Can the White Whale of Web Design Finally be Caught by AI?

March 26, 2023

Since the dawn of the web design the white whale of building websites has been a tool that enables non-technical users to create simple websites for the public without coders. With the advent of GPT-4 and demos of it making websites from napkins, it is time to ask whether we have finally caught this white whale.

Why It Matters

The ability to inexpensively build and update websites without software engineers can save businesses lots of money and empower more individuals to share their content on the web.

What’s Been Tried So Far

  • Microsoft FrontPage in 1995 along with Dreamweaver.
  • Wordpress & Drupal CMS Platforms
  • Squarespace
  • Google Documents
  • Webflow & Similar No Code Platforms
  • Notion

Why We Keep Failing at This

I learned to use Microsoft FrontPage in high school and it worked perfectly fine. This has been a solved problem. So why do we keep trying to solve it? Web technology continues to evolve. As the capability of web browsers increases, the desire to use those features by end users does, and these tools have to keep up. Eventually their simplicity dies by a thousand cuts as they work to meet the needs of their sophisticated and highest paying users. In 2023 you can spend as much on Wordpress or AirTable consultants as you might on regular software engineers.

Enter the Prompt Engineer

Axios reports that experts believe we will need skilled human operators to effectively use AI. We will have to figure out what to ask the AI for and how to ask that in order to get what we want. As we see cases where it fails, the durability of AI as an abstraction feels fragile. The best prompt engineers may start to find AI to be more of a hinderance than help.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.