The Web Design Survey, 2007

by ALA Staff

112 Reader Comments

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  1. Question 4 needs a choice like Junior Developer. Having a “junior” status doesn’t necessarily mean I know less it just means I get paid less.

    Also my specific profession is completely missing. I do Email Marketing and SEO. I would definitely consider what I do to be more on in the field of Web Development (and thus worthy of being in the survey) than marketing even though we almost always are working with the marketing department of our clients.

    I would have liked to have been able to explain any “other” choices I made.

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  2. I guess I shouldn’t have submitted my comment quite yet.

    In Question 11, Whats the difference between US:Midwest and US:Great Plains. Living smack dab in the middle of Illinois (Peoria, IL to be exact) I’m really in both.

    I apologize if I came across a little nit-picky. Let me now that the time to say how much I appreciate this effort. You guys are very correct; there is definitely a lack of data about out field.

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  3. I personally found the questions about gender and race being an issue in employment to be very important. Although I have the most education in the office, as well as most experience in information engineering, I am always made aware that some colleagues don’t approve of females working in IT, much less in development. I wonder how many other female developers face these issues.

    I would love to be able to view the results when this survey is completed, and perhaps discuss the outcome with an open forum.

    I also found the holiday/vacations questions to be confusing – perhaps wording the holidays as state/govt/bank holidays would clarify the issue.

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  4. “J. Zeldman wrote”:

    Our initial inclination was to list every nation on earth in a drop-down. But the other surveys didn’t do this. We followed their lead so we (and you) could more compare our findings to theirs. […] Copying patterns established by previous surveys (such as the way they categorized geographic regions) will enable apple-to-apple comparisons.

    That’s reasonable on the face of it, but you’ve made your data less useful, the survey more confusing, and you didn’t need to do so.

    The part about making the survey more confusing should be fairly evident from the number of comments saying “Wait, where do I live?” and “Does Colorado count as south west?” and such.  But perhaps the “data less useful” part is not so obvious.

    It’s a matter of data conversion.  If you’ve got a specific location, you can turn it into a more general location.  Egypt is in Africa.  So if you know the respondent is from Egypt, you also know that he or she is from Africa.  But if all you know is that the respondent is from Africa, then it’s impossible to say where exactly in Africa that person might be.  Could be Congo.  Or Sudan.  Or Cote d’Ivoire.  Or Algeria.  You can convert a specific location into a general, but not vice versa.

    For next year, consider this approach:

    1) Put in a drop-down of every nation on earth so people can just pick whatever country they happen to live in.

    2)  Re-categorize that data later.  “Oh, they’re in Botswana.  That counts as Africa.”

    3) For the apples-to-apples comparison you’re interested in, just coordinate with the AIGA people to make sure that your general-area categories and theirs match up.

    Lastly, I’d like to add a “me too” to the employee-over-focused bandwagon.  I’m not a free-lancer, exactly, but neither am I a full-time employee.  I’m a full-time graduate student.  I teach composition to support myself.  But I also maintain the departmental web site, and do assorted odds-and-ends of web work to supplement my rather meager income.  I suppose you could call the web parts “freelance.”  But all of that “freelance” work comes from just one client, the university, who is also my regular employer.  So I’m neither fish nor fowl.

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  5. I think this survey is great. Very professional, as one would expect from the ALA guys.

    I would however like to know if the data will be available in raw format? The reason i’m asking is because i am studying in college and i am currently taking an “Applied Statistics” course. This data would be very fun to test out some of the concepts.

    Furthermore i think that by publishing the data a lot of interesting analysis could come to light.

    My apologies if this has already been answered

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  6. “Jonathan Worent”: asked:

    In Question 11, Whats the difference between US:Midwest and US:Great Plains. Living smack dab in the middle of Illinois (Peoria, IL to be exact) I’m really in both.

    Pick the one that most precisely fits your location. Sounds like Great Plains may be the more precise choice for you.

    From the comments here and at, I think we’ve established that a number of people are uncomfortable with the geographic categories. Discomfort with these categories may not be a majority opinion: many thousands of people have already taken the survey vs. a couple of dozen complaints in this forum.  But more complaints may await us in the comments fields of the survey itself.

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  7. Should this really be called “Web Design Survey”? This catch-all phrase is used for every type of web activity, e.g. coding, techical support, online marketing, content production – as well as design. indeed, the survey questions themselves show that it is not focused exclusively on design.

    Something like “Web Activity Survey” or “Web Management Survey” would be better, methinks.

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  8. Oo – careful not to confuse “feedback” and “complaints”, Mr. Zeldman.  I can’t speak for others, but I was offering feedback.

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  9. As a “convenient” and “self-selecting” survey, it’s statistically garbage. However, I am anxious to see the results.

    These are the same problems that haunt design in general: who is a legitimate designer, and how do you know?

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  10. As a “convenient”? and “self-selecting”? survey, it’s statistically garbage.

    Do you talk to everyone that way?

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  11. Good idea, and ALA is a good place to do this survey. But I think you need to improve the way the survey adapts itself to the respondent, and further consider all the different types of people who might answer the survey. I got several questions which your survey shouldn’t have asked me, considering my earlier answers.

    A bit more on non-business aspects of the profession would be useful too. Your say the survey is supposed to be about the business side, but why not also make it about the technical side, and about social aspects? For example, if you asked more technical questions about things like standards or programming languages, we could look for correlation between income and standards-compliance, or between favoured languages and career intentions, or whatever.

    I understand that you want to keep the survey short so that more people respond, but the problem of attention span should be addressed the survey’s dynamism—it could be possible for the respondent to opt out of certain sets of questions if they can’t be bothered with them, or for your software to make an informed guess about what level of detail they’re likely to be able/willing to answer.

    For example, certain groups of people (like standards enthusiasts) would be very happy to spend half an hour answering detailed questions. So you could ask, “To what extent do you care about web standards?”, and then if they express a strong interest, you know you can get away with asking detailed questions like “Do you think mark-up validity matters?”

    OK, most analysis of this data won’t concern technicalities like that. But a lot of the analysis will relate to only small groups of respondents, and not to the entire dataset. E.g. we might want to compare the average income of freelance PHP developers with that of salaried PHP developers (in which case we’d obviously only look at surveys that had been answered by PHP developers), or see if people with a particular speciality (AJAX, Flash, database design) tend to have particular views on the social relevance of the internet, or on professionalism, or…

    This post is getting very long. My basic point is that if you’re going to do a big survey like this, you might as well cover social and technical aspects as well, and that wouldn’t necessarily put people off. And if you’re getting 500 responses an hour, you can afford to lose a few.

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  12. Somewhere, Amber Simmons wrote “Lots of hostile responses to the survey, and even more random grandstanding which I thought was”¦weird, but whatever. I look forward to the results.”

    I agree, and me too.

    After browsing through the comments, I am stunned at the amount of complaining about the questions (as opposed to feedback). Particularly for a FIRST annual survey.

    I’m a chemist from the mid-western U.S. whose experience in web design is posting technical information for my employer and putting up my personal website. I have never made a dime doing it. I get 18 days vacation and a smattering of national holidays, but no bank holidays since I am not in that business.  I had no trouble answering any of the survey’s questions and was able to complete it in about 10 minutes. I find it disturbing that so many people who are ostensibly creative designers have trouble finding plausible ways to answer basic questions. Especially making the connection that “other” can mean “none of the above”.



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  13. The survey was pretty easy to take.  There were a few times I felt like nothing really applied, or I would have like to explain myself, but only one time I didn’t pick at least one of the options. Maybe more “other,” “n/a” or “don’t know” options for us perfectionists that don’t like to pick a choice that isn’t 100% accurate. :-)

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  14. I would suggest that any list of ranges NOT include the same number in more than one range.  For instance, on hours worked per week, don’t make the top range number of one range be the same as the bottom number of another range. Instead of 30-40 hours a week and 40-50 hours, make ranges like 30-39, 40-49 so someone at 40 hours a week doesn’t have to decide which button to select.  Same with incomes, etc.

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  15. This so great! I love comments. All these people complaining about ids and i don`t know which button to click…

    “But more complaints may await us in the comments fields of the survey itself.”

    After looking at these comments I am very sorry about my comment in the comments fields of the survey itself. It was not about ids and geography issues though. As always alistapart did hit some kind of nerve (is this the right idiom?). I am not sure if this is about the topic or about online surveys in general.

    So what made me complaining (I would like to say feddbacking :-))? I would have loved to be asked some other kinds of questions like: How do you cope with the ever changing demands. Maybe something about work-life balance? How many hours do you spend unpaid in front of your computer (or on a train) gathering information or solving problems just because you are interested and love what you are doing? Are you getting trouble with your boyfriend, wife, children, partner because you are spending to much time on your job? Do you sometimes work unpaid doing stuff you think is great or for people you like? Do you share your knowledge on forums and blogs. Are you giving in to clients who don`t know anything about web standards and stuff. Are your clients as bad as mine? Sorry about that last bit. How important is money for you when you are considering a job?

    These are things i would like to know? But they a really hard to fit in a survey aren`t they?

    I will spread the news about this survey i think it is a start and as we all know the next one will be even better…

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  16. I think this survey is a great idea, good work ALA!

    I agree with previous posts about the survey being US centric, I think next time using slightly more generic options in the education category and allowing people to select their country would help. I also thought it would be more useful (and culturally sensitive) to include more options in the “ethnicity” question, and add a further question asking something like “Do you consider yourself as belonging to an ethnic minority in your country” as that seems to be what the question is really getting at.

    Anyway that’s my $0.20 worth. In brief, some suggested (Australian centric) additional answer options…..

    Education –
    Technical College
    Software Vendor Certified Training

    Ethnicity –
    Pacific Islander
    (I’m sure more should be added from other places to!)

    Location –
    Major City
    Regional City
    (or something along those lines)

    I’d also like to see some questions about professional networking.

    Hope this helps!

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  17. I do most of my work as a volunteer.. Ergo, I get no money for my work.

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  18. From reading these posts, I see proof that our industry has lots of diversity. Two people can do the exact same jobs with entirely different job titles, or self-employed vs. working for a firm. This survey did a good job trying to appease the many different flavors within the “Web Design” Community. Or is it the “Internet Development” Community? Or maybe it’s something else…“Those Who Make The Web A Better Place For Everyone Else” Community.

    Dang, gotta go change my business cards again.

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  19. I was able to complete it in like 10 or 15 minutes, a few days ago… Good questions. Survey not too long, not too short. Overall…

    Maybe I just agree to some extent with
    …option to answer with greater detail would be nice:)

    Cheers :)

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  20. Early on it asks what my employer expects of me, only to later ask what kind of organization I work for. I am an IP so I treated the former question as my own expectations of myself and my clients expectations of me (which left me checking every single box).

    I would suggest asking the organization type early on and tailoring a few questions off of the answer. I would be very interested in some answers related to IP’s.

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  21. It was definitely a good first survey, though I have some comments like some of the others posted.

    Definately the biggest issue I see is in whether we are self-employed, someone who incorporated their business and is considered an employee of it, traditional business employees, unpaid interns or volunteers, or any combination of the above. Since I’ve always been a business owner/self-employed (literally, from the point I was legally able to work), I’ll show you what the way I felt like I had to answer some of these was. Who knows, it might give you an idea of how other business owners may have answered.

    #4. What is your job title?
    I typically try to answer those kinds of questions with what I do most often. So for this, I answered that – but already you are losing data because there is no question before it asking if I am a business owner or not (should be able to choose more than one).

    #6. Regardless of how competent you believe yourself to be, in which of these areas does your employer expect you to be proficient?
    For this I simply answered what I expected from myself.

    18. How many web design jobs have you held.
    I wasn’t sure about this question. Again seems geared toward the employer/employee thing, but my instinct was to answer this as how many clients I’d done work for. Obviously that’s not a good reflection of the number because it only goes up to 10 and its far beyond that. I could’ve instead answered ‘1’ since I’ve always worked for myself, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a good reflection either. Perhaps the question could instead ask – how many different websites have you worked on – that could potentially cover both freelancers and employees.

    Other comments – not related to the employee/employer thing.

    You might want to make #9 (What is your educational background?) a question that includes the word ‘some’. As in ‘some college’ or in some way indicating that the person might actually be in school currently. I sometimes portion out work to interns, so they would fit in that category of ‘some school.’

    Question #15. For how many years have you been working as a web professional?
    You might want to ask also how many years total someone has worked in the tech industry. You might find some interesting data about people who are web pros now who were previously in other fields. Personally, I started out as a desktop applications developer, then became a database architect, and then to web design. Might show some interesting data.

    Just my two cents :)

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  22. Like another commenter earlier, I was somewhat surprised to not see “Software Engineer” in the list of titles, so I was forced to choose “Other”.  I know that many software engineers do hate working on UI of any sort but there are some of us who like it and do quite a bit of it.  :)  In my job I do everything from database queries to Java/JSP to HTML/CSS to Javascript to graphic design.  But I guess the companies I’ve worked for have always required that their UI person also be able to handle large-scale server-side Java coding – cheaper than getting separate back-end & front-end developers, I guess!

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  23. Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your articles. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view”¦ makes you think more. Greetings

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  24. Is there an archive of people who have completed this form? It would be interesting to see who has.

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  25. I’ve not read all the messages, so someone else may have mentioned it … many of the questions weren’t that relevant to people who work in Education – teaching Web design.
    I noted earlier that someone else commented on the difficulties of self rating on skill sets – a binary choice between “can” & “can’t” doesn’t give much scope. A few more grades such as “know a little”, “know a reasonable amount” “Considered by my colleagues a guru – but I know that there’s still more I could learn” could be useful.

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  26. The introduction asked where we live, who we are, yet there are very few questions related to these issues.

    Do you own or rent?
    What city do you live in (there is a big difference between living in NYC and Burlington, VT)?
    What is your monthly housing cost?
    How do you get to work?
    -public transportation
    What do you think are the most relevant new technologies?
    -virtual worlds
    -online games

    More in-depth questions about technology would be great too..

    What platform do you use?

    What browser do you use for personal web surfing?

    What browser do you test web sites in?

    What software do you use (design)?
    What software do you use (development)?
    What software do you use (multimedia)?

    What other mediums are you developing/designing for?
    -Cell phone
    -online games
    -console games
    -online video

    What technology are you looking to add to your arsenal
    -video editing
    -video production
    -3D modelling
    -3D animation
    -mobile apps

    We could go alot deeper than this survey. I’ve seen surveys with these same questions for years, they are to general. You asked if we had a web site/blog. They are 2 VERY distinctly different things. Most web designers/developers have a portfolio site, sometimes their own, sometimes on a portal like CreativeHotlist. But other than showing off their work, how many of us are talking about what is going on in the world or our industry via blogs? Are they using text blogs or vlogs? How many to podcasts or vodcasts? How many own their own URL? How many own their own SWURL (Synthetic World URL)? What do we use for email (webmail, squirrel mail, office, etc)? What is their primary communication platform with clients (phone, email, face-to-face, web meeting, virtual world, letters, etc.).

    Come on, let’s get into the nitty gritty!

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  27. Thanks to all who commented on ways we might improve the survey as a tool for discovering where and how folks like us work. Many of these suggestions will find their way into next year’s survey.

    To those who wished the survey had asked about platforms, browsers, standards, etc., we will run a second survey later this year that asks precisely these kinds of questions.

    Two surveys are needed. The most critical survey, in our estimation, was the one that tried to find out who we are and how we work. That was the survey more than 30,000 of you have just completed. We will publish the results in about a month, and we will conduct the survey again next year.

    The second survey concerns skills and attitudes. Look for that survey in four or five months.

    A List Apart intends to run both surveys each year, about six months apart. Over the next few years, with your help and support, we will be able to sketch the first true picture of web design as it is practiced around the world. Thanks again.

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  28. Congratulations on taking the first step, ALA. It was a trail blazing effort, and I am honored that I had a chance to participate.

    Somewhere in this sea of comments I read an excellent observation, that this survey has “touched some nerves…” indeed. I think the complaints, feedback, and tide of comments stem from an enthusiastic, passionate (albeit sometimes juvenile and immature) crowd who wanted themselves represented as accurately as possible, afraid that the chance may never come ‘round again.

    Glad to see you’re taking it all in stride, and I hope the next one will be as illuminating as I expect this one will be.

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  29. … We will publish the results in about a month, …
    posted at 11:38 am on May 20, 2007 by Jeffrey Zeldman

    Can’t wait ;-)

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  30. eey all,

    overall the survey seems good, …


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  31. The suspense is killing me. Are you guys EVER going to post the results?

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  32. Come on guys, it’s been a month since the last promise, we’re dying of curiosity here!

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  33. Seriously, its been quite some time. Is there any progress?

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  34. Did something go wrong?

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  35. I too cannot wait!

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  36. Is everything ok?  Need help?  I’m really curious about the results and hoping that they aren’t too out of date when we see them.

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  37. The data will be becoming redundant soon it seems. I sure hope this wasn’t a data mining exercise.

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  38. Just seen Zeldman has announced they will be publishing the results today! Hooray for my sense of timing… :/

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  39. This message has been appeared.
    The web design survey is now closed.
    What’s next???

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  40. I like it

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  41. Noticed a typo on question 24. $10,000-$19,9999 has an extra 9. Thanks Don.

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  42. Matt Cutts from Google has included in his blogs that he intends to penalise websites that are “˜over optimised’ on back links, directory listings and inappropriate article submissions. I have kept my ears close to the ground on this issue and lately I have been reading a few horrific stories of the outcome. I don’t want to alarm or scaremonger but you will need to go out and find the facts for yourself and consider how it could impact on you if you are a website owner.

    The uncertainty at the moment is felt by all — whether web owners have participated in Good organic link building or even SEO Companies who have built up good portfolio’s and used proper “˜White Hat’ methods, nobody knows the outcome of the Google Algorithms. If you have access to Google analytics for your website all you can do is monitor the trends, the sad thing here is that there is no “˜system restore’ and if you have built up a number of poorly placed back links you will find it near impossible to have these removed. You Could ask your SEO specialist why your hits have dropped and ask what are they going to do about it.

    I know a few who are just sitting back and praying!

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