Much has been done about the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on our lives. And it’s almost impossible to avoid the headlines that tell us. In addition, some products that use AI (or something similar) have hit the market.
There are many questions about what exactly AI is capable of. A big one for web designers: Will it take our jobs? I’m not so sure about that. On the contrary, I believe this technology can be a boon to our industry.
For web design, there are some areas where AI can be obvious. Helping us avoid difficult tasks is a big one. But it can also act as a quality assurance check – ensuring our work is excellent before deployment.
With that in mind, here are some ways in which AI can benefit web designers – including some that you can currently exploit.
Write Better Code
Coding can be a joy for some people. But we can also get rid of the small number of hairs left on our heads (okay, I’m speaking for myself on that one).
So writing a lot of clean code is a topic to get the right syntax. Lose a character here and there and it can break an entire function. Even the smallest errors cost us valuable time.
There are plenty of great resources for learning a language and for troubleshooting. But even they have limitations. Have you ever spent hours trying to incorporate a fragment you found on Stack Overflow into your project?
This is where a smarter code editor can be a life saver. Imagine a tool that has a deep understanding of the language you are working with and is able to predict exactly what you want to achieve with each line.
As futuristic as it may sound, this functionality is already available. GitHub Copilot is one such product. It’s a plugin for existing code editors, works with many programming languages.
It goes beyond the ubiquitous “auto-complete” functionality and tries to understand the context of what you are writing. There are some incredible features here, such as the ability to convert code views into actual code.
The potential here is huge. AI coding tools can increase efficiency, help us write code that meets more standards, and avoid those pesky syntax errors. Not to mention how happy it will make your hair.
Photoshop and similar apps are staples of a web designer toolbox. The ability to create, manipulate and optimize images is a significant part of our job.
But even if you are competent in a particular app, some tasks require a lot of effort. Removing backgrounds and covering up unwanted aspects of the image are two things that come to mind. It takes attention to detail and some fine motor skills to get things right.
This is an area where AI has made the most progress. Photoshop, for example, has features that can analyze an image and determine its main content. This results in features that facilitate various changes.
So it can take seconds instead of minutes to remove background. Accuracy is not always perfect, but technology is improving rapidly. AI is another way in which we can help cure previously frustrating tasks.
As an industry, web design has made significant strides in accessibility awareness. The idea of empowering all users to guide and eat what we take is not some utopian dream – it is part of our core mission.
Building accessible websites involves planning and sound processes. And we can’t forget a test system either. For example, making sure a website is navigable via a keyboard or having a personal experience with a screen reader.
AI can be very useful here – to a point. While it could be used to automatically detect (and possibly fix) some issues, we cannot completely replace the human element. Context is very important.
While AI can tell us that an image is missing an ALT attribute, it’s a stretch to expect the technology to detect how an image is being used. Is it just decorative? We may still have to define that for ourselves.
Still, for features like color contrast, code integrity, and readability, the right tool can make a big difference. For example, check if the WAVE Tool is enabled. Then imagine what it (or a similar app) could do in the future.
Website security is becoming increasingly complex. Threats are constantly changing and aim to avoid our efforts to defend against them.
Existing tools like security plugins and firewalls are effective. They block the most common types of attacks and block malicious traffic. But they are far from perfect solutions.
Potential attackers also keep on developing new tools and techniques. And it may take a while for our defenses to come up. That means we may not have protection in time to prevent a hacked Web site.
Again, AI may provide an answer. Consider an engine that analyzes traffic and code in real time. One that can determine a threat – even if it has not been seen before. It then closes the connection before any damage is done.
This also goes back to our earlier section on writing better code. It may prevent us from releasing software with security flaws in the first place. Think about the time, money, and user data that could save this.
Some of these technologies are already out in the wild. And they are likely to improve over time.
A Safer, More Efficient Future?
There are many opportunities for AI to help web designers. We are already starting to see it in some of the tools available in the market.
It may take some of the heavy toll of building a beautiful, functional, and accessible website. It is hoped that it will leave us to focus more on the creative aspects of the process.
Undoubtedly, some tools will work better than others. And we may find that AI is not always the best answer. But it has the potential to help us do our jobs better.
Will this technology deliver on its promise? It will be exciting to find out!