AI-powered accessibility, automation, and the future of UX

author image
by Momchil

85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2025? * That's the power of AI transforming how we interact with websites and apps.

(Source: Gartner)

Just a few years ago, the idea of a computer program designing a website seemed like science fiction. Yet today, AI tools can create entire layouts, suggest color palettes, and even write basic code. It's a thrilling time to be a designer, but it also means those who don't adapt will get left behind. In this article, we'll explore the ways AI is changing interfaces and what it means for the accessibility and future of our craft.

AI: Your Design Sidekick, Not Your Replacement

Let's be clear: AI is not here to steal designers' jobs. Instead, think of these tools as powerful sidekicks, ready to handle tedious tasks and offer fresh inspiration. While AI can generate ideas in seconds, it's still up to us, the designers, to guide the direction, curate the best results, and ensure everything serves our users' needs. It's the uniquely human skills like empathy, problem-solving, and understanding context that will set designers apart in an AI-filled landscape.

Beyond the Screen: What the Future Holds

As AI gets smarter, the ways we interact with technology are bound to shift. We can anticipate the rise of conversational interfaces, where voice commands and natural language replace buttons and menus. Imagine AI not just designing these interfaces, but understanding how we speak and adjusting experiences in real-time. This could be a major leap forward for accessibility.

Automation: When AI "Writes" Code

One area where AI is dramatically changing UI design is at the code level. Tools can increasingly translate designs into working code or analyze designs to optimize for performance. This doesn't eliminate the need for frontend developers, but it frees designers from certain time-consuming tasks, allowing for more experimentation and focus on the big picture.

Accessibility as Core, Not an Afterthought

AI has tremendous power to make interfaces more accessible to all users. AI tools can analyze designs, flag potential issues with color contrast or screen-reader compatibility, and even suggest improved alt-text for images. The dream is an internet where accessibility isn't something we try to fix later but integrated into the design process from the very start.

The Right Mindset: Embracing AI with Curiosity

It's natural to feel a mix of excitement and uncertainty when facing this level of change. The key is shifting our mindset from fear to curiosity. Designers who actively experiment with AI tools, such as [insert 1-2 tool names for example: DALL-E, Midjourney], learn their strengths and weaknesses, and will be the ones who lead the way into this new era.

Brainstorming the Future Look of Websites

Let's take a moment to imagine what websites could look like as AI technology becomes even more sophisticated.

  • Near Future Possibilities:

    • Truly personalized experiences. AI analyzing user behavior to adapt layouts, content, and even color schemes in real-time.

    • Conversational interfaces as the norm. Websites we can have natural conversations with and get immediate results.

    • Increased emphasis on 3D elements and even integration with virtual or augmented reality for immersive experiences.

  • Far Future Speculation:

    • Could websites exist beyond traditional screens altogether? AI interpreting and responding to our thoughts or emotions for a tailored experience.

    • Websites that become proactive partners, anticipating our needs before we even voice them.

Accessibility: AI as a Force for Good

AI has the potential to break down barriers in web design. Consider these possibilities:

  • Proactive Accessibility: AI tools can flag potential accessibility issues during the design process, catching problems early.

  • Enhanced Image Descriptions: More nuanced and descriptive alt-text generated by AI, especially for complex images or infographics.

  • AI-Powered Translations: Breaking down language barriers, making websites accessible to a global audience.

Let's Get Specific

This article was created by a creative collaboration between UX designer, copywriter, and AI. In future articles, we'll delve deeper into concrete examples of these concepts, review specific AI tools, and discuss how to develop your own "AI fluency" in the design field.