In light of my Free Ideas segment where I’ve promised to deliver free ideas on the topics of business, marketing, entrepreneurship etc. Today’s idea is to create a design automation tool. Or, a software that automates the template creation process.

Every marketer and advertiser needs images for ads and just any kind of visual content they put out. There are several companies already doing this, you can see my other post about design tools for this but, think about all of the social media companies there are now. Most have been able to thrive because they offer something that the other doesn’t.

If Twitter would have said Facebook has social media already let’s not make another social media company. Or if Facebook would’ve said MySpace is already doing what we want to, they would’ve never become the multi-billion dollar company they are today. Again ideas don’t mean anything, execution is everything. If you can execute better then the next guy then you’ll win.

This doesn’t mean you go out there and copy what someone else is doing. This means you go out and see what they’re not doing and how you can execute it better.

Design Automation

By the way, a great resource if you want to stay ahead with ideas are TED Talks and Big Think.

The automation of design and templates is in no way the end of designers. It can only help designers. A lot of architects and designers are using automated processes and robots in their schemes, called robotic process automation. One example is Neri Oxman who is both a designer and an architect. She’s merging digital fabrication with the biological world. Two very interesting industries that no one has really touched on.

Using the power of technology she’s been able to reveal nature’s design process and has extracted it by using robots. Architecture has a bright future if this is where it’s headed. Furthermore, companies like Primus Builders (see link) are already using automated facilities as a way of enhancing intralogistics for businesses in fields as diverse as cold storage and medical device sterilization, so it’s incredibly exciting to see what will happen next.

This example is simply to illustrate how designers can and should embrace technology. Companies like Envato Market and Canva provide a lot of template based designs. These are easy for non-designers to grab and use as one-offs. For others, they may want to consider taking a moment to see the Digital Deployment association web design examples, amongst others.

This type of cookie-cutter innovation though, only leads to the want and need for custom designs. If everyone can use the templates on Canva for example, then custom design is what will stand out.

Why We Need Better Design

In the past decade, design giants like Apple and Samsung have proven that design makes life better and easier. The world needs people that are going to continue pushing the envelope in design. Companies like Apple and Samsung are great but, unfortunately not everyone can afford their products. Not everyone could afford to have Internet 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Design is shifting towards solving this problem. There are many great innovators at work with this. Creating new ways to make the Internet affordable and accessible to countries with limited resources. Renewable energy has been playing a key role with this.

I can’t remember the name now but, I saw this video of a guy in Africa that’s using cell phone cameras to create a network that provides real time traffic updates. The way that this is done in large cities is with sensors but they can be expensive. So the workaround was taking advantage of the community of cell phones. People responded.

Another quick example is a small solar panel that’s being sold on a monthly plan that can charge cell phones or any electronic device. Most countries have cell phones but they can’t afford electricity or are just off the grid.

Tesla is a well-known company that is pushing towards better design that’s better not only for the economy but for ecology too. Think about the ecology part. Better for our relationship with the environment. The huge factory Tesla’s building will generate the same amount of energy it consumes.

Back to Neri Oxman, mentioned above, she has created a Material Ecology where we can grow furniture and even entire buildings. By merging biological properties with digital fabrication technologies she’s been able to grow chairs, clothing and sound proof material.

neri oxman chair


Design is not in any way tied to user interfaces or screen sizes. Design is completely based on the user experience making any designer look at how website consumer flow can affect their user experience. That’s why I wrote in my past post that UX is the future of design.

How to Execute on Such an Idea

If I were to create a startup that sells a software which facilitates the design process I would focus on a few things. Of course do my research first and see who’s dominating this niche. See what are their strengths and their weaknesses. Then create a strategy that will exploit those weaknesses.

I would also have to look at my own strengths. I like writing about design because I really enjoy designing. So I would need to hone-in on this strength and outsource other things such as, programming or app design.

One direct application to this idea that comes from my past work in design is using the golden ratio (or golden section) in the design process. Everything that feels good in our hands or looks good to the eye has some basis on this ratio. It is found in nature and therefore pleasing to the eye. I’ve found very few softwares that exploit this ratio in the creation of templates.

Execution would have to be along the lines of proving how wonderful this ratio works and how it’s already being used in the design world.

By using the many designs possible from this one single ratio, it can be the guiding factor in creating a software or service that produces custom designs. The possibilities are endless when you dig deep into this ratio. I’ve done numerous studies on it myself. The way that it works has a lot to with diagonals within the golden rectangle (proportion of 1.618…). I’ll share more on my golden ratio studies in future posts.

golden ratio design template


Anything designed with the golden section as a guiding principle can in fact be pleasing to the eye. It must be used as a proportional framework though (as seen in image above).

The image below shows the different possibilities of such a framework. There are far more in fact this is just one example.

golden section rectangle design - face proportion

© Copyright Onelfri Villar Photography

A Look Ahead

The only company I’ve seen that’s been executing something like this is The Grid, which I mentioned in my post about the future of web design. They’re using a grid that uses artificial intelligence programmed to think like a designer, to create custom web designs. I’ve read some mixed reviews about it so not really sure how it’s going to do. Just have to wait and see.

There’s really a great future in this niche though. We can call it custom template creators and, when they become as easy to create as a simple WordPress site, then the web will get very interesting.

These advances in technology have been made possible because of the context or circumstances we live in. What is context? Here’s Google’s definition:

google definition of context

We are living in an era where technology is exploding. It is becoming more and more affordable and accessible because of that. Things like artificial intelligence and 3-D printing are becoming mass production items. It’s an age where abundance has become normal. The future is biotechnology.

I can’t help to think about how in the future of web design the user experience designer will survive. Because everything, no matter if it has a screen or not, will need to have a great user experience. Automation and robots still require user experience but, how does all of this relate to other fields in technology and design?

How does user experience translate to digital fabrication and biology? What is the user experience of a 3-D printer or a robotic arm? What is the user experience of an article of clothing made from biological materials by a robotic arm? Should it even have UX or can it have UX? These questions are worth considering at this point where technology is growing faster then ever before.

If you’ve gained value from this post feel free to share it.

Onelfri Villar in a suit and tie with sombrero, online marketing expert

Marketing For Creatives

Skype Name: Onelfri


Twitter: @onelfri

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