Over the last year it seemed like every major site added some sort of "now better with AI" type call to action to its homepage. These tended to take the form of a big input box asking the user to describe something on their mind and let AI create it.

What is the likelihood that 5 words is enough to describe your creative vision?

There are some flaws to this approach, however.

First of all, you can rarely get a great outcome out of a few words. This might work for some of the suggestions that often accompanied this CTA, like "tell me how rainbows work," but if you expect a website generator to produce something that perfectly matches your mental image, you're likely to be disappointed.

Second, and probably as a result of the first, this pattern started to converge into a gimmick. It became a means of showing what the product could do, but couldn't effectively create an ah ha moment for the user.

Behind the scenes, it's also expensive to run the processors that power generative AI features. A month ago, you could generally demo these products at least once after putting something into the giant CTA, whereas today you eventually hit a paywall.

Regardless of the driver, this pattern seems to be evolving.

Many marketing sites still include some sort of big CTA to introduce the AI capabilities (and the monthly fee). Inside products, companies are experimenting with more familiar patterns like labeling it a "pro" feature or introducing it as an option within a user journey.

AI is presented alongside typical options in Typeform's wizard

This helps the user discover it within the context that it is most relevant. Using the Typeform example above, we can presume that by the time you are starting a wizard to create a new form, you likely have an intent in mind, which is going to make it more likely that what you describe gets you fairly close to what you are actually needing.

In some cases, the AI feature can't be discovered until other data has been added to the system. Products that have this dilemma include audio recording tools like Grain or Otter, and database tools like Productboard. In these cases, AI functionality is often introduced through a dialogue or banner, but again, discoverable in context.

Finally, let's not dismiss the possibility that sometimes a gimmick is exactly what you need. As someone who isn't an audio engineer, for example, I fail to see the commercial use case for AI-generated music. Still, I find their open CTA positively delightful, as it combines elements like suggestions and templates (a la Figjam) with a willingness to take the job seriously despite utterly ridiculous inputs.

I need to emphasize the importance of listening to the delightful tracks on Udio's main page

I don't know if I'll ever need a motown-esque song about how much I hate work, or an indie-rock ballad about a cat who fell in love with the bird it was hunting. If I ever do need this tool, sites like Udio that make the initial use easy because of their clear CTA will be the first on my mental list.

Details and variations

  • The most common implementation of an initial CTA is a large, open input
  • The input might be combined with suggestions of prompts to get you started
  • Some generators include parameters as well, such as audio generators like Udio
  • Galleries of examples might be present to give the user an added kickstart



Introduce AI in context

AI features can be intimidating or confusing to new users. Using a simple call to action to show how the features work can help them get past their initial reservations. This is especially effective for conversational experiences, where the initial CTA kicks off the conversation (such as Perplexity, Julius.ai, or Claude). For more complicated products, such as tools that generate decks, websites, etc, combine the CTA with templates, suggestions, and other guidance to help the user get close to what they are imagining.

Use delight to increase comprehension

Since it's unlikely that a user can generate a production-ready artifact on their first shot, consider giving them a more whimsical prompt for their first interaction with the CTA. As I pointed out above, Udio does a great job of this by making it easy for users to come up with fun concepts on their first go. When you create delight, people are more likely to talk about and share your product, or come back to it when they find a real use case. Sometimes getting someone over the initial hump of understanding is sufficient to be sure that you are their solution of choice when they are ready.

Potential risks

Don't oversell

CTAs that invite users to describe their idea in 5 words can lead to deflated expectations. If you use case is complicated enough that an open text box won't be sufficient to help users truly understand your capabilities, consider delaying the moment you introduce the AI, or put it in better context. Otherwise, make sure you're thinking about step 2, 3, etc. How can this be an opportunity to teach the user how to tune their prompts? Or are there follow up actions an AI copilot can suggest from their initial context? The worst case of this I have seen in the wild from any sufficient large site is GoDaddy's AI tools. To this day, I honestly have no idea why they are there, which means if I ever do discover a use case where their features could be a good fit, I already have a sour taste in my mouth.

Use when:
Create a front-door to introduce AI as a feature or to get users started with step one.


Canva page header
CTA within GoDaddy (though the placement in the user journey confuses me every time)
Another "I can do anything" CTA from Prezi
Figma's open-text CTA includes relevant templates to show the user an example of "good"
Notion placed their CTA at the top of the action suggestion on blank pages
This pattern makes the most sense as an intro to conversational AI tools like Julius.ai
ChatGPT, Claude, and other foundational conversational interfaces continue to use this pattern
Google has experimented with placing a CTA below their search input form, though it seems like they are now including results by default
An emerging pattern is to put the CTA inline with other analog options, like in Typeform
Adobe also positions their AI tool as a premium add on to their standard offering
Some companies have started introducing AI more aggressively where its functionality might not be as discoverable (and therefore not an option to select from). Productboard is shown here. Otter has a similar pattern.
Zapier uses a large CTA on their front page
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