What is an AI website builder?

A digital face in profile against a digital background.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ryzhi)

If you’re a working professional or small business looking to build an online presence, the best AI website builders can help you get it all up and running very quickly. 

Instead of relying on professional developers to code your website from scratch, or even using a drag-and-drop platform to build it out visually, you could generate your entire website with a single prompt using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Of course, you can always customize it later if the initial results don’t suit your taste. 

But how does it actually come together? If you’re wondering how AI website builders work, what you could gain from actually using one, or how the experience differs from a standard website building tool, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know.

Why use AI to build a website?

If there’s one thing AI is really good at, it's lowering the barrier to entry for technical skills and savvy and gives insight on a lot of insider knowledge. 

The best website builders that leverage AI are no different. Before AI, the only way to avoid hiring a web developer to design your website from scratch was to use a no-code platform to manually build one yourself. This typically involved a considerable time investment arranging pre-made blocks or editing pre-made templates to meet your needs. But even though you didn’t have to code, most no-code platforms still require you to have a basic knowledge of UI design principles just to get started. But with AI, the process is easier and much faster. 

With most AI website builders, all you have to do to get started is answer a few simple questions. The AI then works to create a bespoke website, tailored to your answers. This is a fairly good starting point for your new website. Although you could use the AI results as-is, in almost every case, at least a level of editing will be required. However, this typically involves far less editing than building a website from scratch or even starting with a template. 

In the early days of no-code website builders, platforms would regularly promise that you could have a website up and running in minutes. While that was technically true, building a functional website always took anywhere between a few hours to a few weeks of time. With AI, that vision can finally be a reality.

What is an AI website builder?

AI website builders are platforms that use technologies like large language models (LLMs), optical character recognition (OCR), and machine learning (ML) to automate the process of coding and designing a website. 

With AI, the goal is to make the website building process easier, faster, and more accessible for non-technical users. As the technology improves, AI website builders are becoming increasingly sophisticated and powerful, offering users more automation options and granular control over the design process.

A few examples of good AI website builders include the Wix AI website builder, Zyro, Durable, and 10Web. Each brings unique features to the table, like text-prompted website generation, intelligent SEO, AI-powered image generation, and integrations. 

How do AI website builders work?

On a basic level, AI website builders work by gathering information about a user's needs, preferences, and goals which are then used to create a prompt that a large language model uses to interpret what the users wants. The model then selects a HTML template and modifies parts based on those needs, such as colour, size, layout, and functionality.

Language models are not skilled enough yet to completely create a website from scratch without a bit of handholding or troubleshooting so using a template that is highly configurable allows for individual and tailored websites without the risk of generating something that doesn't work as expected that you can't fix.  

Here's a closer look at how these components work together:

  • Natural language processing powered by language models enables machines to interpret user inputs, allowing for more natural, conversational interactions during the website creation process. This technology also powers features like AI-generated content and chatbots.
  • Models trained by using deep and machine learning AI can be used to identify themes and characteristics of images and then generative AI can be used to create images in those styles and themes that complement a brand's aesthetic
  • Models trained on vast datasets of existing websites and design best practices, continuously improve the AI's ability to generate effective, visually appealing websites that adhere to modern web standards.

How much do AI website builders cost?

A big selling point for AI website builders is the cost associated with developing and maintaining a website. While most AI platforms are subscription-based, they still enable you to design fully-functioning websites at a fraction of the cost involved with hiring a freelance developer or an agency, which can cost several thousands of dollars at a time.

Compared to that, AI website builders usually offer premium plans beginning at $12-16 a month, depending on the features you’re looking for. If you’re an enterprise user looking for large-scale deployments across the organization, you still wouldn’t have to part with more than $150/month.

Keep in mind that these plans also come with packaged hosting, domain name registration, ongoing maintenance updates, and premium support that you may be missing out on in any one-time agency or developer engagement.

What are AI website builders? Summary

It is clear that AI website builders are an exciting addition to the website building market, offering significant opportunities to save both time and money when creating your website. On the downside, most AI website builders aren’t yet advanced enough to create a fully populated site without the need to carry out at least a level of editing to bring it inline with your needs. 

What exactly is an AI website builder? FAQ

Can you customize AI websites with custom code?

AI website builders usually allow for some level of customization using their visual editors, letting you modify designs, layouts, colors, fonts, and content. 

However, the ability to add fully custom code varies. Some platforms may restrict direct code access to preserve the integrity of the AI-generated framework. Others provide options to inject custom HTML, CSS or JavaScript in specific areas. In fact, some website builders even offer AI-powered tools that can help you create custom code, providing ultimate flexibility over your website. 

How do AI website builders handle security and privacy?

AI website builders typically employ standard security measures like SSL encryption, regular backups, and DDoS protection. Many handle most core security and maintenance tasks automatically without supervision. 

However, as with any tool that collects user data to train its models, it's important to review the builder's specific data handling and privacy policies. Reputable platforms should operate in compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR.

Does an AI website builder optimize for SEO standards?

Yes, many AI website builders have built-in SEO tools and guides. They often generate sitemaps, provide prompts for optimizing meta tags, and even use SEO-friendly URL structures. Some AI builders even offer keyword suggestions and automated content optimization for search engines.

How accessible is an AI website builder?

Many builders aim to generate sites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by default, such as using adequate color contrast and including alt text for images. However, the level of accessibility can vary.

It's always best to manually review the final site and make adjustments to ensure it accommodates all users, such as adding skip navigation links and testing with different types of assistive technologies.

What kind of integrations do AI website builders support?

AI website builders often support integrations with common third-party services, especially in areas like:

  • Analytics (e.g. Google Analytics)
  • Marketing and CRM (e.g. Mailchimp, HubSpot)
  • Ecommerce (e.g. Shopify, PayPal)
  • Social media (e.g. embedded feeds, share buttons)
  • Forms and data capture (e.g. Typeform, Google Sheets)

The specific integrations available will depend on the builder, but most aim to connect with popular tools to extend the site's functionality. Some builders also offer AI-powered chatbot and live chat integrations.

Ritoban Mukherjee

Ritoban Mukherjee is a freelance journalist from West Bengal, India. His work has been published on Tom's Guide, TechRadar, Creative Bloq, IT Pro Portal, Gizmodo, Medium, and Mental Floss. Ritoban is also a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

With contributions from