Project Management

Web survey confirms the obvious

Web Design blog A List Apart has published the results of their first annual survey of web professionals, and the results should surprise absolutely nobody. I'll take this opportunity to break down the results (Warning: statistics ahead).

Web Design blog A List Apart has published the results of their first annual survey of web professionals, and the results should surprise absolutely nobody. I'll take this opportunity to break down the results (Warning: statistics ahead).

The survey was comprised of 37 questions and receiving 33,000 responses and paints a graphic picture of the modern web designer: White male in their twenties with a bachelor degree.

The results, which can be read on the blog, certainly do contain some insights about the state of the industry. As we go on, keep in mind that the responses were voluntary and the survey were announced on an english language blog, so it's going to be strongly biased towards english speaking countries.

Let's start with the basics. We're male - more than 82% of us, no surprise there. More interesting is the breakdown of job titles by gender - only 7.2% of developers identified themselves as female, compared to 41.6% percent of web writers and editors. User Interface designers and creative or art directors were also overwhelmingly male, while usability experts and producers ended up having a quarter of their respondents female. Unfortunately, it appears that the I.T. gender gap is no closer to being closed, and could continue to effect the industry..

We're also white — 84.6% percent of those who responded, anyhow. The size of this disparity is a little surprising, even taking into account that more than half the responses were from North America, and another thirty percent hailed from Europe (for those playing at home, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania racked up a paltry 4.7%). The Web is becoming the dominant media form in the world, it's a bit disappointing to see the lack of diversity in these figures. Then again, it's possible that only white guys read the A List Apart blog.

The young age of the industry is reflected in the ages of it's practitioners, with almost 70 percent of responders putting their age down at 32 years or younger. The percentage of developers sharply decreases with age, peaking at just over 30% of respondents 21-24 but making up just 8.7% of respondents aged at 60 or more. Conversely the percentage of writers increases steadily with age, from 0.7% at 22-24 to 5.8% at 60. Also interesting is that the number of respondents listing "Other" also increases steadily with age — possibly due to web professionals moving into management positions not listed.

Taking a look at the level of education, the survey shows that more than three quarters of the sample have a college degree of some kind, with the majority (more than half of total respondents) having a bachelor's degree. Unfortunately the survey did not seem to include questions about which field these qualifications were in, although only 53% of respondents felt that their qualifications were relevant to their work. Interestingly, of those earning more than $100,000 US only 43% of responders felt their education was relevant.

When these figures are compared with job title, almost 70% of designers (and 54% of Web designers) felt their qualifications were relevant, compared with 60.2% of developers and 37.2% of project managers, but only 21.3% percent of writers felt that their university education was relevant.

Finally we get to the money. The news for Web professionals dreaming of making it big is less than encouraging. Almost half of respondents to the survey make less than $40,000 US — and 27.3% are making less than $20,000. The study commentary puts this down to the prevalence of part time Web design businesses, as well as self employed freelancers. Only 6 percent of responders were making more than $100,000.

If your aim is to hit that one hundred grand figure, then according to the study, your best bets are working for a for-profit corporation or a start up. Be warned, however, more than 31% of worker for start up put their salary at under $20,000 compared to just over half that are working for the man.

Lastly, in the least surprising figure of the all, almost three quarters (75%) said that they had their own personal blog, a figure that remained more or less constant when correlated with gender or profession but declined slightly with age.

There's plenty more to be found in the results — I won't go into them here, but there are figures that include types of training, skills (and skill gaps) and bias correlations — but the survey's conclusions miss some interesting potential comparisons. I'd love to see a breakdown of claimed skills to salary, for starters, but the potential is there, due to the survey's organisers releasing the data (anonymised) to the public via their blog and are encouraging people to draw their own conclusions.

Here at Builder AU we'd also love to see what the community thinks of the results, why don't you drop us a line with how well you think they reflect the Web industry.

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