The way we build and design websites is constantly evolving. In the early days of the internet, creating a website required knowledge of HTML and coding. While some designers still code sites from scratch, the rise of website builders and themes has allowed more people to create professional looking sites without needing to know how to code.
With artificial intelligence and other new technologies coming online, website building is poised to become even easier and more powerful. In this 10,000 word article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how next generation website builders are incorporating new tech like AI, no-code tools and augmented reality to allow anyone to make a beautiful, functional website faster than ever before.
The Current Website Builder Landscape
Before we look into the future, let’s briefly examine the current website builder landscape. For the past decade, WordPress has dominated as the most popular CMS (content management system) and site builder. The open source software powers over 40% of all websites, though the exact number is hard to pin down. WordPress appeals to many users because of its flexibility, wide range of themes/plugins, SEO features and open source community supporting it.
While WordPress powers a large chunk of sites, it does require users to work within the constraints of themes and plugins. For those who want more customization without needing to code, visual website builders like Wix, Squarespace and Webflow offer drag-and-drop editors to customize layouts and design. These builders make it easy for anyone to make a beautiful, modern website through their intuitive interfaces.
However, websites made with these visual builders can sometimes have performance issues or problems with scaling. Visual builders also limit you to that platform, making it hard to migrate your site elsewhere in the future. Other popular options like Shopify focus specifically on ecommerce sites.
Up to this point, most websites have been built as static pages, even if they display dynamic content. When making changes, the owner needs to manually edit HTML or use the site builder’s interface. Next-gen site builders aim to automate more of the process through artificial intelligence and new technologies.
AI-Powered Website Builders
Perhaps the most exciting innovation coming to website builders is the incorporation of artificial intelligence. We’re already seeing some companies leverage AI to help automate and improve certain parts of the website building workflow.
AI has the potential to revolutionize website creation by allowing sites to be built, edited, and optimized quickly with little-to-no manual effort. Some ways AI can help include:
Automated Site Design
In the future, AI will be able to analyze reference sites and examples of preferred styles to design a custom layout and template. Instead of picking a pre-made theme, the AI can generate a unique design matching your brand style.
The AI could ask about color scheme preferences, desired layouts, imagery and fonts to quickly iterate and produce website drafts for approval. For those without creative direction skills, it will enable quick creation of unique, competent website designs.
Intelligent Content Creation
Copywriting and creating quality website content takes a lot of time and skill, especially for complex topics. AI content generation tools like Copy.ai are already being used to generate blog posts, social media captions and other marketing content.
Next-gen site builders could utilize similar AI to develop page titles, descriptions and blog posts by analyzing subject matter recommendations. Instead of manually writing each page of copy, AI can instantly generate draft content for approval that hits key points.
SEO & Accessibility Optimization
Properly optimizing websites for search engines and accessibility standards also takes specialized knowledge and can be time consuming. AI tools are being developed that can analyze site content and infrastructure to improve SEO and accessibility factors like metadata, alt text, headings structure and more.
This AI assistant can automatically optimize pages and site-wide elements for higher search rankings and compliance with web accessibility guidelines. Not only will it improve SEO and compliance, but AI tools will also explain the changes made and teach best practices.
Personalization & Recommendations
Understanding how visitors interact with your site is key for maximizing conversions and engagement. AI can track visitor behavior to segment audiences and deliver personalized page content, like dynamically changing calls to action or messaging for particular demographics.
It can also recommend related products, page suggestions, or upsell opportunities based on each user and their browsing history. AI-driven personalization and recommendations create more relevant, compelling experiences.
Continuous Iteration & Testing
The benefit of AI-powered creation is that it allows constant iteration and improvement. Site design, content and structure can be regularly updated and refined based on the latest trends and performance metrics.
The AI can A/B test variations of pages to determine which titles, layouts and content perform best. It will continuously generate and test new iterations to maximize conversions, traffic, and engagement. This allows the website to rapidly evolve and improve.
These are just some of the ways AI assistant technology can automate and enhance website creation. Users describe their desired site goals, content topics and styles they like to kick off the AI-powered building process. The AI handles the busy work of designing, writing content, optimizing, personalizing and testing so the site owner can focus on higher value business goals.
Augmented Reality & Interactive Content
Another emerging technology that may shape future website building is augmented reality. AR overlays digital information over the real world through smartphone cameras and other devices. Some web builders are incorporating AR features into sites, such as:
3D Interactive Product Visualization
Allowing users to view 3D models of a product through AR provides a more interactive shopping experience. Instructions can guide users to scan product barcodes or QR codes on packaging to launch 3D models that can be viewed from all angles. They can even place the 3D model into real world settings. These interactive AR previews drive more engagement and conversions than static photos.
Many beauty, fashion and accessory brands now offer virtual try-on tools powered by AR. Users can see makeup applied to their face or try on clothes virtually. Virtual try-on eliminates doubts about whether that lipstick shade or shirt style will actually look good. Users feel confident buying the items knowing they already “tried” it.
Immersive Store & Brand Experiences
AR is able to bring the in-store experience to websites through virtual walkthroughs, 3D product previews and immersive brand content. Ikea’s website helps visualize furniture in the home with AR tools. Sephora uses AR AI to provide personalized makeup recommendations. These immersive experiences increase engagement on site.
Interactive Directions & Assistance
AR wayfinders, store maps and interactive instructions create a better customer experience for locations. Brands can include augmented reality navigation on their sites so users can find exactly where they need to go. Retailers can highlight relevant products and deals based on the user’s location in store.
These types of AR experiences were previously difficult to implement, often requiring custom mobile apps and development work. New website building platforms aim to provide AR creation tools for easy interactive content development without needing advanced coding skills.
While still in early stages, AR-enabled sites provide a glimpse into a more immersive and personalized web. As AR technology and adoption increases, businesses may find added value in implementing AR experiences through their websites.
No-Code Site Building
A growing movement in the web development world is the push for no-code website building solutions. No-code platforms utilize a visual builder and pre-built components that can be added with configuration instead of manual coding. Examples of popular no-code tools include Bubble, Webflow and Stacker.
Up until now, creating advanced interactive features like user logins, role permissions, databases, payment integrations, contact forms and more required some coding work. No-code site builders streamline complex infrastructure through configurable components and automation.
Benefits of no-code website building include:
By utilizing reusable elements that only need configuring, no-code platforms speed up development 10x or more. What used to take weeks of work can now be built in hours or days in some cases.
No-code opens up web development to new demographics who don’t have coding skills. Marketers, SMB owners, entrepreneurs and others can now create the sites they envision.
While no-code isn’t going to replace developers, it does allow those with coding skills to work faster and spend time on complex logic. No-code solutions also provide interface building and PM experience to devs.
Maintenance & Iteration
With no-code sites, it’s easy for owners to manage and edit sites without needing a developer. Changes, new features and updates can be added through the visual builder. No more waiting or costs for developer time.
Many no-code platforms offer the ability to build web apps and sites that can scale to millions of users. No need to redevelop if your user base or feature needs grow.
A major consideration with no-code site builders is being locked into a specific platform, unlike open source solutions like WordPress. However as no-code matures, portability and migration options will improve. Overall, no-code solutions provide flexibility and speed that is critical in the fast-moving digital landscape.
Site Hosting & Management Innovations
In addition to new site building technologies, we’ll also see innovation in how websites are deployed, hosted and managed down the road. A few possibilities for the future include:
AI-Assisted Hosting & DevOps
Hosting platforms and DevOps tools will utilize artificial intelligence to better monitor, analyze and optimize performance. AI can proactively notice potential issues and anomalies faster than manual monitoring. It can help diagnose problems and automatically resolve common fixes without the site owner needing to step in.
AI-assisted hosting can also observe traffic and behavior patterns to recommend optimizations like scaling infrastructure or CDN caching rules. AI-driven insights improve uptime and deliver optimal experiences.
Jamstack sites remove vulnerabilities of dynamic sites by serving static files while still allowing dynamic functionality. They can leverage serverless functions for backends needs. Jamstack architecture is growing in adoption thanks to its speed, simplicity and resilience.
Automated Build & Deployment Pipelines
Modern web development requires implementing CI/CD (continuous integration / continuous deployment) pipelines to automate testing and deployment processes. As builds are created, automated pipelines run unit, integration and end-to-end tests to validate new code before automatically deploying changes out.
Developers are now applying similar CI/CD principles to infrastructure configuration and management. Tools like Terraform allow templatizing infrastructure as code that can be version controlled. Automated deployments handle provisioning hosting, databases, caching, DNS and all other infrastructure needs.
Automated pipelines minimize errors and speed up development by codifying environments. They allow seamless scaling and iteration of infrastructure.
Microservices & APIs
The move towards microservices and API-driven architectures also increases development speed and flexibility. Instead of large, monolithic codebases, services are broken into independently maintained and deployed microservices that connect through APIs.
This allows different services to use the optimal language, framework and infrastructure. Microservices can individually scale as needed instead of forcing everything to scale together. Deployments and updates are decoupled. Microservices will enable more agile, resilient website architectures.
How Next-Gen Builders Lower Barriers to Entry
A key theme across many of these innovations is lowering barriers to creating professional digital experiences. Small businesses and individuals can now build the kinds of sites that previously required large teams and budgets. Some examples include:
As covered earlier, AI-powered personalization and recommendations deliver tailored experiences to each user that drive engagement. Previously difficult to implement, these advances allow all sites to feel personalized.
No longer limited to pre-made templates and themes, AI site builders allow custom visual design generation tailored to specified preferences and styles. Good design is no longer gated for those with budgets and skills.
Automating SEO & Accessibility
Optimizing for search engines and accessibility standards is now handled automatically by AI tools. Site owners no longer need expertise in technical SEO or web development best practices. It’s automated.
Any type of dynamic feature from user logins to payment systems to databases and more can be added through no-code components. No longer reserved only for developers, these pro-level features are available to anyone.
Between AI-assisted management and no-code site editing capabilities, sites can easily be kept updated and optimized without continuously needing to hire developers. Sites become more self-sufficient.
Accelerating Speed to Market
With how rapidly business and trends change today, the ability to quickly adapt and launch sites is critical. Next-gen solutions empower rapid iteration and implementation at any scale.
When creating digital experiences becomes fast, easy and accessible, it unlocks new opportunities. More small businesses can build their brand online. Startups and communities can establish an effective presence. Individuals can promote their work. Overall, it leads to a more inclusive and diverse web.
Challenges Facing Adoption of Next-Gen Site Builders
While next-gen website builders have significant disruptive potential, they also face challenges and barriers to mainstream adoption:
Some companies may view AI site builders as too new or unproven, especially for business-critical sites handling ecommerce or other complex needs. The perception needs to shift to seeing AI builders as faster and more effective than manual building.
Migrating an existing site and content to AI builders won’t be seamless. Many sites will likely maintain their current platform and gradually shift to next-gen over time rather than an immediate switch. Gradual migration may slow mainstream adoption.
Platform Lock-in Concerns
Relying so heavily on a proprietary AI builder’s unique capabilities could lead to difficulties migrating away to other platforms. But as competition emerges, portability options will expand.
While AI builders handle much automatically, they still may not provide the same level of pixel-level customization as raw HTML/CSS editing. As the AI learns over time, personalization capabilities will improve.
Initial Cost Investment
The high computational power needed for advanced AI generation and automation won’t come cheap. Many next-gen solutions may have high costs, slowing uptake from smaller organizations with tighter budgets. But over time costs will decrease.
Potential Security Risks
Granting an AI builder access to your data, infrastructure and accounts could pose potential security risks if not properly implemented. Proper authentication and authorization scopes will need to be followed to avoid vulnerabilities.
Despite some challenges, next-gen site builders appear poised to disrupt the web industry. Their benefits outweigh short-term adoption obstacles.
The Bottom Line
Website building is undergoing a renaissance as new technologies open up possibilities that simply weren’t feasible just a few years ago. AI automation, no-code tools, AR content and other innovations will empower both professional developers and regular users to build sophisticated sites faster than ever before.
Next-gen site builders lower barriers to creating beautiful, functional digital experiences. In the coming years, expect incredible progress. Tasks that used to require specialized knowledge and months of work will soon be achievable in just minutes or hours.
While the internet has connected the world, creating a presence on the web has remained gated for many. But that is beginning to change as next-gen solutions democratize site building. They will enable anyone to make sites capable of competing with the biggest brands and developers.
In short, get ready for a new era of creativity and opportunity as AI and no-code website builders reshape what’s possible. The future of building online looks very bright indeed!