Web development is usually associated with website design, but in fact, it is involved in nearly any modern software product. With the prevalence of cloud computing and the popularity of delivering the client that works in the web browser, including a web design component is common. The web design is also a final step in the UX design when the web developer needs to apply all the fancy wireframes and deliver a working web service.
Being an interdisciplinary and sophisticated field on the edge of UX design, graphic design, and coding, web development seems hard to be augmented or automated in any viable way. One of the ways is to use an automated generator similar to Wix or Webwave, but there are multiple concerns regarding SEO optimization or the limited abilities of this type of tool.
Apparently, one of the most promising ways to augment the web developers’ struggle and web development itself is artificial intelligence and the future is in AI-based web development.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is commonly seen as a tech giant's plaything or a startup fixation, that requires gargantuan amounts of data to deliver results. Also, the technologies behind that can be seen as mysterious and foggy - no one knows exactly how a particular neural network is making its decisions.
What’s more, popular culture serves multiple interpretations and visions of the artificial intelligence-dominated future. Visions vary from apocalyptic to dystopian with little to no optimistic vision. But the engineer behind the modern AI-powered solution clearly sees that AI and Machine Learning is nothing but the next tool to use, no more magical, mysterious or malicious than the creator wills it to be, with all the limitations of a computer program.
The most popular paradigm in modern AI is machine learning - the technique of teaching the computer to perform a certain task, not by writing code, but by delivering an algorithm and the data it can consume to learn about the desired outcome.
Machine vision serves as a good example - after chewing a thousand images of cats, the program is able to recognize a cat in the photograph. But this is just one example - the whole idea of teaching the computer to perform tasks instead of delivering hardcoded yes-no instructions is revolutionary, as it enables the machines to tackle problems unsolvable for them before.
The impact of artificial intelligence is already visible in the business world. Gartner estimates that up to 80% of emerging technologies will have AI foundations by 2020. By now, over one-third (37% to be precise) of organizations already have implemented AI in some form.
How to apply Machine Learning in software development?
But there is a significant difference between the consulting-produced statistics or reports, and the real business is done day-by-day in countless companies around the world. Including the one you are working in or owning. So going straight to the point, how can this innovative technology support web development?
1. Customer behavior analytics
That’s where artificial intelligence shines - analyzing the customers' behavior and delivering automated and meaningful reports to better serve the company’s needs. The AI-powered tools can dig through the data deep enough to uncover insights that would have been easy to overlook even by the most skilled and experienced human analysts. The challenge is not only in the increasing amount of data to process but in the complexity of processes to analyze.
With the AI-powered tools, web developers will get the full information about the users’ habits and expectations regarding the service. Also, AI-powered analytics delivers information significantly faster - even in real-time.
Also, the analytics software can discover patterns in the behavior to harness and leverage in daily operations. Examples are countless, depending on the industry, the size of the website, and the sales funnel to support the website.
Key takeaway: in the data-heavy age building the website is a yet-another activity that needs to be supported by extensive research before even the first line of code had been written. Automated data harvesting and reporting is significant support in the web developers' and web designers' work - they get the information about the target group faster. AI software development at its best.
2. Automating tasks given to developers
Coding is undoubtedly a creative work. But apart from delivering shining technology and solutions, it is full of repetitive, dull, and usually just boring tasks that need to be done in order to deliver the project - but none of the developers like these tasks.
Sometimes it is about delivering a code block or improving the quality of the solution. Other times it is about finding some minor tweaks to apply into the system to boost the performance or the quality of the product. Looking for a piece of code that is slowing the service or causes the software crash. Modern software development kits automate these functions to a degree, yet the real revolution is yet to come.
Key takeaway: AI-powered software development kits and environments are just around the corner. There are AI-powered automatic suggestion engines (for example Tabnine) that, according to users in Ideamotive, significantly boost the speed of coding. The technology will boost the coder’s productivity and reduce the time required to deliver the project. In the long term, it is possible not only to support developers but also designing the service to better fit the company’s needs.
AI-Based Autocompleter Tool
3. Automated testing and quality assurance
Last but not least, there is an endless pain of testing and quality assurance, probably the most frustrating and tedious element of any software project given. Quality assurance can not only drain all the joy from even the most exciting project but also is probably never done good enough. It is common to find some glitches and mistakes even in the top-notch games and leading business software - not to name the critical vulnerabilities in Windows or key protocols that surface from time to time.
Automated, AI-powered testing will not make all the existing software flawless nor will eliminate the need to assign the QA team to check every new piece. But reducing the time required to perform basic tests enables the team to hunt for more sophisticated and hidden bugs. When it comes to games it will end with a better, more immersive, and comprehensive experience. In business software, it will end with more reliable platforms that come with fewer crashes and more value for money.
Key takeaway: there are few things more annoying than bug-hunting, especially in large services with sophisticated frontend and supporting complicated operations. Publishing the software without extensive testing is a business suicide resulting in a massed customer outrage. On the other hand - elongated tests delay the delivery and result in well… customer outrage. AI can significantly support the process.
4. On-the-go web improvements
Artificial intelligence is not only capable of processing gargantuan amounts of data - but it also does it fast. Fast enough in fact to deliver the real-time answers for multiple questions. In the case of web development, those questions are usually optimization and UX-related. Sample ones can be:
- What is the color that fits the visitor’s tastes the most?
- What categories is the visitor searching for?
- Which elements of the webpage annoy him or her?
- How to maximize the conversion from this single visitor? Be that a one-time buyer or a potential long-term customer?
The possibilities are countless, as there are infinite ways one can optimize the UX and conversions. The point is that all the job is automated and done in real-time.
Key takeaway: all the madness around the A/B testing and endless optimization can be augmented and improved with machine learning-based techniques. Delivering the AI-powered framework that builds the desired website or service on the go is probably only a matter of time.
ABtesting.ai is one of the many tools that offer this kind of service
One of the hottest AI trends 2020 and the obvious pick when it comes to web development. A chatbot significantly augments the user experience delivered by the website and the company at all. Chatbots are automated assistants that harness the power of natural language processing to deliver answers desired by customers and interact with them in a more natural way.
Usually, a chatbot is intended to answer the most common and repetitive questions regarding the business of the owner. So cinemas use chatbots to inform customers about available tickets or opening hours. Services like a hairstylist or a dentist can use the chatbot to automate booking. In fact, healthcare, finance, education, travel, and the real estate industries are benefiting the most from using chatbots. One of the winners of the chatbot-related revolution is Facebook - according to Venture Beat, there are more than 300,000 active chatbots there, waiting to augment and support customer relations and customer service.
Key takeaway - the web designer needs to think about incorporating the chatbot in the early stage of the website development. Due to the increasing role of technology in online services, designing a new website without it can result in non-optimal processes and the need for redesign in the near future.
Web development is a challenging piece of the digital world, taking care of the component every one of us faces every day. When done properly, it delivers outstanding results, with high conversions, great ROI, and breathtaking performance combined with even more delighting visuals.
On the other hand, even the greatest company is crippled when web development is not good enough to support marketing efforts. AI is ready to support the web development efforts now, with even a greater perspective of development in the upcoming future.
Do you think you see a way to apply anything you learned from this article in your company? That’s cool! Our experts are battle-tested with hands-on experience in delivering similar solutions. Contact us and we will build something great together!