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: 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:
- Internet speed
- Free wifi in the city
- Places to work from
- 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: 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: 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
- 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 CancelledBusiness 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. 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: 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. 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.