Researching our communities, part 2: Overall community profile

This is the second in a series of posts analyzing event attendance in the Austin design community. You can jump to any post using the links below.

Also, be sure to read the caveats for this analysis.

Yesterday we introduced a project based on a survey conducted by Vitorio Miliano examining the Austin design community. Today we explore the overall make-up of survey respondents.

Overall Profile

designer founder experience designer/consultant/lead user proprietor sole

Most common words in job titles of respondents

Although we are focusing on the differences across event-going subgroups, in most respects they are similar.  They possess certain distinct skill sets, with strong representation of layout/UI and markup skills, closely followed by CSS and information architecture, wireframing, and site mapping.  Less than 30% of respondents are skilled in backend development or SEO.

They also show distinct trends in how they study their craft.  Most do so online or via books, more so than any other format.  Trial and error and conferences follow in popularity, but represent less than half of the total number of respondents.  There’s very little utilization of in-house training or online forums for learning.  In their free time, more of them pursue design as a hobby than as a side business or pro bono.

They also possess clear professional desires.  Learning the fundamentals is extremely popular across the board, significantly higher than every other topic except concepting and user research (which makes fundamentals, concepting, and research the best “general-draw” topics for events).  On the other hand, game mechanics are extremely unpopular with this community, scoring significantly lower in popularity than most other areas.

They want certain things from their workplaces, which they’re not getting.  Mentoring, contact with end-users, proper critiques, customer/market research, documented processes/best practices, and early criticism (in that order) were considered as missing from a third or more of respondents’ workplaces.  However, most respondents’ workplaces do appear to be adequately meeting their need for public and private recognition (slightly less than a fifth of respondent felt they were missing out on these).

And how do they feel about professional events overall?  The group is generally comfortable at any venue.  When they fail to attend events, generally it is due to a lack of time or because they don’t keep track of what’s going on.  But the type of event matters.  Presentations by peers are extremely popular, followed by peer panels and workshops.  The least popular events are lunches and company panels (tied), then happy hours and field trips.  At the same time, you shouldn’t automatically conclude that happy hours are a bad idea, as even the least popular events were endorsed by 41% of respondents.

This summary represents the general makeup of the Austin design community (or at least those who responded to the survey).  Over the next three days, we will be breaking down these results by subgroups in an effort to determine what kind of people are drawn to each type of event.

Continue to Part 3: Lunches, happy hours, & workshops

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