The website is the core of any ecommerce business. That’s why every ecommerce team is constantly testing, optimizing, and redesigning. But what if there was a way to design an intuitive, robust website in just 30 seconds?
That’s the goal of Bookmark, a start-up that’s applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to web design. Criteo recently had the chance to talk to founder David Kosmayer about the company and how his team is harnessing machine learning to build the websites of the future.
From Marketing to Artificial Intelligence
Founded in 2013 by CEO David Kosmayer, Bookmark is a website building platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to create customized websites. The process can take less than thirty seconds.
Prior to launching Bookmark – and inspiring him to look into the initial concepts for the company – Kosmayer founded a successful affiliate marketing agency with his brother in his parents’ basement.
“Being a part of that gave me the opportunity to work with a bunch of entrepreneurs and small business owners,” says Kosmayer, “I learned about their pain points when it came to building a web presence.”
He observed his clients struggling to hire the right developers and being blindsided by the total fee when web projects exceeded initial quotes. Then, when a touch-up was needed, there were additional charges from other developers and designers. In short, web optimization was a pricey process.
The overall lack of “technical literacy” that Kosmayer observed, as well as the increasing need for individuals, startups, and businesses to build their own websites, got him thinking about possible solutions.
After eleven years of building his affiliate marketing company, Kosmayer became an investor in various startups, all the while observing how personalization seemed to be the key ingredient in the longevity and success of many companies.
“I’m a big believer that we’re moving into ultra-personalization in every aspect – especially in marketing and customer service,” says Kosmayer. “But personalization was missing in the web design industry. The most customization you could get without hiring a web designer was to pick a template that thousands of other people were already using.”
Kosmayer saw an opportunity and launched Bookmark.
Meet AiDA: An Artificial Intelligence Design Assistant
Backed by the Artificial Intelligence Design Assistant – or AiDA – Bookmark’s technology learns each user’s unique needs from a few nuggets of information provided by each client such as name, location, and type of business.
Using the information provided, AiDA crawls competitor websites for any information about a client’s business across Google, Facebook, and other social channels. AiDA then determines which components, colors, and layouts would be most optimal and relevant for each website.
For instance, if a yoga studio owner was looking to build out her web presence using Bookmark’s platform, she wouldn’t just choose a generic fitness template. She would enter her information and AiDA would crawl the web in order to pull information from studio, owner, and competitor websites.
AiDA then determines the answers to a few key questions: would this business require a photo gallery? A page for testimonials? A CTA page?
The result is a website that is totally unique to the business.
“Essentially, AI goes through thousands of equations at a time,” Kosmayer explains. “AiDA can create a website and if the client doesn’t like it, AiDA will keep changing it until they do.”
Machine Learning Makes AI Even Smarter
AiDA gets smarter with each new Bookmark client. It learns from each customer’s actions – what they’re saving, editing, and publishing. AiDA takes the data from these customized websites so that, over time, the creations get better and more relevant for each individual user.
Machine learning is what allows Bookmark’s recently launched on-boarding wizard – an integration that allows customers to change each individual component of their site with the simple click of a mouse – to improve design output with each click.
Already meant for people with zero web design experience, Bookmark makes things even easier with the onboarding wizard. Customers can click through variations on each component until they arrive at one they’re satisfied with.
Says Kosmayer, “With the onboarding wizard, you can be done with the whole look of a website in less than two minutes, and the whole website in less than an hour.”
Human Designer vs. AI Designer
With A.I. and machine learning on everyone’s lips today, it’s hard to allay fears that technology like AiDA could leave human creatives behind. As AiDA gets better, might we have less need for web designers and other web development creatives?
The answer is no. Kosmayer sees AiDA as it’s named – a Design Assistant.
While Bookmark’s current target customers are non-designers, Kosmayer hopes it’ll become a tool that can transform the way designers approach web design projects.
For example, since AiDa can build a website in 30 seconds, that would allow designers to rapidly create 5-10 completely different websites, present to clients in minutes and get feedback on their preferred “look”. After a selection is made, the designer would simply add unique design touches for further customization.
Machine learning would also enable AiDA to extract colors from a company’s logo and apply those colors to the web design elements. Pairing sophisticated AI algorithms with a designer’s creative eye could save countless precious hours of human designer time that could be applied toward the true artistry of web design.
“We’ve shown our product to designers and they’re really excited about the platform,” says Kosmayer. “It would empower designers more than anything.”
(Learn more: Man v. Machine: Is Your Job at Risk?)
Selling the Personal in a Personal Way
While Kosmayer has no immediate plans to implement AI or machine learning in Bookmark’s marketing plans, he’s confident both will play a role in future campaigns.
“As a website builder that caters to 650+ business types, having a general marketing campaign that focuses on everyone isn’t an option that would deliver on our promise,” he says. “The potential of using machine learning for our marketing would mean providing ultra-personalized marketing campaigns that cater to very specific niche businesses/industries.”
Kosmayer isn’t alone in that assessment. According to a recent white paper, IDC found that 64% of marketers believe that “optimized message targeting and real-time personalized advertising” are key areas where machine learning will deliver benefits. And they plan to invest accordingly.
For Bookmark and David Kosmayer, the road ahead is long, but the future bright. As an innovator who saw the personalization potential in AI and machine learning early on, Kosmayer has a few words of advice for budding entrepreneurs and marketers alike:
“Ultra-personalization is coming for every single industry. If you want to disrupt an industry and don’t know where to start, look for industries that aren’t doing enough with personalization and customization.”