First Impressions On Product Design With Midjourney

Last week I looked into ChatGPT for product design work. Since it is a chatbot, its capabilities revolve around text-based output (although this is starting to change). For designers, AI tools that output visuals like images or videos, are even more interesting.

There are quite a lot of these AI tools available now, one of the most popular ones being Midjourney. I gave it a spin to see how it could be used as part of the design workflow.

What Is Midjourney

Midjourney is what's called a “generative artificial intelligence”. It takes natural language descriptions (text prompts, like ChatGPT) and generates images based on those.

I found the whole user experience to be less straightforward than the one from ChatGPT because you need to use Discord to chat with the Midjourney bot.

Note: You can find all the prompts used for the following examples at the end of this post, numbered to match the image numbers.

Midjourney For UI Design

After playing around with a few random things, I started to prompt for interface designs. I asked for a landing page design and an app design for a budgeting app. I also prompted other kinds of websites, like an agency site and the website of an art gallery.

Four example images generated with Midjourney, a landing page design, an app design and two website designs

As with ChatGPT, it took some time to figure out how asking for the same thing in different ways can alter the result. This seems to be a bit more complex in Midjourney because you can pass extra parameters like the aspect ratio of the image.
Midjourney also provides more usage options like blending multiple images into a new one.

As you can see from the examples above, Midjourney struggles with text. All the images show random gibberish. But it is capable of coming up with interesting color combinations and different stylistic trends (like a flat and minimal design versus a more realistic one). You can also ask for these things in the prompts.

Besides web and app designs, I played around with prompts asking for icons and illustrations. Since you can also ask for a specific style or an image in the style of a specific designer or artist, this makes for some interesting experiments.

Four images generated with Midjourney, an app icon, an illustration, a water color painting and a logo

Again, the results are not flawless. For example, the little cloud in the background of the weather icon looks a bit off. But at least some of the results I could produce looked good on a first glance. I can see why people are scared that pretty soon an AI will take over at least parts of their job and create images that would have required a professional before.

As for product design, Midjourney and similar tools currently work great for exploration. You can generate different designs for a specific topic in various styles incredibly fast. In some cases, you get a great baseline image from which you can take over as a designer and produce a final result.

Midjourney In General

Stepping away from digital product design, Midjourney can of course also be used to generate all other kinds of images. Sometimes the results are uncanny and feel “off” in one way or the other. Sometimes, you could spot errors (weird human hands, strange lines or shapes, etc.). And sometimes, the results blow you away. Since you can further improve these images with other tools, I can see how AI tools like Midjourney will change the way we create and work with images.

Four images generated with Midjourney, a crashed space ship, two people standing in front of each other, a woman with a straw hat and a dim lit alley

Example Prompts

Here is a list of all the prompts used to generate the example images shown in this article. Please note that even if you copy and paste the exact prompt into the exact version of Midjourney (as of writing, that's version 5.1), you will get different results. The look and feel of the generated images should be the same, though. At least that is my experience trying out prompts from the Internet.

  1. Landing page for a budget app, minimal, highly detailed, sharp, featured on Dribbble, --ar 4:3
  2. UI design of a budget app, clean, pastel color palette, mobile app, high resolution, --ar 4:3
  3. Minimalistic landing page design for a a design agency with large type, website design, black and white, sleek, product design, --q 2 --s 250
  4. UI design of an online art gallery, website, --ar 4:3
  5. App icon for a weather app, clouds, sun, pastel colors, design, ui, ux, --v 5.1
  6. Tech illustration, woman at desk surrounded by succulents, simple, minimal, by Slack and Dropbox, style of Behance
  7. Light watercolor, interior of a cozy cafe, bright, white background, few details, dreamy, Studio Ghibli
  8. Logo of a camera, minimal, style of Japanese book cover
  9. A film still of a destroyed space ship stranded in the desert, proves, aerial shot, 70mm, muted color grading, cgi, sci-fi, --ar 16:9
  10. A film still of two people having an argument, --ar 16:9 --seed 19
  11. Realistic street style photo, 35 mm lens, woman walking towards the camera by a luxury yacht in Monaco, wearing casual yet stylish outfit, a straw hat, woman looking at the camera, visual face, relaxed, glamorous vibe, shot on Sony AIII high resolution digital camera, hyper realistic skin, global illumination, very natural features, f/11, --uplight --ar 3:2 --q 2 --style raw --v 5.1
  12. A film still of a dim lit alley in a city, prores, --ar 16:9 --seed 19