sucks.” Evidently, I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed with this piece of technology.
I went back to the AI platform and dinked around with the other options for probably another two hours. It was not the “build a site in minutes” tool that it said it was. It was more of a “After hours and possibly days of acute aggravation, build a completely unsatisfying, ordinary site that you can’t customize, that you don’t like, that isn’t optimized and that you still have to generate content for.”
Undeterred, I explored the next option. This AI web design platform used a chat bot to walk me through building a site. Now this was more like it! Had I engineered this interaction, I would have allowed for some small talk before digging into the web design. A lack of exchanged pleasantries notwithstanding, this approach was still useful – for about 10 minutes. This was when the chat box asked me to describe pictures I wanted for my site and I answered “women fly fishing.” The chat bot (somewhat rudely, I thought) informed me she couldn’t find any images related to that. Um, OK. If I’m going to go find a ton of images myself, why am I using artificial intelligence?
With that platform dead to me, I moved on to the last highly acclaimed option. The third time was almost a charm except it functioned exactly like all other DIY platforms that take FOR-ev-ER to figure out, format, and that you never get exactly the way you want because you aren’t a web developer and don’t know how to read, write and manipulate code.
This is why artificial intelligence web design and I are fighting. AI may have its day in the sun, but in my opinion, that day is not here. So for now, I’m sticking with “real” intelligence and lumping artificial intelligent web design in the same disappointing category as its artificial peers: artificial colors, artificial flavors and artificial preservatives.