2020 Roundup of Web Research

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It’s December! Lots of things are published this time of year, like developer advent calendars and organizations reflecting on the past year. We have even our own end-of-year series where we asked folks what they learned in 2020. But we also see lots of research come out around this time. Some of it we’ve already linked up. But let’s round up what we’ve seen so far.

2020 MDN Web Developer Needs Assessment

What it is: An annual, global survey that researches developer needs and how to address them. It surveys 30 stakeholders representing board member organizations including browser vendors, the W3C, and industry.

What it found: Chris Mills summarized the survey’s findings. This the second edition of the annual survey, and this year’s results show that the list of top developer needs hasn’t changed much year-over-year. Things like outdated documentation, cross-browser support, and keeping current with a constantly changing landscape headline the feedback. But it’s worth looking at the raw data because they’re so much of it!

HTTP Archive’s annual state of the web report

Source: HTTP Archive

What it is: A study that looks at 7.5 million websites and analyzes how they were made, breaking things up into sections including page content, user experience, content publishing and content distribution.

What it found: Robin summarized his highlights, which include CSS gaining more page weight, and that the average site contains three <style> elements as well as six remote stylesheets. That’s just the tip of the CSS iceberg though, because there’s a whole lot more data just on that, not to mention sections on JavaScript and markup.

State of CSS 2020

What it is: An annual look at CSS, surveying developers on the features they use, as well as their understanding of and satisfaction with them. Survey co-founder Sacha Greif rounded up his own findings last year, which was the first year of results.

What it found: Tailwind CSS is getting popular! calc() is in the mainstream! position: sticky; is being used more in layouts! Grid is being used roughly 20% more than last year! It’s way too easy and fun to geek out on this stuff.

GitHub’s 2020 State of the Octoverse

What it is: This is sort of GitHub’s internal review of activity, providing status on the number of users, repos, languages, and whatnot. But those numbers sort of reveal interesting things about our work-life balance, communities, and general activity.

What it found: It’s neat to see 60+ million new repos and 1.9 billion contributions in the past year, but the insights that arise from developer activities on GitHub are the most interesting thing in this report. For example, GitHub saw a huge spike in activity in February and March as the Covid pandemic became widespread, with developers putting in more time and working longer hours — possibly a sign that more side projects were born. They also reported a decrease in work activity on weekends, while seeing a rise in open source activity — again, possibly pointing to side projects.

Google’s Year in Search

What it is: A report that the search giant releases each year highlighting top search terms, breaking them down into categories, including News, People, Actors, Definitions, Recipes, and more.

What it found: Sure, this report isn’t directly related to front-end development, but it’s sort of nice to be in touch with the zeitgeist of such an odd year. The video that accompanies the report sorta views like a Google commercial, but it’s still a good look back at what people cared about most (or most often?) in the year — sorta like a high school yearbook.

Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020

What it is: A survey of 65,000 developers that looks at the technologies they use and how they use them.

What it found: TypeScript surpassed Python as the second most beloved language after Rust. Roughly 90% of respondents say they visit Stack Overflow when they’re stuck on something (which seems right for a Stack Overflow survey). More than 15% of folks say Stack Overflow is more welcome this year compared to last year, which is an interesting metric. Lots more is in there, of course!

Angular Developer Survey 2020

What it is: A survey of 30,000 developers about they experience with the framework.

What it found: This report was interesting to me, not because I use Angular on lots of projects (I don’t), but because the folks who responded indicated better documentation as a top need, which seems to follow that HTTP Archive’s annual state of the web report.

JetBrains State of Developer Ecosystem 2020

What it is: A survey of nearly 20,000 developers by JetBrains, maker of the popular PhpStorm IDE.

What it found: They state the key findings up front. JavaScript is the most widely used programming language, Python is the most studied, and websites re the most common type of app that people are building.

The WebAIM Million 2020

What it is: An evaluation of the accessibility of the top 1 million and over 100,000 additional interior pages. What are those top million sites? The include ones from the Majestic Millions list with additional page analysis coming from the Open PageRank Initiative and Alexa Top Sites.

What it found: The report literally uses the word “dismal” to describe the results. And the report only analyzes detectable accessibility issues — there’s no qualitative assessment that would certainly reveal more insights. The study detected 60,909,278 errors, or roughly 60.9 errors per page. Yikes. Brushing up on the data and its findings is a good idea so we can all help improve that bleak picture.

CodinGame 2020 Developer Survey

What it is: A survey of 20,000 developers, covering learning, skills, languages, and demographics.

What it found: This report measures a lot of the same stuff as other surveys in this compilation, but it also has a “Work & Happiness” section that’s super interesting. For example, developers tend to be happier with their jobs if they have either a PhD or no formal education at all — all other forms of education fall flat after that. Also, developers in the U.K. (7.4), Canada (7.38), and the U.S. (7.33) report the highest levels of work satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. Developers who work in the manufacturing, aerospace, and finance sectors tends to be least happy.

LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report

What it is: A voluntary survey of 6,607 working professionals that evaluates their career priorities, challenges, and motivations.

What it found: Again, not exactly a web-focused study, but it found that folks rated “mobile coding and development,” “engineering and coding” and “cloud computing” as the lowest priority skills across all industries. The fact that LinkedIn Learning has a deep library of material and the ability to track the things people are watching and learning makes this feel pertinent. But maybe it’s nothing. Either way, those results gave me a little pause.

HackerRank Developer Skills Report

What it is: Insights on developer skills based on feedback from 116,648 developers — exactly what it says on the tin.

What it found: There’s some interesting stuff in here, like results on what coding language people first learned to write. But it’s the finding that “full-stack” developers are this year’s “most in-demand talent pool” that catches my eye. We talk a lot about what it means to be “full-stack” in this industry, and given the ongoing murkiness of the term, I’m just not sure what not means when 38% percent of hiring managers cited it as their top priority.

Microsoft IoT Signals Report

What it is: A study on the growth, evolvement and use of the Internet of Things, a term used to describe physical objects taking on Internet capabilities, say a watch, lightbulb, refrigerator, or whatever. The study polled about 3,000 people with a 20-minute online survey.

What it found: This report is kinda fun because it tracks the IoT customer lifecycle, from learning and trying to purchasing and using. This study found that 91% of companies are adopting are using and producing IoT products, compared to 85% in 2019. The report also sheds light on the emerging use of AI and Edge Computing, including some considerations and implications for using them.

Developer Economics Survey

What it is: You know, they seem to do lots of surveys — like two a year — then break those out into several individual reports. It looks like 30,000 developers participated recently and they glean insights about developer trends and tools.

What it found: To be honest, I didn’t look. You’ve gotta be a member of the community just to get in, and even then, it’s more of a push to take the survey than actually view the results. Whatever. Maybe the findings are awesome and you feel like going through the process.

UpWork’s Freelance Forward 2020

What it is: The very first survey by UpWork to check on the current state of freelancing, including the effect Covid has had on it, and what we might be able to expect in the future.

What it found: Out of 59 million freelancers (across all industries), 10% paused work as a result of the global pandemic, where 61% of those still freelancing have the amount of work they want or more. The report also concluded that freelancers are actually better equipped to weather the pandemic than non-freelancers. As a freelancer myself, this not only resonates with me personally but rings true with my own experience this year.

UXTools.co 2020 design tools survey

What it is: Taylor Palmer personally surveyed more than 4,000 designers to find out what sort of tools they’re this year to bridge the physical gaps left by the rise of working from home.

What it found: Some obvious things of course, like Zoom and Slack. But the report breaks things down into categories, showing the top tools for certain work. Like, whoa, Figma sure is a big player for everything from user flows to UI design. I knew it was big (and I use it myself) but I still figured other tools were bigger, especially for Mac. It pretty much dominated every category measured by this survey, even which tools designers are most excited to use or try.

Postman’s 2020 State of the API Report

What it is: A survey of 13,500 developers that measures who is developing with APIs, what sort of work they’re doing with them, and how APIs are evolving.

What it found: Basically, the state of API usage is super duper strong. I had a hunch that was the case without looking at the report and I’d bet my bologna sandwich that you did too. It also found that 70% of developers consider documentation to be one of the top four criteria for adopting a particular API, which goes back to MDN’s findings. Documentation is a big need!

Ionic Framework 2020 Developer Survey

What it is: Ionic polled it’s own customer base to get insights on how the developers who use the framework (1) actually use the framework, and (2) what sort of things are important to them and the way they work.

What it found: Well, it confirmed Angular’s own report that Angular grew year-over-year and is the most popular app framework — it’s interesting to see just how much it’s used compared to newer frameworks, like React and Vue, both of which saw near identical growth and usage according to this survey. It’s the newer things that get talked about most, right?

Mailchimp’s 2020 Annual Report

What it is: A look at the company’s stats for the year.

What it found: Well, this is all data related directly to Mailchimp and its customers. But still cool to see numbers like 33,635,013,935 emails sent by customers., and that $314,646,819 was generated from automated abandoned cart emails. Og, and 😍 was the most popular emoji used in email subject lines. Now you know.

Campaign Monitor’s Ultimate Email Marketing Benchmarks for 2020

Image credit: Campaign Monitor

What it is: Campaign Monitor’s updated benchmarks for email marketing, based on an analysis of 30 billion emails sent in 2019.

What it found: Tuesdays have the highest email open rates, but the highest unsubscribe rate as well. It also found that open rates declined across all industries (13.9% vs. 14.9%). In short, email benchmarks are largely the same.


Wrapping up

Phew, quite a list! But even so, there are many, many other reports out there. In fact, if you know of any not covered here, please leave a comment so we can link ’em up.

And there are more reports to come! You can actually participate in the 2020 State of JavaScript survey and the 2020 WordPress Annual Survey now, or at least at the time of this writing.


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