Latest Research for Web Designers April 2020

Latest Research for Web Designers April 2020

Although life hasn’t returned to normal yet, the web design and marketing space doesn’t seem to have been too badly disrupted — at least not with all the new research and surveys floating around. And thank goodness for that. If we can maintain some semblance of normalcy, I think we’ll all get through this crisis in good shape.

In today’s roundup of the latest research for web designers, we’re going to look at a variety of topics, from 2020 holiday shopping predictions to missed opportunities in SEO.


Retail Experts Predict Huge Uptick in E-commerce Holiday Sales

Shelley E. Kohan wrote a piece for Forbes entitled, “Coronavirus Fears May Drive U.S. E-Commerce Sales Beyond 2020 Projections—And Change How People Shop In The Future”.

While all we have at this point are guesses about when the coronavirus crisis will end and what will happen to the global economy as a result, Kohan has a really interesting data-backed theory. It goes like this:

During the holiday season, there’s a noticeable increase in e-commerce sales. Because of the concentration of buying activity throughout the season, consumers become accustomed to this way of shopping, which is why e-commerce sales activity often remains high even as we move into non-holiday months.

Principal analyst of eMarketer Andrew Lipsman explains:

During the holiday, a time with more concentrated buying activity, consumers spend more online creating a step-change, meaning the consumer may not return to past behavior.

Because of the quarantine and self-isolation orders around the globe right now, consumers are buying far more online than they have before. And the longer they have to rely on this means of shopping, the more comfortable they’re going to become with it.

So, while predictions of holiday e-commerce sales might have been modest for 2020 prior to the coronavirus, that could easily change.

What Can Web Designers Do About This?

If Kohan’s and Lipsman’s theories are correct, e-commerce shopping is going to soar this fall/winter. So, it would be a good idea to start working with your clients now who plan on capitalizing on the holiday shopping season.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea either to start helping clients prepare for the end of the crisis. For businesses that have slowed down or stopped altogether, they might be becoming complacent, just waiting for demand to return. Instead, they should be working on a plan to hit the ground running the second things start to pick up — and you should be right there with them to ensure their site is ready for it. That could mean preparing their web hosting for a surge in traffic, redesigning the homepage for summer sales, or helping them digitize more of their business now that consumers have become accustomed to doing stuff online.


Experian Survey Reveals Data Breach Fears

A recent Experian survey shed some light on the state of cybersecurity, why businesses fear data breaches, and what they’re doing about it.

In 2019, data breaches were on the rise with 63% of organizations reporting the loss or theft of a thousand records or more.

And as security breaches become more prevalent, companies are losing faith in their ability to fight off an attack. Of those surveyed, only 23% believe their business is protected from email phishing attacks and 20% believe they’re protected from ransomware.

As for what they’re doing to protect their organizations, a lot of the focus is on securing their physical infrastructure:

  • 73% audit their physical security measures
  • 69% do background checks on employees and vendors
  • 57% do third-party cybersecurity assessments
  • 49% have cybersecurity insurance

What’s surprising is a lack of concern or attention paid to their websites and data captured there (at least in terms of this survey).

What Can Web Designers Do About This?

If you know that security is a primary concern for business clients, make it part of the early conversations you have with prospects. Lay out the facts about digital security. Then, make sure your proposal includes a plan for fortifying their website from security breaches.

Even if their focus is on the physical protection of company data, they’ll appreciate you bringing the risks of a digital breach to their attention. And if you’re looking for ways to stabilize your income, this would nicely open the doors to a new opportunity selling website support and maintenance.


HubSpot Research Reveals a Gap in Technical SEO

A recent survey from HubSpot research reveals how many companies are using SEO and what kinds of technical SEO, specifically, they’re using.

According to the report, 63.57% of organizations actively invest time in optimizing their web presences for search.

While it’s good to know that many businesses are taking SEO seriously, it’s unnerving to see how few of them have made technical SEO a priority.

According to the survey, companies employ the following technical SEO tactics:

  • 24% optimize for speed
  • 23.5% optimize for mobile
  • 23% localize their websites
  • 14% do keyword strategy
  • 11% create content clusters
  • 2% have a backlinking strategy

If search rankings are so important to companies, why aren’t they investing more time in these necessary optimization tactics? Is it a lack of education on the benefits of technical SEO or is it that their dedicated SEO doesn’t know how to implement them?

What Can Web Designers Do About This?

The first thing web designers need to focus on is the fact that less than two-thirds of companies are spending time on SEO. That alone poses an opportunity for designers to get in there and start educating prospects and clients on the benefits of SEO.

This will then enable you to introduce yourself as part of the solution. You might not be an SEO expert in terms of content, but you’re certainly an expert in terms of mobile responsiveness, performance, accessibility, and tagging.

If technical search optimization isn’t currently part of your web design checklist, it should be (at least for clients who understand and appreciate the value of technical SEO).



What’s so great about this research is that all of it points to greater opportunities for web designers. While the world might be feeling scared, isolated, and hopeless right now, there’s still work that needs to be done. And there’s a lot you as web designers can do to keep businesses afloat amidst all this uncertainty and ready to hit the ground running once we return to a normal pace of life again.


Featured image via Unsplash.

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The Latest Research for Web Designers, March 2020

The Latest Research for Web Designers, March 2020

While it’s important to know about the latest research and surveys impacting web design, I think it’s just as important to stay informed about news that may affect your work as a designer.

As such, this roundup of the latest research for web designers includes a mix of reports along with some news and facts about something that people are talking about all around the world: the coronavirus.


A Better Lemonade Stand Analyzes the Best Remote Working Locations

With the help of Nomad List, A Better Lemonade Stand has aggregated a list of the 20 best places to work remotely.

While finding a place to live can be a very subjective matter (for instance, some people prefer colder locales or warm ones), this list takes into account factors that can have a serious impact on the work of a freelancer. For example, this is why Auckland, New Zealand ended up taking the #1 spot for remote work:

Latest Research for Web Designers - Nomad List ranking for Auckland New Zealand

The other cities to round out the top 10 are:

  • Bengaluru, India
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Lisbon, Portugal

I’d argue that it’s high scores on factors like the following that make them the best spots to work remotely from:

  • Cost
  • Internet speed
  • Free wifi in the city
  • Places to work from
  • Walkability
  • Happiness score
  • Quality of life

If you’ve been considering a move and you want it to not only be a place you love but that’s good for your business, one of these nomad-friendly spots might fit the bill.


Hubspot Gives Us a Comprehensive Look at the State of Marketing

As always, there’s almost too much information to digest in Hubspot’s annual State of Marketing report. But that’s not going to stop me from highlighting the points you can use to bring more money into your business:

Website Upgrades Needed

According to the survey, 63% of respondents are looking to upgrade their websites in 2020. If you have experience in and enjoy doing website redesigns, hop on this opportunity as soon as you can.

Maintenance Pros Wanted

Sometimes it’s not the design that needs to be tweaked. Rather your clients would benefit from a technical tune-up along with ongoing maintenance.

When asked which tactics have been the most beneficial for improving a website’s performance and search ranking, here’s what respondents had to say:

Hubspot State of Marketing - Website Fixes

You could easily create a recurring revenue stream around these maintenance tasks.

Visual-Heavy Content Marketing is a Must

Marketers use a wide variety of content in their marketing strategies:

Hubspot State of Marketing - Content Types

If you’re in the business of building websites, you should also be helping your clients create graphics for the media above. For instance, you could provide ongoing design services for:

  • Blog (and promotional social media) graphics
  • Videos or just video cover images
  • Infographics
  • Templates for case studies, ebooks, and white papers

Just because your job is primarily to build high-converting websites for clients doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for other ways to serve them.


The Coronavirus’s Impact on Freelancers

With so much news about the coronavirus out there, it’s hard to know what to focus your attention. If you’re a freelancer, then these are the statistics and research you should focus on:

Conferences Around the World Are Being Cancelled

Business Insider and the LA Times rounded up lists of conferences that have been cancelled, rescheduled, or restructured because of the coronavirus:

  • Adobe Summit (it’ll be online instead)
  • Facebook’s F8
  • Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit
  • EmTech Asia
  • Shopify Developer Conference
  • Google I/O
  • Google Cloud Next ‘20 (rescheduled as an online event)

And for those of you who work with WordPress, WordCamp Asia was cancelled.

WordCamp Asia Cancelled - Coronavirus

Considering how expensive and time-consuming professional design conferences can be to attend, these cancellations might not be as big of a disappointment to the freelance community. In fact, it might bring a change to the professional conference landscape, with more of them hosted virtually so that it becomes cheaper, more practical, and now safer to attend.

Some Freelance Gigs Are Drying Up

In particular, it’s Singapore’s population of freelancers that are feeling the effects of the coronavirus, according to a report from Vice.

It makes sense. As businesses close down their offices or their operations altogether, the contract workforce who works behind the scenes for them is going to be impacted as well. This is especially problematic for those who build ecommerce and retail websites. With many products manufactured in China (31.3% of all apparel and 37.6% of textiles are manufactured there, for instance), inventories are waning and many retailers are having to wait out the virus to resume operations. 

The Singapore government recently announced plans for its 2020 budget, which included contributing SG$800 million towards curbing the effects of the virus on the country. Additional support is to be given to industries the most severely affected by it as well.

While the country’s budget doesn’t account for freelancers (as I’m sure will be the case in other countries), the freelance community itself is stepping up.

Nicholas Chee, who runs a video production company in Singapore, started a Facebook group for freelancers who’ve been dealing with lost gigs as a result of the coronavirus. It’s called SG COVID-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group and is giving the freelance community a way to support each other through this crisis.

Web Designers May Be Able To Help Stop The Spread of Coronavirus

It’s not just Facebook groups that are going to help freelancers get through the coronavirus crisis in one piece. According to Dr. Stephanie Evergreen, web designers might actually be able to help slow down or stop the spread of the virus itself.

In an article she wrote for Fast Company, Dr. Evergreen, a data visualization specialist, demonstrates how more eye-catching graphics can better educate the public on what’s going on and what they can do.

For instance, she shares this graphic from the World Health Organization:

World Health Organization - MERS Cases Charts

While it more effectively lays out this data than a wall of text would, it’s not going to do much to capture anyone’s attention.

It’s more important than ever for public health agencies to use data visualization to communicate with the masses, as the public is bombarded with more information each day and in need of a way for the most pressing issues to cut through the noise.

Quantifiable data, instead, should be presented like this graphic from the Florida Department of Health

Florida Department of Health - Influenza Activity map and data

It does both a good job of capturing attention and informing the public of what’s going on.

Bottom line: if your website is tasked with communicating critical data to the public, see if there’s a way you can lend your design skills to it. While a writer can clearly communicate what’s going on, graphics are more likely to grab and hold their attention.



While annual “State of” reports always tend to wind down around February/March, we still have a wealth of data coming in that not only affects your design strategy but your business strategy too.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition of the latest research for web designers as we’re sure to see the first quarterly reports come out for design, marketing, SEO, and more.

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