Last Updated on August 5, 2020
B12 occupies a unique area when it comes to website builders — the company offers its customers websites built by AI in just a couple of minutes. According to B12, the end result is an agency-quality website at DIY prices.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how the build process works and what you’re likely to get as a final product so that you can make an informed decision as to whether B12 is the right choice for your business.
Is this use of AI a gimmick? Or is it the future of web design?
- About B12
- How Building a Website with B12 Works
- Are AI-Based Site Builders Worth It?
B12 is a small, New York-based company employing just over 25 team members. Since its founding in 2015 by Adam Marcus and Nitesh Banta, the company has helped create over 20,000 websites.
As we previously mentioned, B12 offers its customers custom websites. More specifically, the company offers a fully-automated build process where its human-assisted AI platform, Orchestra, builds you a custom website in just minutes.
B12 isn’t the only company that offers this type of service, but it is unique in that this offering isn’t common.
How Building a Website with B12 Works
When building a website with B12, you begin by providing a few facts about your business.
Artificial Intelligence: Robots Start Your Site
This is so the algorithm has a basic understanding of what your website needs. The algorithm also crawls the internet, looking for content from your existing website, social profiles, online mentions, and more.
Using these two sets of information, the B12 AI will create the beginnings of a website for you. This process should take about five minutes.
Clarify Goals, Content, and Features
Then you’ll be prompted to answer some questions about your website goals. Options listed include:
- Advertise my business
- Sell products or services
- Collect donations or raise funds
- Promote events, workshops, or classes
- Publish content like articles or videos
- Monetize the website with ads, sponsorships, or partnerships
The software will make recommendations for types of content for your site, but you can also manually check from a wide variety of content types, including:
- Awards or certifications
- Appointment form
- A display of business clients
- Upcoming events
- “How it works” (a visual display of your process, whether it be artistic, business-related, or other)
- Image gallery
- Lists of services
- News and announcements
- Newsletter sign-up
- Portfolio and projects
- Reservation forms
- and more
As you’re selecting the items you’d like, you’ll notice that the interface is simple and intuitive. The selection of items shows B12 has done a solid job of thinking through what most people will need for their site, and the level of variety is more than what you’d expect with a site builder.
Human Design and Review
The next step is for someone at B12 to review what the AI has created. The company states that the AI understands things like SEO and where content should go to maximize user experience and search engine rankings, but it is the B12 team member who makes sure that your site is unique.
At this point, B12 provides you with a working draft and asks you for your feedback on both functionality and aesthetics. With this feedback, the B12 team makes changes to your site. It takes about 3-7 business days for B12 to build your final website once they receive your input.
Continued Improvements For Your Website
Rather than keeping your website static, one aspect of B12’s packages is the inclusion of continued improvements. Each month, the B12 team will review your site and send you recommendations on how you can improve your website.
If you would like to implement the recommendations, all you have to do is approve the changes — B12 does all of the change-related work on your behalf.
If you are interested in being more hands-on with regards to your website, the B12 editor allows you to make changes and updates to your website. You’ll still get recommendations from B12 on how you can improve, but you can also make ad hoc changes as you see fit.
The Orchestra AI platform helps facilitate the creation of agency-quality websites.
The AI is responsible for tasks like setting up the basic site and gathering information about your business, while the B12 staff member is the one customizing your site so it stands out.
Video: an overview of some recent updates to the B12 editor.
B12 websites also support file imports, so if you have an existing website, you can move previously-used assets to your new website.
For those interested in a portable website — that is, one that can be moved to another host with ease — B12 doesn’t appear to have built-in exporting functionality, so you may have some difficulty in moving a site built by B12 elsewhere.
B12 websites aren’t limited to text and simple images. The platform supports the use of videos and high-resolution images.
B12 prides itself on being SEO experts, and both staff members and the Orchestra AI platform will help make sure that your website is built to rank well in search engine results.
Video: Find out how “B12 SEO” works by combining AI and professional marketers.
With more and more people accessing the internet from mobile devices, it’s important that your websites are responsive. B12’s websites are all optimized for mobile, so your site will look good on any screen size.
In addition to having access to an editing interface, B12 allows you to use CSS and HTML so that you can customize every aspect of your website after B12 builds the initial version for you.
Blogging and Social Media
To complement your static content, B12 offers blogging functionality (with support for Medium, WordPress, and RSS feeds) and social media integration. This means that all your followers will get notifications whenever you update your website.
If you’re interested in selling online, B12 supports e-commerce by allowing integrations with platforms like Shopify and Ecwid. Note that B12 does not come with built-in functionality supporting e-commerce.
If you run a business that offers appointments, you can integrate your B12 site with Calendly or a custom form so that your customers can set up appointments online.
One major aspect of your site is the text you display to users. B12 has an in-house copywriting team that can help you craft your website’s content. The content can be as simple as a blurb for your website or as complex as a monthly blog post ghostwritten for you.
When working with B12, there are several pricing tiers available to you.
The Starter option is free and includes an AI-built, mobile-optimized website for you to review. You can certainly use the Starter plan for a live website, though you will not be able to use a custom domain name (eg, your site is accessible only using your-subdomain-name.b12sites.io).
The Basic plan, which is a step above the Starter option, gets you everything you need for the website B12 designs for you, including web hosting (with unlimited bandwidth and storage), a custom domain name, support for calendar integrations, contact management functionality, monthly recommendations from B12 on how you can improve your website, and technical support via chat and email.
The Premium plan builds off of the Starter and Basic plans. You’ll also get support via telephone, as well as third-party integrations.
Finally, there are two options that include SEO. The SEO plan builds off of the Premium plan and ensures that your search engine rankings are better (resulting in higher traffic levels). The SEO Pro plan gets you SEO and a monthly blog post written on your behalf.
To provide some perspective on SEO pricing, a friend of mine who owns a content agency charges a minimum of $1,500 just to handle title tags and meta descriptions for a website: a small part of overall SEO. Another said she charges $150/hour.
When subscribing to B12, you can pay on a monthly basis, or you can pay upfront for an annual contract. If you opt for the latter, you can save a bit on your overall monthly subscription fees.
|Plan||Monthly price||Annual price /mo|
Hosting and Custom Domains
All paid B12 website plans come with the hosting you need to ensure that your website is accessible to everyone on the internet. Paid plans also get you a custom domain for your site.
One add-on offered by B12 that can be purchased alongside any of its website packages is Email Marketing. With this add-on, B12 will:
- Manage your relationships and help convert leads into customers
- Use its AI to build you emails to match your website
- Allow you access to a library of email templates
- Offer you assistance with setting up and maintaining your email marketing campaigns
Are AI-Based Site Builders Worth It?
The biggest selling point with AI-based site builders is that you get lower prices, because the AI handles some of the tasks that would otherwise be performed by humans (such as searching for existing information about your website online, finding your social media profiles, and so on).
However, AI isn’t perfect, so any solution offered to you won’t be fully automated. There still needs to be a human who will review the information curated and the website built.
In our opinion, AI-based website builders are a great option for those who want a simple, but professional website built by someone else without paying through the roof for such services.
If you are interested in a more complex website, these options aren’t a fit for you.
A Comparison of AI-Based Site Builders
B12 isn’t the only AI-based site builder around; some alternatives include Wix’s ADI offering and Firedrop.ai’s Sacha. Here’s how they compare against B12.
|Primary Focus:||Websites||Landing Pages||Websites|
|Prices start at:||Free||Free||Free|
|Input required:||Answer questions||Ask questions||Answer questions|
If you’re interested in a simple website for your business, but a design agency or a web designer/developer isn’t in your budget, consider B12.
Those who seek more complex websites would be wise to look elsewhere — B12 appears to specialize in single-page websites that do not involve complex graphics or features. With its human-assisted AI-platform, however, B12 offers custom websites at a low cost. Interested? Visit B12 now.