It’s impossible to escape the hype surrounding artificial intelligence. Stories about this technology are everywhere.
Tools like Bard, ChatGPT, and Stable Diffusion are becoming mainstream. And people have a lot of opinions regarding what they mean to society. Two very boisterous camps are forming.
On the one hand, we have the AI cheerleaders. They are looking at the future through rose-colored glasses. Even if they have concerns about potential misuse, they’re generally optimistic.
Then we have the doomsday crowd. They tend to see AI as a means to spread disinformation and put humans out of work. Science fiction has become a reality.
I tend to be somewhere in the middle. Yes, I see benefits. But I also worry about the harm that AI might cause. Plus, we don’t fully understand what we’re doing with this technology. We’re moving full speed ahead – consequences be damned.
This thinking also applies to AI’s impact on web designers. The existing tools we have can be helpful. Yet they also present some significant challenges to our industry.
Here are a few areas where I believe AI will frustrate web designers. And (surprise), none of them are existential!
Cleaning Up After Adventurous Clients
Some website owners love to experiment. They’ll install new WordPress themes or plugins without a second thought. Or they’ll attempt to change the meticulously-crafted page layout you built for them.
Web designers are usually left to deal with the aftermath. It’s part of the job. And AI may make things even harder to manage.
It’s not hard to imagine the trouble one can get into. A client could generate content that’s full of inaccuracies. Or they might add a problematic code snippet.
Even AI image generators can be problematic. There is a lot of gray area when it comes to copyright. Therefore, a client may upload an illegal image.
This new category of tools performs tasks at lightning speed. The negative impact on a website could happen just as quickly.
A Race to the Bottom in Pricing
It’s no secret that AI tools can write code. That might send shivers down your spine. And some developers may wonder if they’ll soon be replaced by bots.
This fear is not unfounded. Stories are already detailing how humans have lost their jobs to ChatGPT. These cases may be extreme. But web designers could still take a direct hit.
Pricing is an area that seems ripe for conflict. Some prospective clients may scoff at the cost of a seasoned developer. They’ll reason that AI is “faster and cheaper.” No mention of accuracy or adaptability, of course.
Even so, web design isn’t easy. And a great website still requires a human touch. To this point in history, AI alone can only advance a project so far.
But will anyone be surprised when a client uses AI as an excuse to pay less? It’s only a matter of time before this becomes a common argument.
Here’s hoping that most clients embrace reality. There are things web professionals do that bots can’t. It’s a point worth driving home.
An Influx of Spam and Junk Content
Clients aren’t the only ones who will use AI to create content. Spammers and malicious actors are sure to take advantage. They are undoubtedly giddy about the possibilities AI presents.
There are multiple reasons for concern. First, AI-generated content is usually coherent. This may allow it to slip past some spam filters. And phony content that looks legitimate is dangerous. Thus, we may see more users falling victim to phishing scams.
AI is also incredibly fast. A tool built for rogue purposes could flood a web or email server and cause service interruptions. And it may be “smart” enough to adjust tactics on-the-fly.
Spam is already a thorn in a web designer’s side. AI has the potential to raise the bar exponentially. As a result, we may see higher costs for maintenance, web hosting, and email services.
The day-to-day tasks we perform will likely become harder – all thanks to the misuse of AI.
The Added Cost of Using AI Tools
AI may lead to higher costs across the board. And that’s not accounting for the cost of the tools themselves.
These tools are in their early stages. Many provide free service levels. But make no mistake: their creators are expecting massive profits.
Let’s use ChatGPT as an example. Developers hoping to tap into its API will have to purchase “tokens.” The more you use the service, the more tokens you’ll need. And those costs will ultimately be passed on to users.
For web designers, this means an extra expense for projects. Those who like the convenience of AI will need to budget accordingly. And it may be too easy to spend more than you anticipated.
Sure, it may be cheaper than hiring a freelancer. But there will be a cost for employing the help of AI.
Navigating a New Era of Web Design
For all its potential to help web designers, AI might also become an obstacle. It’s a nascent technology that we’re just beginning to understand. Thus, we’re likely to hit some serious bumps in the road.
So much depends on how people use it. Some will inevitably do so in ways that make our jobs harder. It might be an adventurous client or a hacker. But web designers will be tasked with cleaning up the mess regardless.
We may also struggle with client expectations. Humans can’t work at the speed of AI. Yet some people may expect us to. And they’ll also devalue the knowledge and experience of professional designers. That could eventually shrink the pool of potential clients.
It sounds gloomy. But web designers are great at adapting to new circumstances. We routinely adopt new technologies and revise our workflows. And despite the challenges, we can do it again with AI.