In today’s look at the latest research for web designers, we’re going to look at studies and reports from Payoneer, Robert Half, Hootsuite, and Contentsquare to see what they have to say about things like:

  • Current freelancer demand
  • Web designer earning potential
  • A change in ecommerce shopping trends
  • Unseen content rates

1. There’s Light At the End of the COVID-19 Tunnel for Freelancers

Payoneer’s The State of Freelancing During COVID-19 had to take a different approach to reporting on the freelancer workforce than in years passed.

Here’s why:

When 1000+ freelancers around the globe were asked how demand for their services changed during COVID-19, this was the response:

Less than 17% of freelancers experienced an increase in demand for their services and less than 23% saw demand remain the same.

An overwhelming majority of freelancers experienced a shrink in demand, with nearly 29% saying it slightly decreased while almost 32% said it greatly decreased.

However, the data collected wasn’t just assessed on a global scale. Payoneer also looked at freelancing demand trends in various parts of the world:

Notice the differences between Asia and Australia (who were hit with COVID-19 earlier) and North America and Europe (where the pandemic arrived a little later).

It appears as though Asian and Australian freelancers are, economically speaking, already starting to feel the effects of recovery from the pandemic with demand working in their favor.

So, if you’re feeling like there’s no end to the hardships you’ve faced during COVID-19, and were considering dropping your prices, hold on for just a little bit longer. Freelancers are starting to feel optimistic about demand for their services increasing. If you go devaluing yourself now, it’ll be hard to return to where you were before COVID-19 when things get back to normal.

2. Robert Half’s Salary Guide Breaks Down the Earning Potential for Web Designers

On a related note, let’s talk about demand from the employer’s point of view.

According to Robert Half’s 2020 Salary Guide for creative marketing professionals, there’s big demand for digital talent:

So, that’s number one. We know that almost 50% of hiring managers feel as though their digital teams are inadequately staffed. That’s good news for web designers.

However, these same managers complain about creative marketing professionals’ lack of up-to-date skills as the biggest barrier to hiring or retaining them. Although the report doesn’t say so, I’m going to assume this refers both to employees as well as contractors.

This should be a no-brainer. By keeping up with the latest web design trends and techniques, you can make top-dollar for your services — and hold onto those valuable client relationships for a long time.

According to the report, this is how much you stand to earn working in web design (in the U.S.) today:

If you’re eyeballing those salaries in the 95th percentile, then you know what you need to do. Hiring managers have spoken up about what’s holding them back from hiring.

For those of you who feel as though you’ve gone as far as you can as a web designer, it might be worth exploring a new specialty. Like one of the following:

As you can see, designers in the UI, UX, and interactive space (along with web developers) have the opportunity to make more money, even earlier on in their careers. You may also find that more job opportunities are available as you move into these niches (because of less competition), which might cut down on any demand issues you’ve been experiencing because of COVID-19.

3. Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 Report Reveals an Interesting Trend in Ecommerce

Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report is always a great resource for learning about social media marketing trends. That said, that’s not why I read it.

It’s for hidden gems like these:

It’s no surprise that we’re seeing changes in retail and ecommerce during COVID-19. What is a surprise, however, is how consumers’ online shopping habits have changed.

Here’s what we’re seeing when we compare 2020 ecommerce data with the pre-COVID benchmarks:

Site visits are 1.7% lower than expected. That would make sense considering how budget-conscious consumers are right now. It likely keeps them from going on unnecessary shopping sprees.

Session durations are 3.3% lower. This could be related to fewer site visits. It might also indicate greater consumer confidence. If they come to a website with a plan for what they need to buy, they’re going to take a straight line to conversion instead of spending time window shopping that prolongs their session.

The number of transactions is 19.1% higher and the conversion rate is 21.6% higher. Considering shoppers aren’t spending as much time with ecommerce websites, this point suggests that there’s a massive shift happening from in-store shopping to online shopping.

If that’s the case (even if consumers are currently spending less money), that means web designers need to set their sights on the ecommerce space. With the holiday shopping season expected to start sooner rather than later this year, now is the time to get in there and make sure these sites provide as streamlined an experience as possible.

4. Contentsquare Studies the Unseen Content Rates By Industry

Contentsquare analyzed more than 7 billion user sessions globally to create the 2020 Digital Experience Benchmarks report.

There’s some interesting data in here about website traffic and conversion trends, but what I find the most valuable is the breakdown by industry.

It was this chart, in particular, that really caught my eye:

According to Contentsquare’s data, between 60% and 75% of a website’s content is unseen. Some industries fare better than others, like home supplies and luxury retailer websites, but the numbers still aren’t flattering.

For example, what does it mean when consumers miss 75% of a financial service provider’s content?

Does this mean that the financial advisory content — which I’m assuming comprises the bulk of the pages on the site — is useless or irrelevant? Or perhaps it’s an issue of discoverability since blog content and other resources often take a backseat to service and product promotion?

What about ecommerce brands in the apparel or beauty space?

If two-thirds of their pages are unseen, does that mean their websites are overrun with obsolete inventory? Or, again, is it an issue of navigability and discoverability around the store?

As a web designer, I’d suggest performing your own unseen content analysis on the websites you’ve built. If over 60% of your pages never get any views, you’re going to have to decide what to do with them:

Option 1: Fix the navigation or search function so people can actually find these unseen pages.

Option 2: Remove them from the site and make room for content your visitors actually find valuable.

Wrap-Up

As you encounter research and reports online — whether it’s written specifically for web designers or other creative professionals — spend some time looking for hidden gems.

As you can see above, there’s a ton of relevant research for web designers out there, even if it’s hiding behind the mask of a larger issue or matter. And it’s this data that will help you get a leg up on the competition since it’ll get you thinking about your business and your approach to design in different ways.

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