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First Ever Web Design Survey Results 170

rainhill writes "In April 2007, A List Apart and An Event Apart conducted a survey of people who make websites. Close to 33,000 web professionals answered the survey's 37 questions, providing the first data ever collected on the business of web design and development (PDF) as practiced in the US and worldwide. Among the findings: over 70% of people in this field earn less than $60K per year. There is little gender bias in salary. And over 70% of Web workers post to a blog; this number shows very little dropoff with age."
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First Ever Web Design Survey Results

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2007 @11:22AM (#21025443)
    Sigh... at least it's not a giant image of text.
    • by ploafmaster general ( 920649 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @01:32PM (#21027847) Homepage
      I never thought I'd say this, but R T F A. I know the post didn't link to the article itself, but I think we're all intelligent enough to go up a level or two in the URL to see the article itself.

      Immediately below the download button you see:
      "Findings From the Web Design Survey (1.6 MB PDF)"

      I don't think 1.6 MB is too huge for us nerdy Slash-dotters with our high speed connections, especially when we've been warned. And I don't think any reader here can justify clicking the link without first knowing what file type it is.

      Additional details about the PDF choice:
      "Note: This PDF has been tagged for accessibility, however the graphics representing the complex charts do not yet have equivalents. An updated document will be available soon."

      Anyway, they have the raw data available as well in multiple formats (with sizes indicated) so you can avoid charts if you want.

      • bah... the could have used SVGs for the graphs... At least that's what all the cool web developers use.
      • by fishdan ( 569872 )

        The problem is not the charts, but the information itself. Although Google reads PDFs and puts them into it's index, PDF is fundamentally a printing format, and not easily searchable by a browser.

        Having the raw data available is fine, but the raw fact is this -- they chose to not express this report in a web format, when it would have been trivial to do so. Also, they have the raw data available in ZIP files!!! Is there a browser out there that does not support gzip? (Well yes, of course, but the are s

  • Nobody has done a survey of web designers since 1994? Bull-shit.
    • This was a reasonably representative survey of all web designers? Bull-shit.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by codeshack ( 753630 )
        Probably it's not a bad sample. I don't trust any web designer that doesn't read A List Apart -- it's pretty much the creme de la web design sources, both in terms of style, technique, and best practices. My old boss used to mandate it.

        And yes, I am a shill. But they have taught me many clever things, and turned me into a CSS Nazi to boot. And I filled out the survey way back when it started (feels like awhile).
        • If you RTFS(urvey) it's a survey of a wide range of job types.
        • In fact, just realised the title is "First Ever Web Design Survey Results", Not Web Designer

        • Probably it's not a bad sample. I don't trust any web designer that doesn't read A List Apart
          At my company, there's a lot of designers who don't read A List Apart. There's also a lot of designers who are very bad at it. I wouldn't hire my company to design a web site.

          My point is, this is not a representative sample. Maybe representative of the good designers, but definitely not of all designers.
        • There are a lot of bad designers, that still read A List Apart. Just like there are a lot of bad golfers, who follow Tiger Woods.
        • There's only one site worth mandating, and that's Even then, they could simply download the standards, and refer to them locally. You don't have to be a sheep following some website to be a good designer or web developer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by The_Crowder ( 946902 )
      Yeah, the title of this headline is completely misleading. The Usability Professionals' Association has been surveying professionals for several years. Go to their homepage [] and under News is the results (pdf warning) [] for the 2005 survey. Are these two surveys different? Yes. My point is that the title of this headline is completely misleading.
  • Bias? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @11:28AM (#21025553) Homepage

    There is little gender bias in salary.
    It would be better to say that there is little difference in salary; 'bias' has negative connotations of unfairness. As research in this area shows, it is hard to pinpoint which salary differences are actually discriminatory and which are not, but reflect objective factors (amount of hours worked, etc. etc.).

    I don't mean to start an offtopic discussion, just wanted to point out that the choice of word there might bait people.
    • Re:Bias? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by foobsr ( 693224 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @12:37PM (#21026711) Homepage Journal
      I don't mean to start an offtopic discussion

      You may turn that into one that is completely on topic by mentioning that their use of the term 'bias' might shine a light on the overall quality of their research on the basis of a self-selecting sample, which they are not shy to advertise to give a 'true' picture, which again shows that they do no less than nothing about statistics based research. They don't even come to a conclusive result regarding the count of items their questionnaire might have, 36 or 37 (here [] — does not matter, just a fence-post error.

      However, the meta-result to me is that they again expose themselves as half-educated and overhyped. Yes, I do not particularly like them, along with Dash, Pirillo, ... you name them.

    • The use of the word "bias" in statistics means "a systematic distortion of a statistical result due to a factor not allowed for in its derivation." This meaning is quite different from that of the common usage of "bias." (Thanks NOAD.)
      • by oni ( 41625 )
        That's clearly NOT the meaning that the authors intended, as evidenced by use of the word "perceived." This was a survey where they asked people, "do you perceive any bias here" and then they compared the salaries of people who perceived bias with those who did not. The only possible way to interpret the word bias in this context is unfair discrimination.

        And the results are quite interesting. If a woman *thinks* there is discrimination, she tends to make more money than a woman who doesn't think there is
    • It would be better to say that there is little difference in salary; 'bias' has negative connotations of unfairness.


      Gender bias in salary is, somehow, not unfair?

      The '80s called. They want their bias back.
      • Gender bias is unfair, of course. That question is, is the existing difference in average salary due to bias / discrimination, or other factors. The research community is divided on this issue, it is complex.

        For example, women tend to work at more part-time positions, and part-time positions tend to get paid less per hour (workplaces prefer to hire full-time employees).
  • by pzs ( 857406 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @11:37AM (#21025699)
    A few years ago, I worked for the head of a major University computer science department in the UK. I was in charge of building the web page for our research project. My boss told me "whatever you do, my main preference in all these things is that it hast to look good."

    For inspiration, I visited the home-page of this arch aesthete. I discovered that his page, entirely in an overlarge Times font, used big thick-bordered frames (with scroll bars) a fantastically pixellated jpg of him and big flashing "new!" buttons next to various bits of the page.

    Somehow, I managed not to laugh next time I discussed the page with him.
    • by Stamen ( 745223 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @11:48AM (#21025887)
      Style is a subtle thing, very subtle. A lot of people, simply can't distinguish good from bad. Really awesome design looks like anyone could of created it in 5 minutes; which of course they can't, but that's the genius of it.

      For me it's music, I don't hear in a very wide range (so say my hearing tests), and I exasperate my co-worker, who is an audiophile, because I simply can't hear the difference, like he can. The "horrible" pop music, with terrible range, sounds the same as "good" music to me.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by HartDev ( 1155203 )
        I am glad that the people who make scam web pages and garbage sites have no design sense and give themselves away quickly. THIS IS NOT A SCAM is the best indicator ever! Especially when it is in large, bold, blinking red text!
      • And a lot of people can't distinguish good and bad, but like me when it comes to design something, it WILL be bad even for them. Let's face it, most people can't design just like most people can't program (I think often it's only one of those two skills).
        • by Stamen ( 745223 )

          I think often it's only one of those two skills

          I completely disagree. I think most programmers just aren't interested in design and have spent all of 20 minutes, or less, thinking about it. If someone spent 20 minutes learning how to program, they'd hardly be any good at it.

          What makes beautiful code --code that is simple yet complete, powerful yet flexible-- is the exact same things that makes beautiful design. I believe that "beauty" is an intrinsic truth of the universe; wether mathematical, musical, or visual. If you are creating, no matter what

    • by brainproxy ( 654715 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @12:43PM (#21026879)
      It makes sense that if he could not create a "stylish" page, he hired a professional web designer, (guessing you).

      You should give him the benefit of the doubt. A lot of art critics are not, themselves, artists.

      Sounds like he knew of this deficit an gave you the job.
    • by Tim C ( 15259 )
      As another poster pointed out, he most likely knew that he couldn't create the sort of look he wanted, which is precisely why he hired you.

      For my part, I can do HTML, JS, CSS, etc; but I'm a programmer, not a designer. You want functional, I'm your man. You want stylish, good looking - go talk to someone else. I'll happily do the back end, and integrate the finished HTML page to make it function, but you'll be wanting someone else to do the artistic stuff.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ~$60k/year or less sounds quite about right. Web design isn't rocket science.

    People who don't suck at graphic design are a dime a dozen. People who can chop up a PSD and write valid XHTML are a dime a dozen. People who can apply cheap hacks to make it work in Internet Explorer are slightly more expensive at a quarter a dozen, but that's still damned cheap.

    The real money's in development of all this fancy Web 2.0 Ajaxy crap, web-based services, et cetera. Bit more involved than mere 'web design'.

  • Wrong survey (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @11:44AM (#21025807) Journal
    A web design survey? I thought they were going to be asking web users how they felt about various web designs. That would be a survey I'd really like to see happen. Maybe us users could communicate to the designers exactly how we feel about their designs. Maybe they could ask how many web users like it when a website takes over the windowing functions your browser should be managing. If I want to open a link in a new window, I'll do it myself TYVM. Or maybe they could ask how users feel about being tied to flash based in browser media players, instead of getting an old fashioned .avi to download. This is the kind of web design survey we really need.
    • You're still assuming that the people who are PAYING for the websites to be built really care about (or have the capacity to understand) what the users would like. Even now, with all the research and data available for us designers to argue with for simplicity and usability, the folks who sign the check want what they want and as long as I need to pay rent, they'll get it.

      That said, I've talked many, many clients out of building a site entirely in Flash - and they promptly found another designer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      A survey might not give accurate results because what people say they like is not always what they respond to. There's a pretty great presentation by Malcolm Gladwell [] about this.

      For example, everyone says they dislike blue underlined links. But in my (admittedly anecdotal) experience there is no better way to let a user know where to click.

      So I'd like to see the data you're looking for too... but I bet a test vs. a survey would yield very different results.
    • by mstahl ( 701501 )

      A lot of the stuff you're complaining about isn't really in the hands of web designers or developers. I will come clean, now, and confess that I have committed some of those sins you describe, but only at the urging of a client. And when the client's paying my bills, I do what they say, even if it feels a little dirty sometimes.

      A couple of examples of bizarre client behaviour....

      I once had a client (and I'm going to spare them the embarrassment of saying who they were; suffice it to say they're among the

  • I know the average age of the respondents is pretty young, but those salaries are shockingly low.
    • I know lots of people who are independent web developers, and they pick and choose their clients not for the high pay, but for interest in their field (non profits, politics, small business, etc). As well, as an independent you can write off a lot of your expenses, so $60k translates to much more. Finally, you get a lot more freedom, which sometimes leads to not working all the time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...there are 33,000 web professionals.

    I thought that, for many people, it was very much an "on the side" activity.
  • I occasionally take a look at Web Pages That Suck [] to get a feel for what NOT to do.

    In summary: don't be doing this []. It's not big, and it's not clever.
    • Holy crap.

      It's the mother that spawned MySpace!

    •, wow. I mean, that's so bad it's impressive. 2.75M page size! No wonder it takes forever to load. That's just as bad as but for entirely different reasons.
    • ... It's not big, and it's not clever ...

      I agree it's not clever, but boy was it big!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by alyawn ( 694153 )

      In summary: don't be doing this []. It's not big, and it's not clever.
      You need to warn people w/ a NSFW. I practically fell out of my chair!
    • That's absolutely beyond belief...

      Incredibly, they do offer web design courses: []

      (Surely it's a joke though? A standard page format, each one populated by "Eliza"?)
    • How the fuck does one page have more than 2MB of content to download, excluding audio and videos?
  • by MeditationSensation ( 1121241 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @11:54AM (#21025963) Homepage
    That there are 33,000 web design "professionals" out there... or that they have enough downtime to fill out a silly survey. ;-)
  • About the wages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2007 @11:54AM (#21025975)
    The low wage made by most web designers is a product of supply and demand. The barriers to entry for web design are low. In other words, almost anyone can create a web page and call themselves a designer.

    The sign industry went through the same problem when it computerized. Prior to computerization, signmakers had to have the skill to produce letters using a brush. After computerization, anybody could crank out vinyl letters quickly and cheaply. What the signmakers learned was that, if you wanted to make decent money, you actually had to be a good designer. People will pay good money for signs that work. IMHO, people will also pay good money for websites that work. Ah but there's the rub. WORK. For a sign, 'work' means that you get twice as many customers walking into your business. It probably means the same for a website.

    To prosper, web designers should probably know a lot more about 'design' (design doesn't mean 'pretty' or 'eye candy') and they should know a lot more about marketing.

    PS, to the major (radio, tv and print) advertising company whose website is very pretty but takes five minutes to load - you guys are clueless.
    • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      IMHO, people will also pay good money for websites that work. Ah but there's the rub. WORK. For a sign, 'work' means that you get twice as many customers walking into your business. It probably means the same for a website.

      Sadly, it does not. A person who knows nothing about sign-making can easily look at a sign and see whether it "works" or not. A person who knows nothing about web design can't look at a website and judge whether it "works" or not. Chances are they are using Internet Explorer. Do

    • More important would be to control for hours worked. Annual salary is meaningless without reference to the number of hours it took to get there.
  • They didn't ask how many designed web site that were usable only with IE.
    and then why?
    • There actually seem to be very few IE-only sites left. Firefox 2 is VERY good about dealing with IE-centric sites. The compatibility problems are with earlier versions of IE, and earlier versions of Firefox.

      And with the giant turd-ball of shite known as Flash 9.

      We just went through this with a design company that others-who-shall-not-be-named hired to "design" our new corporate web site. They delivered pages that were only compatible with IE7 and Flash 9. Actually, they worked with Firefox and Flash 9, too,
  • If you read the results you'll find its actually asking anyone involved with the web really. This really annoys me coming from such a respected publication.
    The Job Title for example shows 25% are in fact developers, 19.9% are web designers and even includes writers/editors making up the other 55%. Without understanding which job titles correlate to all the other questions it seems a bit pointless. I know some of the biases compare the different titles but not many.
    • by AVee ( 557523 )
      Thats cool, even I could be included. I just wrote a line of text and it's on a webpage...
  • I mean, actual Designers? Sure, plenty of HTML/CSS jockeys do, but that's a whole different discipline. And I wonder what the ratio of HTML jockey to designer was amongst the 33,000 people who responded to the survey was...

    My experience -- not academia, not corporate intranet, not "blogosphere," not Church Group, but entertainment industry -- is that people pay pretty well for a new site design. But my guess is that better than half of the people who responded to the survey hardly even speak the same lan
  • There's a big problem design in general faces. It's seriously undervalued. And I think the problem stems from accessibility. Desktop publishing has inspired a revolution in design, but at the same time it's been very detrimental to the industry.

    It has made design tools pervasive. It's created this attitude that good design is something anyone can do provided they know how to use to the software. It's completely screwed with expectations on the part of clients. Some guy in sales believes it should take me a
  • Not enough VACATION (Score:2, Interesting)

    by careysb ( 566113 )
    Interesting (and lots of) statistics, but what struck me the most was that over 50% of the respondents were getting 3 weeks or less of vacation a year. That includes people with a wide range of longevity in their jobs and years in the profession.
  • Maybe I'm not getting paid enough but 60k is the benchmark!? Personally I'd be grateful to make 35-40k and that's senior admin level. Am I getting screwed?