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Designbot: The Story Behind the World’s First Design Remix Engine

Dear Intrigued Person,

This may be the first time you’re hearing about our program, so let me explain a bit about who we are and what we’ve been working on.

Today, we’re releasing the Designbot as part of our website builder platform, which you may have used in the past.

So what does Designbot do? 

Designbot makes design iteration, and getting to a design that you love, much faster. It also makes the process enjoyable, by simply showing you results and letting you say what you like and don’t like. Designbot then takes that input and generates more designs based on your feedback.

For small business owners with small budgets and no time, Designbot can help you go through hundreds of iterations and get a great looking unique website up in a minutes. In the past, small businesses have been limited to rigid cookie-cutter templates, or hiring a professional designer, but Designbot now lets you have a fully custom designed site quickly and easily.

For creatives, it allows you to start from a point that is closer to what you want to end up with. After picking your design, you enter our editor, and have very powerful customization options, so you can make the more finite adjustments that you need to accomplish your vision.

The Thinking Behind Designbot

I’d like to now explain why we built Designbot, and what we’ve accomplished to date.

A while ago, we thought it would be interesting to build a guided design experience while creating a website. A tool to help take your inputs and guide them. An example would be If you want to change the size of your font, for example, let us suggest that you also change the line height.

A pretty simple idea at heart around the belief that all good design is based on math. More specifically, designs of web pages that contain information.

Design has been based on math since its birth.

While I don’t have enough data to prove it, my belief is that most digital designers don’t think that design is based on math. They do, but they don’t. Since they are the creators, most people don’t really believe that what happens in a designer’s mind could be done with a machine.

At best, most digital designers believe that math is just a validation technique. It’s a post-production thought. In some forms of art, that may be true. That the raw material is there, and math is just a testing technique to get a better composition or balance things out.

In web design, however, math can have a larger influence.

It can define the core concepts and really reshape the raw material (content and core structure). It can be part of the core process of design. Math can be treated as a first class citizen from the beginning. In some cases, it could even reshape the core structure.

You may have come across math’s influence on typography, balance, white space, composition, colors, etc. You were probably intrigued, but that’s it. It’s nice, you get it…but it leaves out the magic.

Our thesis was that this “magic” was a solvable problem. And that, as humans, we are very good at recognizing lots of patterns, are able to be influenced by those patterns, and then remix and implement them in our own creations.

All we needed to do was replicate this process in our algorithm, which turned out to be easier said than done.

After almost two years, the Designbot is a first stab at solving this immense challenge, with the following limitations:

  • It’s restricted to simple web pages
  • It’s limited to a certain library of images and content
  • It’s for a set number of use cases only to start out

It’s by no means anywhere close to what a professional web designer can accomplish, because of the limitations we have on resources and time. However, we have laid all of the underlying technology to be able to accomplish this in the journey ahead.

Our Most Notable Accomplishments

  • We built the world’s first color scheme generation platform. It can take any given color and produce beautiful schemes that can actually be applied to an entire page (not just backgrounds and text). Color scheme generation that is agnostic of the page’s content and layout is extremely different than coming up with a general color scheme.
  • We designed a very powerful layout generation platform, which can manipulate and create new layouts on the fly.
  • All the designs generated are then brought into our website editor, and can be fully edited with an incredible amount of flexibility and control.
  • A design can be produced in less than 2 seconds.
  • The designs are all generated on the fly.
  • Background imagery served within our designs are processed on the fly.
  • The designs produced from the engine are beautiful, and offer tremendous variety.
  • We have a large library of apps that can be manipulated in terms of content, settings, form, and design on the fly.
  • All the designs are fully responsive, and are also backed by a device optimization platform, which can optimize functionality such as navigation menus and galleries for your particular device.

I think those are pretty impressive accomplishments.

However, our algorithm also has a very long way to go. Our goal with this release is not to say, “Hey, we’ve replaced the designer.” It’s to say that we’ve taken a stab at a very hard problem, and feel that we have fairly good results.

We truly hope that it has value to people that could never afford professional design services.

On a separate note, we’re bringing back the free plan for  sites. Read more about that here.

Thanks so much for reading.

With much respect,
Navid + Team