Web designers are fortunate to live in an age that provides access to some incredible tools. They make it easier to create user interfaces, edit images, and even write code. New technology touches virtually every part of our work.
And now the buzz surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) is creating a higher level of expectation. Not only should AI make processes easier, but it should also simply do them for us.
After all, why go to the trouble of writing a WordPress plugin from scratch when there’s a bot that can build one via a few commands?
On the surface, it appears that a massive shift is underway. Web design (or select portions of it) is becoming increasingly automated. That’s a positive in that it removes a little bit of weight from our shoulders.
But tools alone can only do so much. Building a great website requires a whole lot more than a slick UI or advanced algorithm. Here’s why that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
Websites Require Thought and Planning
Did you ever hear the story about the person who bought a readymade website and was an instant success? All it took was a couple of tweaks to the layout and the addition of a logo. Within a few weeks, they were a millionaire!
To the best of our knowledge, that didn’t really happen. The point is that success is rarely something you fall into. It requires careful thought and planning. This applies to websites just as it does in other areas of life.
A great tool can help us execute a plan. But it’s ultimately up to humans to create the right plan. One that provides a vision for what the website should be.
Consider the ingredients of a great website:
- Attractive looks;
- Ease of use and accessibility;
- Offers relevant and compelling content;
- Optimized for performance and search engines;
- Works across all devices;
None of the above can appear out of thin air. And even the most advanced technology can’t implement these items independently.
Rather, it takes project stakeholders working together to achieve defined goals. From there, tools can be employed to help make these goals become a reality.
Technical Knowledge is Still a Must
An app that does the hard work for us is great – until there’s a problem. For example, think of a page builder tool that produces a flawed mobile layout. Or a buggy code generator that outputs a PHP syntax error.
These issues can and do happen. So, where does that leave us? Having technical knowledge is key to effective troubleshooting. Without it, we’re left scratching our heads and hoping that a support ticket offers a solution.
Knowing how a website works on both the front and back ends is empowering. And it goes well beyond squashing bugs.
First and foremost, it helps us identify what tools to use. We can look at a website’s project requirements and determine the best path forward. This helps to ensure that a website will work as desired and be better able to adapt to future needs.
And speaking of the future – the web changes quickly. Technologies evolve and age out. The ability to stay on top of these shifts is critical.
In addition, we need to understand the process and potential risks of making changes. Thus, at minimum, a basic grasp of these subjects is necessary to succeed in both the short and long term.
There’s No Magical Solution for Building a Great Website
It seems like highly-advanced design and development tools are being released daily. Just when we are wowed by one, something else comes along to steal the spotlight.
Technologies like AI-powered art generation and chat are becoming mainstream. And as we experiment with them, it’s only natural to predict what they’ll be capable of. For some of us, that could lead to feelings of fear. Others may see it as a boon for productivity.
Either way, it’s worth keeping things in perspective. These advancements don’t mean that we’ll be able to sit back and put the entire web design process on autopilot. There’s still much work to be done.
And there are also plenty of opportunities to learn. We can try these tools and see how they might fit into our workflow. Some may end up benefitting us in ways we can’t yet imagine.
But for now, the ingredients of a great website haven’t changed. As such, a web designer’s expertise is as valuable as ever.