Actinic Survey Finds Web Designers in 2007 Are Running Faster to Stand Still

Ecommerce software supplier, Actinic revealed the results of its annual survey of web designers. It found them building significantly more sites than in previous years, but a decrease in the revenue per site all but cancelled out any potential increase in earnings. This suggests a more competitive market, more efficiency on the part of web designers, or a combination of the two.

Web designers reportedly built an average of thirty sites each in 2007, compared with averages in the low twenties for the previous 3-4 years.

The proportion of sites enabled for ecommerce remained at 27%, similar to previous years. But the average revenue per site fell from £4,600 to £3,300. Overall, the average total value of all ecommerce sites built remained the same, at around £26,000 per design company for the year.

The survey gave no indication that clients’ requirements are falling – suggesting that web designers are having to work harder for the same level of reward. But commercial ecommerce packages – which should enable web designers to develop ecommerce sites more quickly and efficiently – are only used for about a third of builds.

This, according to Actinic’s Chris Barling, means that web designers are potentially missing out on efficiency savings just when they need them most: “Today’s packages are easier, more powerful and more flexible than ever before,” he says. “In many cases they can deliver just what the web designer needs in this ever more competitive market.”

The reasons for the slow adoption of packaged design solutions remain unclear. “It may be,” says Barling, “that web designers’ perceptions of ecommerce packages are still based on experiences of first-generation products, or that we still haven’t reached the point where packages are truly mature. Or web designers may just feel they are too busy to learn a new application.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

· Greater use of web designers by small and medium businesses: 90% of clients are now companies with fewer than 50 employees, compared with 80% in 2006, and 75% in 2003

· A continuing decline in Dreamweaver’s market dominance: Only 50% of designers name it as a favourite tool

· PHP winning out over Microsoft ASP/.Net: PHP users rose to 63% while ASP/.Net usage declined to 25%

· A growing preference for Linux and UNIX servers over Windows: Almost two-thirds said they preferred these platforms for building online stores.