Diving into the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) requires an examination, or definition if you will, of what it is. AI research began in the mid-1950s and one of its founding fathers, John McCarthy, described it as, “Getting a computer to do things which, when done by people are said to involve intelligence.” Most likely, McCarthy and his fellow scientists knew the enormity of their research and its applications across industries. As AI matures, its benefits are becoming much more apparent, especially in web design and development. 

In a nutshell, AI involves using neural networks to train systems to “learn” within context so that they can repeat designated tasks with relatively high accuracy. The education, also known as “deep learning,” happens when the system is shown large numbers of examples so that it can recognize everything from colors to clothing items to well, people. If the system makes a mistake in identifying a bow tie, for example, it will be served thousands of images of bow ties so that it can process all of the item’s characteristics and save that data for future reference. 


The popular perception of AI seems to be that it mimics the cognitive functions of humans so precisely that it can fully replace scores of workers across disciplines. However, at present, AI pretty much performs tasks that staff members, in this case, web developers and designers, may not want to spend time on like adding records to a database or designing basic layouts. AI is being used throughout the web development process by making use of chatbots or virtual assistants for tasks such as requirements gathering and initial design discussions. By structuring key questions and algorithms, you can get data from the client and also have AI use that data for development and design recommendations. AI has predictive components that are beneficial for ensuring continuity and highlighting irregularities such as in the architecture of the site. The beauty of AI in this context is that basic information is collected and then the web team can spend their time strategizing and planning based on that data.  


Design in all its forms is still pretty much the domain of humans, but that doesn’t mean AI doesn’t have a role. AI’s ability to utilize context is what makes it smart and enables it to perform tasks like concepting themes, searching for photos, and assembling color palettes. These tasks can be time consuming and are usually based on gut instinct rather than on data that informs how users respond to certain components. AI makes use of the data on a more granular level and uses context to build a bigger picture that not only looks good, but will also be receptive to users. This means that designers at every level will serve as creative directors and design around the information that AI has collected. It’s a win for the client in potentially lower costs, and as a web professional, you can back up your choices with solid data. AI works on yet another level in that it can discover design inconsistencies within a site, prompt suggestions around best practices, and even change graphics based on each user’s profile. 


The use of AI in digital marketing is well documented and well proven, too. The biggest boon to come from AI in this arena is personalization. Consumers adapted quickly to having welcome messages, product recommendations, and personalized content served to them based on data they have provided and behaviors they have exhibited. When consumers need real-time assistance, AI-based chatbots have become a viable customer service solution. At a basic level, chatbots are programmed to learn how to answer common customer service questions and then the data from those conversations is used to enhance the customer’s profile and populate a larger data pool. The progressive information loop that is created through purchases, returns, inquiries, and product reviews yields an enormous amount of valuable data which is created by AI and best analyzed by it as well. This is evident in SEO strategies where data is abundant, but human interpretation can be limited. An AI analysis of SEO data is much smarter in a sense because it uses multiple algorithms to help companies make decisions and optimize on-the-go. Additionally, it can perform tasks like identifying content that may negatively affect SEO or suggest different visuals.

The Final Word

The effect of AI on the population has been compared to the use of electricity in its applications, and the thinking is that its impact will be greater. As a component to web development, its efficiency and ability to let professionals focus on the bigger picture seem to be its biggest assets. AI is not general intelligence; it doesn’t necessarily understand strategy and it can’t adapt to other tasks, which actually makes it a useful tool within specialized areas of web design and development. And, for those who are nervous about AI’s ability to dominate the workforce. Not to worry. As they say, wisdom overcomes AI. 

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.
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