Zoe Holbrooks' Digital Eve and SIGIA_L survey

An iaslash reader suggested that we post Zoe Holbrooks' informal survey of Web professionals so it has been republished here with Zoe's permission. Thanks, Zoe. Back in June 2001, I did an informal survey of Digital Eve and ASIST's SIGIA_L folks who get paid to design, develop, deploy, and maintain Web sites for companies ranging from Internet start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. I asked if they hand coded their HTML, if they used editing programs (and which ones), what they thought their personal best skills were, and what they thought were the critical basic skills people aspiring to work in our industry are. Here's a snapshot of their responses. Who they are: Professional Web designers, developers, information architects, programmers, and information retrieval (search/taxonomy) specialists. Where they're from: Most respondents worked on the U.S. West Coast from Silicon Valley to Vancouver, British Columbia. However, people from the Midwest, New York City, Europe, and the Far East also responded. How much experience they have: Forty percent (40%) have between 1 and 4 years of industry working experience. Sixty percent have 5 or more years of paid industry experience. A couple of old timers had almost 10 years of experience each, making them the Wise Elders par excellence - because, after living through the fastest-moving, most mind-bending technological evolution in the past fifty thousand years, they're still working at it and (from the sound of their responses) loving it! How many hand code their HTML: Ninety-six percent (96%). Of those who hand code, 28% do so exclusively or almost always. The rest report using various editors. Most of the 72% who reported using editors commented that knowing how to hand code HTML was critical in order to correct problems with the editor-generated markup or otherwise tweak the code "under the hood." (There's no perfect editing package - most editing programs are a blend of a few really spiffy fantastic features and a lot of standard (or worse) features. Hence the need to make tweaks and fixes in the underlying HTML ... in a plain text editor ... by hand.) What software do they build their HTML with:

  • Dreamweaver -- 49%, most of these folks use Homesite as well.
  • Homesite -- 40%
  • Text program such as Notepad, Textpad, or the UNIX editors pico, vi, or emacs -- 28%
  • FrontPage -- 21%
  • BBEdit -- 11%
  • Miscellaneous Other -- 15%
What they consider their best skills personally:
  • Development / Tech skills, including databases, coding, etc. -- 40%
  • Information architecture skills, including information design and retrieval -- 32%
  • Communication skills -- 9%
  • Project Management skills -- 9%
  • Keeping skills current / continuing education -- 6%
What do they consider the "critical basic skills" for people getting into the industry:
  • Tech skills, such as coding, databases, new technologies (XML, etc.), and basic understanding of how the hardware and software of networks and computers work together -- 62%
  • Design and information architecture skills, such as graphics design, image production and manipulation, cross-browser issues, accessibility issues, usability and user experience, search behavior and taxonomy issues -- 45%
  • Soft skills, such as communication skills, keeping current with the industry trends in social contexts -- 40%
  • Thinking skills, such as critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, intellectual interest in the industry and its technologies, open-mindedness, ability to see others' perspectives (clients, coworkers) -- 32%
  • Management skills -- 25%