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What Stack Overflow's 2016 Dev Survey Predicts About the Future of Web Design

Whether you're new to website development or you've been in the field since it's inception, you've probably heard of Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow began as a massive database of web development questions and answers, and quickly gained enough critical mass to grow into a suite of development documentation-based websites with deep, detailed information and troubleshooting on everything from 3D printing and amateur radio to smartphone OS development and dozens of development languages.

Stack Overflow has billed itself as a no-fluff, answers-oriented community, and has for years polled its growing communities for crowdsourced information on the state of the industry, commonly-used and newly-adapted technologies, work quality, and even the developing community at large. Recently, they released the result of their 2016 Development Survey.

Stack Overflow

According to the source, over 50,000 web devs responded to the 45-question survey. They were sourced from roughly 173 nations, and Stack Overflow was transparent about potential sources of bias: most notably, that the survey (being in English) was biased for English-speaking developers.

A Developer's Work in 2016

The vast majority of responders (almost 30%) to Stack Overflow's survey were full-stack web developers. Back-end developers and, interestingly enough, students made the next highest designations, both at roughly 12%. If you're not familiar with the term 'full-stack', this basically means that the respondent is comfortable in 5 or more development languages or frameworks, compared to the 1-4 for most other developers.

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This is a pretty interesting metric, which has grown from previous years, and likely indicates that it's increasingly important to have a variable skillset when working in tech. But the fact that many respondents were students is definitely a good sign for the future of the field, which has been experiencing a prolonged labor shortage for years. Students of web development could fill occupations anywhere from a company that provides web design services to providing big data analysis for marketing firms.

Most Popular Languages & Technologies

According to the survey's results, Java and JavaScript are popular technologies no matter one's self-assigned job description. From full-stack developers to front-end to mobile, JavaScript continued to reign king. The market share of PHP is being edged out by other languages (though only marginally for this year), and there seems to be a growing interest in Python.

Students in particular seem to be gravitating towards Java, JavaScript, C++, and Python, a good indication that many current students are looking to head into math and data fields rather than more traditional front or back end development. To a certain degree, this isn't terribly surprising! With website builders like Wix and Squarespace taking an ever-larger market share from traditional website developers, and frameworks like Wordpress making it easier for non-developer novices to make websites, website development jobs in the future are likely going to represent a smaller potential pool of employment.

Swift, Rust, and even Go made up some of the top 5 'loved' languages by responding developers: the second year in the row they achieved this laudable position. Wordpress and VB were among the most loathed. Python, Android, AngularJS and Node.js made up the top languages developers wanted to learn. Work Statistics and Pay for Developers According to respondents in the US, cloud-based languages are where the big money is for developers! Spark, Scala, Cassandra, cloud languages like AWS and Azure, Perl, Clojure, and Go all paid 6 figure incomes on the average, with the top-performers getting as much as $125,000. Outside of the US, F# and Dart topped the best-paying list. This languages don't represent any significant change from last year, however! And especially as more businesses transition to cloud-based operations, one can hazard a guess that they'll remain popular into the future.

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In the US, almost 70% of developers were employed full-time, but many billed themselves as freelancers, and only roughly 2% noted themselves as unemployed. And this is despite the fact that many were self-taught, with no degree in their field. With the national average for unemployment more than double that figure, it's a heartening sign for the future of the industry.

The Biggest Takeaways

The survey went on to measure everything from job satisfaction to pet preferences, and found another few interesting details. Usually, higher-paid workers reported higher job satisfaction, and that metrics like company size and industry can also have a lot of impact on job satisfaction. The number of female developers seems to be growing, and while male developers who are 30+ usually make $20,000 more, younger web developers have an almost negligible pay difference.

But, most importantly, more students are entering the field, and are demonstrating interest in learning high-value languages which have less to do with website design and more to do with data sciences. More and more people are learning multiple languages and identifying as full-stack developers, with a decreasing percentage in front-end design. From this vantage, it looks as though talented website designers and students are looking to the future and opting to shoot for better-paying skillsets more likely to provide broader job opportunities.

What do you think this might mean for the future of website design? Give us your thoughts!

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