Web designers are fortunate to live in a time that provides access to some incredible tools. They make it easier to create user interfaces, edit images and even write code. New technology affects virtually every part of our work.
And now the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) is creating a higher level of expectation. AI must not only make processes easier, but it must also simply do them for us.
After all, why go to the trouble of writing a WordPress plugin from scratch when there is a bot that can build one via a few commands?
On the surface, it appears that a massive shift is underway. Web design (or selected parts of it) is becoming more and more automated. This is positive because it takes a little bit of weight off our shoulders.
But tools alone can only do so much. Building a great website requires a lot more than a smart user interface or advanced algorithm. Here’s why that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
Websites require thought and planning
Have you ever heard the story of the person who bought a pre-made website and was an instant success? All that was needed was a few tweaks to the layout and the addition of a logo. Within a few weeks they were millionaires!
As far as we know, 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 good tool can help us execute a plan. But it is ultimately up to humans to create right level. One that provides a vision for what the website should be.
Consider the ingredients of a great website:
- Attractive appearance;
- 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 come out of thin air. And even the most advanced technology cannot implement these elements independently.
Rather, it requires project stakeholders to work together to achieve defined goals. From there, tools can be used to help make those goals 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, consider a page builder that produces a flawed mobile layout. Or a buggy code generator that emits a PHP syntax error.
These problems can and do happen. So where does that leave us? Having technical knowledge is the key to effective troubleshooting. Without it, we’re left scratching our heads and hoping a support ticket offers a solution.
Knowing how a site works on both the front and back end is empowering. And it goes far beyond squashing bugs.
First of all, it helps us identify which tools we need to use. We can look at a website’s project requirements and determine the best way forward. This helps to ensure that a website will function as desired and better adapt to future needs.
And speaking of the future – the web is changing fast. Technologies evolve and age. The ability to stay on top of these shifts is essential.
In addition, we need to understand the process and potential risks of making changes. Therefore, at a minimum, a basic understanding of these subjects is necessary to succeed in both the short and long term.
There is no magic solution to building a great website
It seems that highly advanced design and development tools are released daily. Just when we are impressed by one, something else comes along to steal the limelight.
Technologies like AI-powered art generation and chat are becoming mainstream. And when we experiment with them, it is only natural to predict what they will be capable of. For some of us, it can lead to feelings of fear. Others may see it as a boon to productivity.
Regardless, it’s worth keeping things in perspective. These advances do not mean that we will be able to sit back and put the entire web design process on autopilot. There is still much work to be done.
And there are also plenty of opportunities to learn. We can try out these tools and see how they fit into our workflow. Some may end up benefiting us in ways we cannot yet imagine.
But so far, the ingredients of a great website haven’t changed. As such, a web designer’s expertise is as valuable as ever.