Template-based website builder Wix has announced that soon it’ll let you create entire websites by typing a description into a box and answering a few follow-up questions. Everything, from the design to text and images, will then be automatically generated for you, and from the looks of things, it’ll be pretty fast.
In the past, companies like Wix and WordPress.com have let you create websites using templates you can tweak to your liking. But Wix says its new AI Site Generator feature goes beyond templates, using AI and algorithms to create a “unique” website.
At the moment, the company uses a mix of “out of the box models” such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, and its own tools to accomplish all of this, said Yaara Asaf, Wix’s head of product in an email to The Verge. ChatGPT will handle text creation, with DALL-E and the company’s own AI models doing the rest. If Wix’s new AI site generator works well enough, it could make website building more approachable than it’s ever been.
A video showcases the new feature, starting with “Wix AI” asking what the website will be for. In the video the user writes they want a fitness site and gives some details about what they offer. The chatbot then asks if it should take into account any other details and, in the last step, shows some sample pictures of fitness trainers and asks the user to pick the one that “best represents your desired outcome in terms of style and feel.” The user chooses one and then clicks “Generate Site.”
After that, a bunch of whooshing graphics show that it’s generating the site, and within seemingly seconds, it’s done. To edit, the user opens a prompt window to ask questions about alternative layouts and styles, for instance, and then chooses from the provided options. It’s unclear how similar the actual process will be versus the video—though its almost certainly better than the process that yielded my cursed AOL homepage from the early 2000s.
The resulting website is impressive. It’s perhaps a little generic, but it’s far more professional-looking than anything I’ve ever managed to create using WordPress.com, and it’s in another world entirely from what you could’ve made with Wix 10 years ago. It has fancy overlaying scrolling animations and graphics, image cutouts, and more — all the stuff you’ve come to expect from the fancy, bloated websites of today.
I asked Wix how much direct control you’ll have to customize the site after it’s generated, and Yaara Asaf, Wix’s head of product, said users will have “complete control of every aspect of their site” using the Wix Editor.
Also, while the copy Wix’s AI creates looks good on this hypothetical website, we already know chatbots have trouble with the truth, so it’s hard to know how tedious it’ll be to make sure the details are right on your own site. And if you’re worried that an easy website making tool will lead to lots of quickly made websites full of inappropriate content, Asaf says “[ChatGPT] has an inherent model to prevent inappropriate content generation; we plan to use OpenAI’s moderation.”
With AI companies increasingly targeted in copyright infringement lawsuits, there’s also the question of who’s responsible if someone sues you over a Wix AI-created part of your site? At the very least, content made by Wix’s “Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)” will be the company’s burden to bear, with one page stating that “Wix ADI-generated content, as content provided by Wix is subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights, under local and international law.”
But if OpenAI’s chatbot violates a copyright? Well that’s up to the user. Asaf wrote in the email that “users need to verify the content before publication of their site,” adding that Wix is “opposed to all types of abusive and fraudulent content published on Wix.”
Despite the many outstanding questions it still looks like it has the potential to be a pretty incredible tool. Will Wix’s new AI site generator be used to further fill the web with junk? Oh, probably. But it also has the potential, with friendly enough pricing, to help small businesses and entrepreneurs put a more professional foot forward than they could have otherwise.
Update July 18th, 2023 4:57PM ET: Updated to add details provided by Wix’s head of product.