"I see only good stuff in AI", says Wix's Yaara Asaf

Yaara Asaf from Wix headshot - lady in a orange t-shirt
(Image credit: Yaara Asaf)

Wix is known for its easy to use drag and drop website building platform, but what you might not know is that the company's at the forefront of AI – it has been using the tech to enhance its platform for several years now.

To find out more about how AI has improved Wix's offering, and discuss the state of AI in web design in general – including whether or not AI really is coming for your job – I sat down with Yaara Asaf, head of product at Wix Editor. 

For more on Wix, see our piece on the new Wix Studio, as well as our best website builders for businesses guide (in which Wix is number one).

Tell me about AI and Wix

The first feature with OpenAI we introduced was the AI Text Creator. We launched it because we wanted to solve a real user's problem when it comes to creating high quality content for websites. And we knew that one of the things our users are struggling with is creating textual content. We actually launched this feature in parallel to ChatGPT going public. So we kind of introduced this feature even before the world knew what ChatGPT was.

In November, we launched it as an alpha feature, and then we expanded it to beta users and continued with a gradual roll out. We really saw that this feature brings value to our users and they implement the content that the AI Text Creator suggested to them. This feature boosts their creation process and helps them ultimately publish their website, which is what we were aiming for. 

And when we saw this part was working, we took the same concept and we said, if we can help users create specific text like creative taglines, let's do it for a full website. And then we introduced the AI Template Text Creator. This was launched quite recently. It allows users to select Wix templates and based on a few prompts and the specific inputs, you can now create the full text for the template based on the specific business that the user is trying to create a website for, within seconds. 

What about images?

In parallel, we launched the same concept for images. Users can create images with AI as part of the Wix platform without going into other products or directly to DALL-E or other other visual models. Users can even just take existing images and upload them to the platform and perform editing actions using AI.

They have magic features like removing background, or enhancing the images and there will be more to come.

What's been the reception to these AI features?

We are investing a lot into making sure that the AI features we release have value for our users. We aim to provide the best quality, which means that when we launch a feature, you can be sure that we did the best that we could in order to give users the best possible results.

Is your AI ethical?

If you're talking specifically about images, for example, we're using an external model, which is currently DALL-E by OpenAI. So effectively we're consuming an external model and this is why from a legal perspective, we kind of fall in the same place as everyone using DALLL-E – we have the same ethical environment.

And also, OpenAI has their own out of the box solutions for moderation and making sure that the content is safe, and all that, so that's the kind of thing that we're getting when we're using their platform. 

How is AI changing web design in general?

I don't know what the future holds but I see only good stuff in AI because I think that everything that makes web design and development easier is positive.

I also think it might change the interfaces that people use. Interacting with chatbots is not trivial. Not every person in the world, at least before ChatGPT, preferred to have a conversation with a digital product. But I think there is also a shift in the way users and people in the world will interact with platforms. So it's not specifically about web design, I think it's bigger than that. 

AI is changing Wix, that's true, because it's changing the world and we're a part of it. As a product company, we always want to develop solutions that help our users solve their problems, and AI is enabling us to do this better and faster.

Are there any areas where Wix wouldn't use AI?

I can't think of an example where we said, 'no, that's not a place to use AI' because we're very problems driven and the technology is secondary to the problem. If the technology solves the problem, and is the best solution, that's what we would do. 

How do you think AI will change in the next 5 years?

In the past six months, we already had, I think, three or four different models coming from ChatGPT, and ever model is better at what it does than the previous model. Judging by that, I would say that probably it will keep on expanding and we will probably see more and more things that ChatGPT kind of models can solve. It's a scary question, I have to admit. I hope we won't see any negative things coming with the evolution of AI, but I have to say that I'm very optimistic about it. 

Is AI taking people's jobs?

I think that designers and content creators have much more added value [as they're able] to create the most beautiful designs and content out there compared to AI, so I think that this is very far from happening. Never say never... but for now, it's a hard no. 

I do think that those roles are being adapted to a world with AI so now designers, who had certain tools that they were working with, now also have AI tools in their toolbox. They might have different ways of doing stuff but it's not close to replacing anyone.

What would you say to someone who says that your site generator is like a step too farI?

I would say that we already have a site generator in Wix AI base, the ADI, that stands for Artificial Design intelligence, and we launched it in 2016. So I would say that there is no real difference with the Site Generator other than the technology behind it because eventually the goal of this product is to help you create the best site that you can create. So there's nothing to be afraid of. There is no new, malicious thing in our product. We want to have a good impact on people, and we truly believe that AI can help us reach that goal. 

What's next for Wix?

The next big AI product that we will soon launch is the AI Site Generator – that will allow users to create a personalised, well-designed full website using AI.... We also have tools to help with the business management aspect of a website. Having a beautiful website for your site visitors to interact is one aspect of the business, the other aspect is making sure you are optimising your business in the best way possible.

Imagine that a user who owns a store wants to optimise their business. Soon we'll have the option to have an AI assistant within the Wix platform that can help do that. For example, the user will be able to ask the system to optimise the store prices or create a unique campaign for the holidays or for a specific target audience or inventory management, and the assistant will help them do those tasks.

The AI assistant will be able to help with almost any other feature that Wix offers. Another example is for a restaurant owner. Instead of having to make a new menu from scratch, they can interact with the AI assistant, let it know what they want to change of add to the menu, and the assistant will just magically do the work for them, making their lives much easier.

To find out more about Wix's products, see Wix.com

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Rosie Hilder

Rosie Hilder is Creative Bloq's Deputy Editor. After beginning her career in journalism in Argentina – where she worked as Deputy Editor of Time Out Buenos Aires – she moved back to the UK and joined Future Plc in 2016. Since then, she's worked as Operations Editor on magazines including Computer Arts, 3D World and Paint & Draw and Mac|Life. In 2018, she joined Creative Bloq, where she now assists with the daily management of the site, including growing the site's reach, getting involved in events, such as judging the Brand Impact Awards, and helping make sure our content serves the reader as best it can.