Introducing Solo, an AI website builder for solopreneurs

39% of workers in the US are freelancers. This isn’t necessarily your full time job, but can also be your passion project, your hobby, your second job, your side hustle or other. The rise in remote work and the creator economy have made freelancing easier than ever.

Credit: Yahoo Finance

But with freelancing, solopreneurs are spending significant time setting up tools when they would rather run their business. At Mozilla and our commitment to a healthier internet, we believe that exploring ideas that can enable solopreneurs an admirable vision. Today we are excited to introduce a new Mozilla Innovation Project, Solo, an AI website builder for solopreneurs.

If you scour Yelp, it appears a third of businesses lack a website. However, building a website not only provides you with a presence that you own and control but it is also good for business. Whether launching a chess coaching or pet walking business, Solo helps the solopreneur generate their business website and provide them the basic tools to grow their business. 

Solo automatically composes your site for your business from which you can personalize

Why Choose AI for Website Building?

In 2023, website creation is still hard. While choosing a template is straightforward, sourcing images, writing content, and making a visually appealing site are really time-consuming. Add the requirements for showcasing reviews, scheduling, and providing a customer contact form, and the process becomes even harder and a lot more expensive.

Our survey data shows that the majority of solopreneurs rely upon their “tech buddy” to help build their website. As a result, the websites become stale and harder to maintain as it relies on a call to their buddy. Others without a “tech buddy” try popular website authoring tools and then abandon because it’s simply too hard to author and curate content.

Using AI to generate the content of your site and source your images, which a solopreneur can then revise into their own unique voice and style levels the playing field. Solo takes this a step further and can also scrape your existing business Yelp or other page so you have an online presence that is totally authentic to you.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s really simple. Visit Solo, provide some basic details about your business or point us at your existing website or Yelp page and watch Solo use AI to generate a website for you. From there, you further personalize and then publish. The entire experience can be completed in literally just a few minutes.

Solo Onboarding Asks a Few Questions to Get Started

The Technical Journey Behind Solo

Like others, our journey with generative AI has been an awesome learning experience. In using generative AI, we encountered many hoops. Note, below is a bit more technical for our engineering readers.

Determining the right prompt

The prompt you use can massively affect the generated content. Adding platitudes or indicating that the output is critical to your job or that you’ll tip the AI can change the result. We explored a few tools, such as Fiddler, to look at derivatives of prompts but the work involved to look at each result to then qualitatively score was too much work for our very small team.

Overloading our prompts

We first tried a single prompt to generate all of the content for your website. This did not work. Too often, the AI would fail to answer all of our requests or  just take too long. To mitigate, we generate each part of your site in parallel as a series of separate smaller prompts. 

Incorporating your existing presence

Scraped content was often very long and only portions were relevant. For example, your existing business Yelp page may contain ads and more. We tried different scrapers to strip irrelevant content and HTML. We then used AI to incorporate relevant content from the scrape when generating text for each section of the website. We still had hallucinations but found with the right prompting and more aggressive trimming of the scraped content, the AI worked well to incorporate relevant reviews and more into your new website. Trimming of the scrape was also necessary because OpenAI seemed to downweight content in the middle of the larger prompt.

Generating structured output

A generated website has headlines, body text and more. Sometimes, the AI would return too many sentences or simply ignore our request. To address, and given that we use OpenAI, we use the functions capability to resolve our issues.

Handling NSFW content

The AI itself was surprisingly good but we are also planning to add an additional guardrail by applying a simple NSFW filter on the input content.

Choosing the best images

A large part of AI website generation is sourcing images. We use Unsplash for images and we use the AI to tell us what keyword or phrase to use to search Unsplash with. In this example, we are chaining a series of prompts. The first prompt requests the text for a section of your site and the second prompt then requests a keyword(s) to search Unsplash with provided such text.

Generative AI analytics

Like Google Analytics, we wanted to see what prompts were being run and what content was being generated. We initially did our own logging but found there to be many great tools like Reconify that we could leverage to do the same. 

Above is just a sampling of some of the things we encountered to make Solo. 

What’s Next

If you have a side hustle or a business, want to play with generative AI or simply want to work with beautifully designed AI generated sites, give Solo a try.

This an early iteration of the vision and you can expect being able to configure your own custom domain amongst other capabilities soon. We are excited to empower solopreneurs to pursue their passions and continue to grow Solo.

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