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In this first section of the survey, we asked respondents a series of questions to get a sense of where they come from, the type of organization and industry sector they work in, and what they saw their professional role as.

How did we reach the audience?

As with our first survey, we used a low key approach to reach a wide variety of web professionals, particularly those who design and build web sites. It needs to be noted that this is not a random survey, and those who chose to take the survey are self selecting. Nonetheless, there’s a broad cross section of locations, industry sectors and employer sizes that suggests we’ve reached beyond simply one narrow segment of the web industry.

As such, we believe there’s a strong overlap between the respondents to each survey, and so trends in technology use, and the adoption of various practices hopefully reflect underlying trends, rather than simply a shift in the nature of the body of respondents

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 web focussed and 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.

This year we aimed for a more viral approach to spreading the word about the survey. We emailed the list of respondents from last year, our database of past conference attendees, and announced the survey via twitter, where it was re-tweeted considerably.

The survey was open for the month of February 2010. In total, just over 1400 (1402) people responded to the survey. Our previous survey took place just over 12 months before that, during late December 2008.

How did respondents 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 role, and also to allow us to correlate philosophies and the use of various technologies according to how respondents identified themselves.

36% of respondents identified themselves as designers (relatively steady compared with 33% from the last survey), and over half (56%) (up from 48.5%) as developers. This would seem to reflect the increasing emphasis on the use of JavaScript, and server side programming as a standard part of web design and development, with respondents seeing their role more as development than design. In the “other” category, where we gave respondents the opportunity to nominate their role, a significant number specifically referred to being “designers and developers”. Despite recent debate about whether “web designers” need to be able to actually code their designs, for this audience there would seem to be no issue there. Development is a key aspect of the role of the majority of our respondents.

In the summary of last years survey we observed

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.

It would appear that at least among the audience we are reaching, that trend is holding. More are describing their role as, or including, development, and fewer solely as design this year from last.

How would you describe yourself?

Description Count
Designer 518
Developer 790
Other 199

Where did respondents come from?

Geographically, respondents came from all over the world, though with an unsurprising preponderance from North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. This would reflect the nature of our particular networks (our being based in Australia, 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.

Where do respondents work?

Organization size

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 3% (down from 6%) and 2% respectively, all the other sizes are quite similarly represented, at between 16% and 22% of the respondents. This means there are good sample sizes for comparing responses by organization size, and hopefully reflects some diversity of respondent.

What size organization do you work for?

Sector Count %
Student 44 3.14%
Hobbyist 24 1.71%
Freelancer 299 21.33%
Small Organization (up to 10) 298 21.26%
Medium Organization (up to 50) 258 18.4%
Large Organization (up to 500) 237 16.9%
Huge Organization (more than 500) 228 16.26%
Other 7 0.5%
Sector Count %
Student 68 5.51%
Hobbyist 21 1.70%
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%

Industry Sectors

For this part of the survey, we made the first of the changes, by adding a new sector “Web Focussed Agency”, in addition to “Digital Design Agency”. Our intent was to determine how many respondents worked in what might be considered specialist web development/design agencies, as opposed to traditional media agencies, which focus on much more than just web design amnd development. Not surprisingly, a large percentage (37%) of respondents work in Web Focussed Agencies, and another 9% Digital Design Agencies. As with the previous survey, there was a definite long tail effect, with similar percentages from various sectors as in late 2008 responding.

Which sector do you work in?

Sector Count %
Web Focussed Agency 512 36.52
Digital Design Agency 126 8.99%
Construction & Property 6 0.43%
Consumer Goods 13 0.93%
Banking & Finance 34 2.43%
Health 21 1.5%
Industrials 0 0%
Leisure 8 0.57%
Media 80 5.71%
Natural Resources 1 0.07%
Retail 18 1.28%
Technology 167 11.91%
Telecoms 18 1.28%
Transport 6 0.43%
Utilities 1 0.07%
Engineering 11 0.78%
Local Government 17 1.21%
State/Regional Government 29 2.07%
National Government 32 2.28%
Charity/Not for Profit 52 3.71%
Education 108 7.7%
Other 132 9.42%
Sector Count %
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%

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, users of twitter), it’s reasonable to surmise that they are more early adopter than early majority in profile. The fact that they are far more likely to work in sectors like Technology and Design Agencies than utilities and industrials also suggests this. 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. We’ll find out a lot more about them as we consider the rest of the results.


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.

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I’ve been admiring the Web Directions events for years, and was honored to be part… What a fantastic event!

Ethan Marcotte Inventor of 'Responsive Web Design'