Web Directions Year round learning for web and digital professionals

Who was surveyed?

We aimed to reach as many web designers and developers from around the world as possible, using our own networks, and via prominent web design and development focussed blogs and sites. As such, respondents are likely to be self educating, “early adopters” who keep abreast of developments in their field. As we’ll see in a moment, they are much more likely to come from design agencies, and the media and technology sectors than any other industry sector, but there is a significant range of sectors represented, and sizes of organizations varied widely as well. So, while the respondents are definitely of the “early adopter” profile, they certainly don’t all come from the same types of organization.

How was the audience reached?

We emailed our large databases of past conference attendees, and users of our software Style Master, as well as posting at our various web design and development related blogs. We also contacted a number of web design and development blogs, sites, and experts, and a number of these posted articles, twitter posts and so on about the survey. We saw reference to the survey turn up on twitter a number of times as well, and so it is likely that some respondents learned about the survey from web design and development focussed twitter users they follow.

The survey was open for just under 3 weeks, from December 1st to 20th 2008. In total, over 1200 (1234) people responded to the survey.

How did they describe their professional roles?

We gave respondents the option of identifying themselves as designers, developers, or applying their own label to their role. The aim was both to get a sense of how respondents saw their roles, and also to allow us to correlate philosophies and the use of various technologies according to how respondents identified themselves.

33% of respondents identified themselves as designers, and nearly half (over 48.5%) as developers. This may reflect the nature of the audience we reached, and the increasing emphasis on the use of JavaScript as a standard part of web design and development, with respondents seeing their role more as development than design.

Just on 18% of respondents described their role as “other”. Of these, respondents commonly described themselves as both designer and developer, or some form of one or the other main choices (“front end developer”, “web designer”). Other commonly used terms include “producer”, “analyst”, and “manager”. Mercifully, the term “webmaster” was almost entirely absent.

A couple of inventive folks used terms like “devigner” and “deseloper”, all of which goes toward an overall sense that respondents see development as the single most defining feature of what they do. It would be interesting to see whether, particularly with the rise of Ajax and web applications over the last 3 or 4 years, the overall trend is toward the sense that web professionals are “developing” for the web first and foremost.

Where did they come from?

Geographically, respondents came from all over the world, though with an unsurprising preponderance in North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. This would reflect the nature of our particular networks (being Australian based, Australia and New Zealand represents just under a quarter of all respondents, which is much higher than you would expect based on population alone.) But it also reflects the fact that the survey was in English only, and the channels by which people could discover the survey were largely in English.

However, it was definitely exciting and interesting to see respondents from countries like Ghana, Micronesia, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Peru. While the sample size from most of these “rest of the world” countries is such that it’s hard to draw any strong conclusions about specific uses of technology, it would be interesting to delve a little more deeply into responses from these countries, and compare them with those from “developed” countries.

Where do they work?

One thing that very much interested us with this survey was to determine how development practices and philosophies varied depending on the type of organization (small, medium and large enterprise, public sector, education and so on). So, we asked respondents the size of the organizations they worked for, as well as the sector these organizations come from.

In terms of organization size, with the exception of students and hobbyists, at 6% and 2% respectively, all the other sizes are quite similarly represented, at between 15% and 20% of the respondents. This means there are good sample sizes for comparing responses by organization size.

Which size organization do you work for?
Answer Count Percentage
I’m a student 68 5.51%
I’m a hobbyist 21 1.70%
I’m a freelancer 225 18.23%
Small Company (up to 10) 235 19.04%
Medium Company (up to 50) 244 19.77%
Large Company (up to 500) 184 14.91%
Huge Company (more than 500) 231 18.72%
Other 18 1.46%
No answer 8 0.65%
Non completed 0 0.00%

When it comes to industry sector, there’s a much higher concentration here in a small number of sectors, particularly Media, Technology, Education, and to a lesser extent government. Most other sectors fall into the 0 to 2% range. This might reflect a number of factors. Sectors other than the ones mentioned may be more likely to outsource the development of their sites to agencies, or the developers and designers who work for them might be less likely to feel the need to keep as up to date as those in sectors like Media and Technology.

Which sector do you work in?
Answer Count Percentage
Design Agency 319 25.85%
Banking & Finance 33 2.67%
Construction & Property 2 0.16%
Consumer Goods 11 0.89%
Engineering 16 1.30%
Health 22 1.78%
Industrials 2 0.16%
Leisure 9 0.73%
Media 129 10.45%
Natural Resources 2 0.16%
Retail 14 1.13%
Technology 231 18.72%
Telecoms 15 1.22%
Transport 6 0.49%
Utilities 3 0.24%
Local Government 16 1.30%
State/Regional Government 29 2.35%
National Government 30 2.43%
Charity/Not for Profit 42 3.40%
Education 125 10.13%
Other 169 13.70%
No answer 9 0.73%
Non completed 0 0.00%

So who are they?

Before we continue into the results of the survey, let’s quickly consider who the respondents are. Of course, there’s a good deal of surmise and guess work, but it’s worth putting our assumptions down based on the details above.

Based on the ways in which they learned about the survey (conference attendees, readers of web design and development related blogs, users of twitter), it’s reasonable to surmise that they are more early adopter than early majority in profile. They are almost certainly proficient in written English. Geographically, they come from all over the world, but predominantly from English speaking countries, and the developed world. They are most likely to work in design agencies, media and technology companies, education and government. They are more likely to consider themselves “developers” than “designers”, or to consider themselves a combination of both.


Next we’ll take a look at the operating systems that respondents use, and the browsers the use and test their sites and applications with.

delivering year round learning for front end and full stack professionals

Learn more about us

[Web Directions] is a delicious mix of things educational, social and mind-blowing. It’s time out from the hurly-burly to step back, get some perspective, and develop new ways forward, fortified with a whole lot of new stuff in your head.

Chris Stephens Technology Director, Mozo