The web is an ever changing world! Users are always seeking personalized content and richer experiences – websites which can do whatever users want, however they want, and exactly as they want. In other words, end-users expect smarter applications with self-learning capabilities and hyper-customized user experiences. Now this poses a major challenge for developers – How do they design websites that deliver new and personalized content every time? Traditional approaches for web development are not the answer. They can, in fact, be problematic. Why you ask? Here are some clues.
- Building basic layouts and designing the website alone takes time. Forget customizing for dynamic content.
- Web app testing is a tedious, time-intensive process prone to errors.
- Even mundane web development decisions depend on the developer, slowing down the time taken to go live.
Automating the web development process, starting with the more structured, repetitive and clearly defined tasks, can help developers pay less attention to cumbersome details and focus on the more value adding aspects of development such as formulating design strategy, planning the ultimate user experience and other such activities. Artificial Intelligence can help not just with this kind of intelligent automation, but also help do a lot more – from assisting with design conceptualization, website implementation to web analytics. This human-machine collaboration have the potential to transform the web as we know it.
How AI can improve web development
Through the lens of a typical software development lifecycle, let’s look at some ways in which AI is transforming web development.
1. Automating complex requirement gathering and analysis
Using an AI powered chatbot or voice assistant, for instance, one can automate the process of collecting client requirements and end-user stories without human intervention. It can also prepare a detailed description of the gathered data and use data extraction tools to generate insights that then drive the web design and development strategy. This is possible through a carefully constructed system that employs NLP, ML, computer vision and image recognition algorithms and tools amongst others.
Kore.ai is one such platform which empowers decision makers with insights they need to drive business outcomes within data-driven analytics.
2. Simplifying web designing with AI virtual assistants
Designing basic layouts and templates of web pages is a tedious job for all developers. AI tools such as virtual assistants like The Grid’s Molly can help here by simplifying the design process. By prompting questions to the user (in this case the web owner or even the developer), and extracting content from their answers, AI assistants can create personalized content with the exact combination of branding, layout, design, and content required by that user. Take Adobe Sensei for instance – it can automatically analyze inputs and recommend design elements to the user. These range from automating basic photo editing skills such as cropping using image recognition techniques to creating elements in images which didn’t exist before by studying the neighbouring pixels.
Developers now need only to focus on training a machine to think and perform like a designer.
3. Redefining web programming with self-learning algorithms
AI can also facilitate programming. AI programs can perform basic tasks like updating and adding records to a database, predict which bits of code are most likely to be used to solve a problem, and then utilize those predictions to prompt developers to adopt a particular solution. An interesting example is Pix2Code that aims at automating front-end development. Infact, AI algorithms can also be utilized to create self-modifying codes right from scratch! Think of it as a fully-functional piece of code without human involvement.
Developers can therefore build smarter apps and bots using AI tech at much faster rates than before. They would however need to train these machines and feed them with good datasets to start with. The smarter the design and more comprehensive the training, the better the results these systems produce. This is where the developers’ skills make a crucial difference.
4. Putting testing and quality assurance on auto-pilot
AI algorithms can help an application test itself, with little or no human input. They can predict the key parameters of software testing processes based on historical data. They can also detect failure patterns and amplify failure prediction at a much higher efficiency than traditional QA approaches. Thus, bug identification and remedial will no longer be a long and slow process. As we speak, Microsoft is readying the release of an AI Bug Finder for developers, Microsoft Security Risk Detection.
In this new AI powered QA environment, developers can discover more effective ways of testing, identify outliers faster, and work on effective code coverage techniques all with no or basic testing experience. In simple terms, developers can just focus on perfecting the build while the AI handles complex test cases and resultant bugs automatically.
5. Harnessing web analytics for SEO with AI
SEO strategies rely heavily on number crunching. Many web analytics tools are good, however their potential is currently limited by the processing capabilities of humans who interpret that data for their websites. With AI backed data mining and analytics, one can maximise the usefulness of a website’s meta-data and other user generated data and metadata. The Predictive Engines built using AI technologies can generate insights which can point the developers to irregularities in their website architecture or highlight ill-fit content from an SEO point of view. Using such insights, AI can list out better ways to design websites and develop web content that connect with the target audience.
Market Brew is one such Artificially Intelligent SEO platform which uses AI to help developers react and plan the content for their websites in ways that search engines might perceive them.
6. Providing superior end-user experience with chatbots
AI powered chatbots can take customer support and interaction to the next level. A simple rule based chatbot responds to only specific preset commands. An AI infused chatbot, on the other hand, can simulate an actual conversation by learning something new from every conversation and tailoring answers and actions accordingly. They can automate routine tasks and provide relevant information and services. Imagine the possibilities here – these chatbots can enhance visitor engagement by responding to queries, to comments on blog posts, and provide real-time assistance and personalization.
eBay’s AI-powered ShopBot is one such chatbot built on facebook messenger which can help consumers narrow down best deals from eBay from their entire listings and answer customer-centric queries.
Skill up Developers!
With the rise of AI, it is clear that developers will play a different role from the traditional role of a programmer-cum-designer. Developers will need to adapt their technical skillsets to rise above and complement the web development work that AI is capable of taking over.
For example, they will now need to focus more on training AI algorithms to learn web and mobile usage patterns for better recommendations. A data-driven approach is now required with more focus on curating the data and taking the software through the process of learning by itself, and writing scripts to interact with the software. To do these, web developers need to get upto speed with the basics of machine learning, natural language processing, deep learning, etc and apply the tools and techniques related to AI into their web development workflow.
The Future Perfect
Artificial Intelligence has found its way into everything imaginable. Within web development this translates to automated web design, intelligent application development, highly proficient recommendation engines and many more.
Today the use of AI in web development is a nice to have ammunition in an web developer’s toolkit. Soon, AI will make itself indispensable to the web development ecosystem ushering in the intelligent web. Developers will be a hybrid of designers, programmers and ML engineers who have a good grasp of user experience, are comfortable thinking in abstracts and algorithms and equally well versed with translating them into AI assisted elegant code .
The next milestone for AI in web development is building self-improving apps which can think beyond the confines of human thought. Such apps would have the ability to perceive connections between data points that have not been previously considered, or are out of the reach of human intelligence. The ultimate goal of such machines, on the web and otherwise, would be to gain clairvoyance on aspects humans are missing or are oblivious to. Here’s hoping that when such a revolutionary AI hits the market, it impacts society for the greater good.