I’m not worried about AI ending web design. To me, all the fear of web designers losing their jobs only applies to the web designers who choose not to pivot with the times. AI is a HUGE change, but here are five reasons I’m excited rather than afraid.
Websites Are Basically Free Already
I’ve been running a web agency for two decades. Obviously, a LOT has changed over that time – but that’s the point. In the beginning, you basically had to have a computer science degree to build a website. I literally got a computer science degree and started building websites.
When page builders started coming out (most notably WordPress), I remember everyone saying that WordPress was going to be the end for web designers. Of course, that wasn’t true at all. It just changed who the web designers were. Graphic designers were now able to be web designers without having to learn to code. The computer science people moved on to more interesting work. A bunch of us started building plugins for WordPress to extend the functionality so people could do even more stuff – like complicated online forms and even e-commerce – without having to code.
Developers have always been trying to make it easier for non-techy people to build their own websites.
Right now, everyone is worried that AI is going to be the end of the road for web designers because now anybody can just tell ChatGPT what they want, and ChatGPT will write the code for them. There are WordPress page builders plugins already taking advantage of generative AI. Have you seen what’s coming soon to Elementor?
The fear is that this is going to make websites “free” for everybody. There’s no need to pay a web designer when you can just do it yourself, right?
To me, websites are basically already free. All you really have to pay for is the hosting. Most popular WordPress page builders come with “Starter Templates“, many of which are 100% free, so all you have to do is change the words. If you don’t want to use WordPress, you can use Squarespace or Wix where you’re basically just paying for the hosting. If you don’t want to do any of that, hop over to Fiverr, where I’ve seen websites sell for under $100.
My point is AI is not making websites free. Websites are basically free already. I’m not worried about AI changing/lowering the price of web design. I don’t see how it could go any lower than it already is.
Motivation and Specialization
Even if ChatGPT makes getting a website as easy as having a traditional “discovery call” with a web designer where you just say what you want and then, boom, you have it instantly ready, I don’t believe business owners would use the service.
It’s not because it’s too hard. It’s because they don’t want to. Even if they knew what they wanted, is spending their time using AI to generate a website really the best use of their time? I guarantee none of the clients I’ve ever worked with over the last 20 years would ever take the time to build their own websites.
Virtually all of my clients are doctors, and they strongly resist doing anything other than working with their patients. I’d be open-mouth shocked if any of my clients told me they were going to go on to ChatGPT to build their own website. They might use AI for other things, like helping them diagnose health problems, but they are not going to build their own websites with AI.
They don’t want to. They are going to keep doing what they specialize in. They’re not going to become web designers. They’re going to keep being doctors.
Websites Are Not Solutions
All of my clients also know that a website alone is not going to get them any new business. A website is not a solution. Even if a business owner could have a website for free with the snap of a finger, there’s still so much more that goes into actually getting leads and onboarding new clients.
That’s why all the free Strater Templates and DIY platforms haven’t destroyed web agencies.
Ultimately, a solution has to do three things:
- Drive traffic
- Pull leads
- Convert clients
A website alone will not do any of those things. There are zero doctors (or serious business owners) who are going to spend the time architecting and implementing their marketing campaigns. Even if they had the time, they would be terrible at doing it. It’s hard, they don’t like it, and their patients/clients need their attention.
The Real Threat Isn’t DIY Business Owners
The real threat that AI creates is not from DIY business owners suddenly wanting to build their own websites. The threat with AI is that it once again lowers the bar in terms of who can build websites.
There used to be an entire industry of “web designers” that turned the designs of graphic designers into functioning websites. The WordPress (and other site builders) came along and enabled graphic designers to build their own websites. All along, business owners keep hiring other people to do the work.
Today, the avalanche of new AI tools is making it easy for anybody who wants to learn how to prompt the tools to create the graphics, copy, and design for websites. But business owners are still going to keep hiring other people to do the work. The question is, are they going to hire you?
How To Survive The AI Avalanche
Implementation is the easy part. Coming up with the ideas and tying them all together is – and always has been – the biggest challenge.
The web designers who choose to remain isolated, resist the changes, and hope to keep getting paid for the same output that can now be automated by AI will take a huge hit.
Today, more than ever, the value is in the business results, NOT the implementation of technical services.
Web designers who stick with the old-school approach of posting a price list of technical services on their websites are going to find their leads drying. That business model is going away forever. Not just because of AI itself but because AI is enabling a new squad of prompt engineers to do your job faster and cheaper than you can by do it by hand.
The web designers who shift to a Solution First Agency model that focuses on business results are going to keep winning. The secret is to develop a comprehensive solution that covers the three main objectives of online marketing.
- Drive traffic
- Pull leads
- Win clients
The implementation of your solution can/should/will change over time. Maybe up until now, you did everything manually. Now you can start adding AI tools to make things faster and easier. I’m sure the future holds new technology you’ll want to incorporate as well.
The secret to surviving the avalanche of AI is to shift from thinking about implementation and into thinking about getting measurable business results.
The best way to do that is to be part of a community like Blue Theory so you’re always up to date on how the latest technology is being used. Even more important than that, get a mastermind group behind you.
I guarantee you’ll be able to offer your clients better solutions that deliver more value if you’re part of a community where everyone is focused on that goal. This is the secret to massive success, especially right now.
Stay alone at your own risk.