How to Use ChatGPT for Web Development

ChatGPT is a must have tool for Website Creation. It can help with both Web Development and Web Design regardless of whether you are a professional developer or if you are working on your personal hobby blog. We explore some of the exciting use cases that ChatGPT can be used for and consider what the future of web development with AI may look like.

While ChatGPT can’t interact directly with your website and build it for you at the moment, it can be used as a reference to optimize various settings.

We recently went through a conversion from the Wix to WordPress hosting platforms and found it to be an invaluable tool. These are some of the real world use cases that we used ChatGPT to help us with during the conversion process.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an advanced Artificial Intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI. It utilizes cutting edge Machine Learning algorithms to provide an experience that is on par with speaking with another human.

While chatbots themselves are not new, ChatGPT introduced several key improvements that make it exponentially better than previous generation technologies. It was trained on absolutely massive datasets on a wide range of topics. ChatGPT is able to answer a wide range of general questions based on information available on the internet up to September of 2021, write computer programming code, and act as a resource for many technical questions.

Using ChatGPT for WordPress

It’s estimated that WordPress powers over 43% of all websites on the internet. WordPress is a very powerful platform to build a blog or business website off of. WordPress can also be very difficult to optimize to improve webpage speed, find the right setting to fine-tune your site to just how you want it, and to even figure out which plugin you should be using.

ChatGPT Can Provide Advice on WordPress Configuration

WordPress was released in May of 2003. It has had continuous bug fixes, but few major feature updates in recent history other than the Gutenberg editor in 2018. ChatGPT has a broad depth of information up to its cutoff point of September 2021. It does especially well answering questions about products and services which are widely used and widely documented allowing it to answer almost any WordPress question that you can throw at it.

Whether you’re asking about where to find specific options to setup or for best practices, ChatGPT will provide insightful information about where to find certain settings or best practices. In the example below, we ask ChatGPT to provide a quick way to replace images.

ChatGPT explaining how web developers can quickly replace images in WordPress

Using ChatGPT to Identify and Configure WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins are part of the reason that WordPress is so popular. There is almost a plugin for everything. In some cases there are hundreds of plugins that do almost the same thing and can be hard to choose which one is the right one.

If you’re completely new to the platform, it’s hard to tell what a native feature is and what requires a plugin to do. Many modern WordPress alternatives lack extensibility but have many standard features that one can take for grated.

Luckily, when asking ChatGPT about how to complete common and even not so common tasks it will respond with a way to do it in the native settings. If it’s not possible, then ChatGPT will recommend WordPress plugins that can complete these tasks.

We found that ChatGPT provides the best information for older and simpler plugins like Redirection. It becomes less reliable and shows its lack of more recent training on plugins that have received recent interface updates like Smush, Yoast, or Rank Math.

A lot of times the information provided was close enough to reason our way through the updated interface. Other times, we switched to Google Bard (Google’s version of ChatGPT) or Bing Chat (Microsoft’s version) which have live connections to the internet and are able to respond with up-to-date information.

If you don’t like the initial recommendations from ChatGPT ask it to provide 5 free plugins, or if it responds with a way to do something using HTML, ask a follow-up question to provide you a plugin that can complete the task.

Note: If you provide a little bit of contextual information, ChatGPT will automatically determine that the abbreviation “WP” is related to WordPress.

ChatGPT Helping Web Developers and Web Designers setup 301 Redirects to WordPress

Use ChatGPT to Improve Core Web Vitals

One of our reasons for changing web providers from Wix to WordPress was to improve our Google Core Web Vitals. At the time we didn’t know anything about WordPress setup and quickly found that moving to a faster webhost was only going to be the start of our journey.

No doubt that people who are professional web developers will know that there is a lot to optimizing a WordPress site. Creating a fast website that meets Google’s standards for mobile page load time can be a real challenge. If you’re new to the space like we were, it can be like learning an entirely new language.

ChatGPT was indispensable at providing information about what the Google Core Web Vitals terms were referring to. We leaned into Google Bard pretty often with these types of questions. There’s no announcement or proof that Google’s chatbot provides better information on optimizing websites for Google metrics, but it has a live connection to the internet and still provides in depth information.

Try asking Google Bard or ChatGPT about how to optimize different Core Web Vitals. The screenshot below is a PageSpeed Insights assessment. It’s a great resource to provide detailed information on each of the metrics that make up Google’s web speed assessment.

It goes into a lot of detail and highlights different parts of your page code that are causing slow loading. If you’re not familiar with the code, try copying and pasting it into ChatGPT or Google Bard and ask it to explain what it is on a website.

Screenshot of Google Core Web Vitals Assessment assisted by Chat GPT

Can ChatGPT Generate HTML?

Yes, ChatGPT can generate HTML. As a test, we used the natural language chatbot how to center an image with HTML. It provided two different methods, generated sample code using the Flexbox CSS module and a second option using Block and Margin.

Each part of the code can either be edited in an HTML editor, or you can ask ChatGPT to make adjustments on your behalf. If you want to do even less manual adjustments to the code that it generates you can copy and paste an image path and filename and it will include it in the code that it writes.

Another HTML use case is copying and pasting parts of your existing code and asking ChatGPT to modify it on your behalf or ask it to explain what the code is doing.

Note: You can copy and paste HTML code into ChatGPT and ask it to minify it. Minifying reduces HTML load time by removing all spaces. Another fun trick is to copy minified code, paste it into ChatGPT and ask it to make it easier to read.

Can I use ChatGPT to Generate a Website?

Yes, ChatGPT will generate HTML code that can be saved as html files and make a website. We tried having ChatGPT create a 5 page website for us. It was very difficult for us to describe what we wanted the website to look like making it difficult to create a website that looks good.

With so many inexpensive visual website builders on the market today, we do not see many use cases to fully generate a website using ChatGPT. The difficulty comes in designing a site to look good. Many of the website builders available today come with professionally created templates, and some allow you to edit the HTML code.

We recommend using a website builder like WordPress and modifying the HTML code with the help of ChatGPT as needed.

If you’re interested in using AI to generate websites, there are a number of new AI tools that walk you through a series of questions and will generate website designs and add pictures based on the assumed context of the images. They’re an interesting addition to the web design space and will be interesting to follow how they progress over the coming years.

What is the Future of Web Development?

Low code and no code website building tools have come a long way over the last several years and have eliminated the need to hire web developers for most simple websites like personal pages, small businesses and blogs. These tools will continue to improve and allow people to create more complex websites in less time. With the addition of AI, people will be able to quickly iterate on design ideas and pick and choose the versions that they like.

Keeping large websites running efficiently can take large teams of Network Engineers, Front-end and Back-end Developers along with skilled Web Designers. AI will likely automate some of the routine aspects of these jobs and make it easier to audit and optimize websites. However, we anticipate that difficult technical problems and judgement calls will still be left up to professional Web Developers.

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