Plans were announced Monday to launch a new AI website generator that promises to accelerate the ability of e-commerce operators to create an online presence.
Created by Wix, AI Site Generator will be launched with a suite of AI-powered tools that the company says will streamline the entire website-building, design, and management process.
“Often the issue with website projects is the inability of the client or the website expert to adequately communicate and understand the project,” explained Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm, in Bend, Ore.
“This takes the expert out of the mix and gives the user control of the process, which can result in a faster, cheaper path to getting the website done,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
Eric Lessman, co-founder of Bluecap, a website design firm in Joplin, Mo., agreed that the Wix AI Site Generator could improve a business’s ability to bring a website to its market faster.
“And hopefully with a better end result than a templated solution such as WordPress or Shopify,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
“Seeing is believing, and a lot of businesses get hung up in the planning phase of a project,” he continued. “Being able to see a website that closely aligns with your thoughts, all from only answering prompts, is a major win for a lot of businesses by aiding in them in conceptualizing a viable MVP.”
MVP, or minimum viable product, is a product with the most basic features that early adopters can use to test an idea, gather customer feedback, and validate a concept to determine if there is a market for it before investing in full-fledged development.
Importance of Customization
When released, AI Site Generator will enable Wix users to describe their intent and instantly generate a professional and unique website.
The tailor-made website will include a homepage and all inner pages with text, images, and any business solution, such as stores, bookings, restaurants, events, and more. Users can continue to customize the site and edit based on their needs with integrated AI tools.
Customization is an integral part of automation applications like AI Site Generator. “Customization can make or break how long people or businesses will stay with a platform,” Lessman said. “E-commerce solutions will require customization and expansion as a business grows.”
Customization is vital to creating a website that aligns with a brand and engages customers, added Drew Mansur, co-founder and director of TileCloud, an online-first tile store.
“Having control over the design, layout, and user experience allows you to create a unique online presence that resonates with your target audience,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
“I can imagine how AI-powered website generation can help businesses achieve that without manual coding and design work, saving time and effort,” he added.
“If we were to use AI Site Generator for TileCloud,” he continued, “we’d need it to enable us to tailor the website to align with our business goals, target audience, and industry requirements.”
Bevy of AI Tools
In addition to AI Site Generator, Wix will also be introducing to its platform:
- An AI assistant tool that will suggest improvements for businesses and create individualized strategies based on analytics and site trends, as well as streamline day-to-day tasks;
- An AI page and section creator that will automatically generate the layout, design, and text of new website pages or sections based on prompts from a user; and
- An object eraser that can extract subjects from images and manipulate them seamlessly.
Wix will add those new features to a platform already bristling with AI tools. They include:
- An AI text creator that combines Wix’s knowledge of site creation with ChatGPT to give users the ability to generate personalized content for particular sections of a website, including tailored titles, taglines, and paragraphs;
- AI template text creator which, after a template is chosen and a prompt briefly describing the website site is written, can produce the text for the entire site, including the home page and inner pages;
- An AI domain generator to help users choose the perfect name for their brand by creating a list of potential domain names; and
- An AI image creator that generates images based on descriptions provided by a user.
Small Business Woes
The Wix offerings can be very appealing to small businesses still struggling with their online presence.
According to a 2022 survey of 1,003 small businesses conducted by Top Design Firms, a resource for finding creative agencies, more than a quarter of small businesses (27%) don’t have a website. Those that do cite their major challenges as low traffic, adding advanced functionality, and the costs of building and maintaining a website.
“Developing an effective e-commerce website can be challenging for small businesses — like we were — due to limited resources, technical expertise, and budget constraints,” observed Mansur.
Enderle agreed that e-commerce expertise can be a problem with small businesses. “The small business owner often doesn’t understand the technology and hasn’t fully thought out what their needs and requirements are,” he observed.
The e-commerce challenges for a small business can also vary wildly, depending on what it wants to sell online, Lessman added.
“The more complex a product is, or the more types of products you have that require being sold in a different way, will all require additional setup and configuration,” he explained.
“Then there’s process management after the sale,” he continued. “Where will inventory and financial reporting take place? Payment processing? Email campaigns? Transactional emails? User account issues? There is a lot to take into consideration.”
“Then there’s management,” he added. “Once it’s built, whose responsibility is it? Whom do you go to if part of the sales process stops working? Sometimes the answers to these questions aren’t quite so apparent.”
Intelligent Website Development
Lessman noted that integrating AI into e-commerce sites will give operators finer control over the development of their sites and allow them to integrate content better.
It can also improve schema markup.
“Most tools forget about this, but it’s a major boon for SEO when e-commerce sites have a well-thought-out and properly implemented schema markup on all their relevant pages,” he explained.
As AI technology continues to evolve, Mansur noted, it holds the potential to enhance automation in website development by generating intelligent design suggestions, improving user experience, and streamlining content creation.
“The new AI developments promise to offer more efficient and intuitive solutions compared to previous automation efforts,” he said.
“Current generative AI platforms are far more capable of taking into account past experiences to improve the outcome of current experiences,” Enderle added. “Prior tools didn’t learn by doing. AI does. That means the tool will advance far more quickly and generally be better out of the box than older automation technologies.”