I took part in the A List Apart Survey last year (as I do every year) and I read through their excellent report a couple of weeks ago. It gives a great overview of the web industry worldwide and can highlight trends happening in the industry.
I have to admit though, as a member of the Irish web community, I was a bit disappointed to see that the Republic of Ireland didn’t make it into the top 20 respondents. I know we’re a small country (then again, India only made up 1.3% of the respondents, coming 10th) but I thought we might have a bigger impact than that.
I was curious, so I fired up my old spreadsheet app and downloaded the anonymised results provided by A List Apart and had a look at the Irish respondents.
I won’t lie
I was a bit underwhelmed. Actually I was completely underwhelmed. 77 people, living and working in Ireland, did the survey.
Shortly after, I read a blog post from Eric Meyer and I found out that the number of respondents was down by a little under 50% from the previous year, so I checked out previous years and found out that in 2009, 148 people in Ireland did the survey and 206 in 2008.
The drop in respondents is obvious, both worldwide and in Ireland (and I assume every country the same). On Meyer’s blog post, a few commenters claimed to be ‘tired’ of the survey- I would assume it’s because the results are pretty consistent from year to year and there doesn’t seem to be any return for the participants. I mean, I participated and then read the results, but none of the data, as interesting as it is, will really have any effect on my business.
Added to this, the survey seemed to be ‘less visible’ than previous years- it went by very quietly and if you weren’t subscribed to the A List Apart RSS feed or followed them on Twitter, you would easily miss it.
In my very humble opinion, to increase respondents generally and in individual countries, I think there needs to be a return for the respondents.
The obvious one is to raffle a prize amongst respondents, iPads seems to be the prize for every survey I see. I would assume it would be a good advertising opportunity for any industry-relevant business/organisation to sponsor a prize for the A List Apart survey.
The second carrot I would dangle in front of respondents would be more useful information, specific to the respondent’s country of work and residence.
From my perspective, I’d love to be able to check an online reputable source for things such as-
- The average hourly rate, for freelancers or studios/agencies (the A List Apart survey asks this, I know)
- The average cost for a predefined project, or projects, for freelancers or studios/agencies
- The division in costs in aforementioned projects, by research, design, development, UX, etc.
- The overhead rate, per hour, for freelancers or studios/agencies
I’d love to see this data on a country-specific basis. Rates in the US or even our neighbours in the UK, do not usually correspond to rates in Ireland. This data would be useful and could be compared with worldwide rates.
I think the Irish web industry could be an industry that grows well beyond the borders of the country, if we can compete on a worldwide scale. I don’t think our per-hour rates will ever be as low as, say, India (with their huge population) but I think the fact that English is our native language could be a great selling point for us. The web is an industry where the end product can be exported without the physical logistics issues associated with nearly every other industry.
It may seem fine for me to offer suggestions, but I am also going to offer my assistance, if required, to A List Apart to see if I can help with any aspect of the survey. Even if my help isn’t required, I’m still going to make a better effort, personally, to publicise the survey within Ireland.
I feel that having this data, whether on a broad or very specific level, does help our industry as a whole, and what helps the industry will eventually trickle down and help us on an individual level as well.