October 16, 2007

ALA Web Design Survey Findings

Months of work analyzing, crunching, writing, and designing the answers from nearly 33,000 people, and we finally have the Findings from the Web Design Survey. Some of the findings are very enlightening, but I won’t spoil anything here, you’ll have to read for yourself. We’ve learned so much during this process, not only about what questions to ask, but how to ask them. The information and experience gained this year will make next year’s report that much better. For a lot more detail on the process, from survey to PDF, check out Eric’s post: Analytical Breakdowns.

I wish I had many more months to labor over the design of this document, but I spent as long as we were able. I haven’t worked with this many graphs and tables in a very long time, but it felt good to do some print work again. The last time I did a print file of this size I was still using Quark, and I gotta say, InDesign is a vast and welcome improvement in that department. All of the charts and tables were prepared in Numbers, and placed into InDesign as PDFs (keeping the text live and selectable in the final PDF). We tried to ensure it reads well on screen (so that people wouldn’t need to print it out just to read it) and in printed form. Getting the colors to work well enough in both mediums was just a pain. As exhausted as we all are of working on this, I’m actually already looking forward to tackling next year’s document, at least from a design perspective.

So, please head on over and check out the findings. We’ve also offered the raw anonymized data, if you would like to crunch the numbers differently, or would just like to print out 33,000 responses to all the questions and wallpaper your house.

Great job Eric, Jeffrey, Erin and the rest of the gang. Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey, you’ve done a service to our community.

Commentary (19):

1. Jacquelynn Hongosh says… oct 16, 2007 | 10:38 pm

I think it was Daniel Mall who said, “Ideas sell. Ideas that look great sell more,” and the ALA Survey design is definitely a great example of that. It’s beautiful and a pleasure to read, and definitely made me spend just a little longer pouring over the numbers than I might have otherwise. I’m a frequent reader of your blog, but haven’t ever commented, but this just pushed me to do so. Kudos.

2. Jim says… oct 16, 2007 | 10:40 pm

I’ve been waiting for this - thanks for posting a note about it here!

3. Ms. Jen says… oct 17, 2007 | 2:46 am

Thank you! Y’all did a great job with a huge amount of data.


4. Kees says… oct 17, 2007 | 3:39 am

Honestly, a real great job - that holds for all of you.

Respectively, I have a design related question. Which tool did you use for the graphs?

I am interested in this since I have a lot of research upcoming and the look-and-feel are important to me.

Keep the good work flowing ;)

5. Stevie K says… oct 17, 2007 | 5:55 am

Good work, the first thing I’ve done today is read it all the way to the bottom, not something I do often with surveys. This was even before I’d had my cup of tea.

6. Eric Meyer says… oct 17, 2007 | 8:27 am

Kees, we used Numbers to create the graphs, which Jason then brought over to InDesign for final layout. For more details on that and way too many other things, see my post on the process over at meyerweb.

7. Jason Beaird says… oct 17, 2007 | 9:23 am

Terrific job Jason, and everyone else who made this happen. In one inaugural push, you guys have put together a report that is many times more elegant and more applicable to us than any other similar effort. I’ve always enjoyed reading the AIGA|Aquent Salary survey, but with 33,000 responses (vs AIGA’s 4,900), this report offers a much greater scope and a more accurate disclosure. This is a great resource for anyone who works on the web. Thank you!

8. Chris Harrison says… oct 17, 2007 | 10:29 am

Excellent work on the report. It couldn’t have been easy pouring through the sheer number of responses you all had and turning it into something meaningful and digestable. This report far exceeded my expectations. You guys deserve a beer or three for your hard work on this one.

9. Ben says… oct 17, 2007 | 12:46 pm

Just one minor nitpick on colors and printing: the colors on the charts do not differentiate well when printed in grayscale. Why is this important? Because some budgets preclude printing in color all the time and especially for an 81 page document. But otherwise the design is beautiful, it works extremely well for on-screen reading, and the information is truly interesting!

10. Jason Santa Maria says… oct 17, 2007 | 1:35 pm

Ben: I actually tested it out on a black and white printer and found it held up very well. I guess you can’t plan for all contingencies. Sorry about that!

11. John Wesson says… oct 17, 2007 | 10:11 pm

Hi Jason,

I jst gotta ask—what fonts are used in the report? I’m guessing Gill Sans and Garamond? Looks absolutely top drawer.


12. Jason Santa Maria says… oct 17, 2007 | 10:16 pm

John Wesson: Thanks for the compliment! You were really close, the typefaces are Garamond Premier Pro and Gotham (with a sprinkling of Gotham Condensed where necessary in the tables).

13. Ben says… oct 17, 2007 | 11:04 pm

Re: B/W printing - yeah, you can’t really test every possible printer and ink combination! I just think the colors could use just a tad more “value” differentiation. But as noted, you can’t test every combination, and in general, despite my poor printer, the colors still work well. I too add my accolades to the great type choices. I thought that was a Garamond…that Q is really quite beautiful.

14. Richard B says… oct 18, 2007 | 8:29 am

Thank you for this. I have been looking forward to seeing the results. Extremely useful information and some surprises too, especially from the ethnic point of view.

Good work from the guys, and a huge response too. Really useful.

15. John Wesson says… oct 18, 2007 | 9:56 am

Thanks, Jason. I really meant to say “typefaces”! ;)

16. Todd Dominey says… oct 18, 2007 | 10:41 am

Great design Jason. I sometimes miss print work as well. Sometimes. ;)

17. Jared says… oct 19, 2007 | 10:18 am

I almost completely forgot I even took this thing. Glad to see the results. Even though I only had a short amount of time to glance this over, the results seemed very interesting. Great work on the design by the way. Gotham is always an excellent choice.

18. Eoghan McCabe says… oct 21, 2007 | 4:40 pm

Looks great, Jason. Good work.

19. Andrea Bo says… oct 22, 2007 | 7:32 pm

I love you jason! you are like … how do you call it … my mohamed to my design jesus… je t’aime