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By Doug Winnie | Thursday, July 05, 2012

Investigating web and mobile development job trends using the indeed.com database

One of the ways I monitor what is going on in the web and mobile development industry is to look at job listings. While there are tons of sources to scour, a site called indeed.com conveniently aggregates multiple sources into a searchable trend database that allows you to look up and monitor evolving job titles, skill requirements, and technology trends over time. I was first introduced to indeed.com from a colleague of mine at Adobe whose role required him to monitor evolving and growing job roles to help make strategy decisions on where to take software.

From just a few searches, you can start to get a general picture of some basic findings:

1. Web and mobile design roles

When you do a basic search for job titles like “web designer” and “web developer,” there is clear long term growth, but you also see an interesting recent trend.

indeed.com data chart: web designer vs. web developer.

First let me explain this graph. Out of all of the job listings that indeed.com aggregates (which go far beyond tech positions) the graph shows the overall percentage of jobs that match the search term within the available listings. This percentage is based on the total number of jobs available at the time of sampling, which can go up or down, but shows the overall growth over time of that percentage.

In this case, there has been a slow growth over time for the role of web designer, growing from just under .1% in 2005 to just over .1% today. The web developer role has gone up from .25% in 2005 to just over .4% today. What is interesting to note, however, is that the web developer role has gone down in the last 12 months. While this data doesn’t tell us why the percentage has decreased in the last twelve months, it does provide a quantitative source to start investigating further.

When you consider the growth of mobile, have you ever considered how web roles stack up against mobile roles?

Indeed.com data chart: Web development vs. Mobile development searches

This graph paints a slightly different picture. When you superimpose the mobile role titles of “mobile developer,” “user experience designer,” and “user interface designer” on top of the existing web roles (web designer and web developer), you can see the slow growth in mobile development positions over the last two years. This can form a couple of hypotheses. First, that web developer roles are moving to mobile development. Second, that user experience and user interface design roles are impeding the growth of web design.

While there isn’t enough information to prove these hypotheses, it is an interesting piece of data to monitor, and it may lead you to other sources to prove or disprove your hypotheses.

2. HTML5 v. Flash

One of the things that is difficult to determine with indeed.com is information about very specific technologies, or uses of technology. The indeed.com database is much better at representing large technology areas. One specific area of interest is the perceived growth of HTML5 and the decline of Flash.

Indeed.com data chart: HTML5 vs. Flash technologies

When you look at the data, you see there has been a long-term growth of Flash, but when HTML5 technology needs hit the job market around mid-2009, the growth of HTML5 in job postings grew at a steady pace. When you look at Flash roles, there are nearly three and a half times as many Flash jobs as HTML5 jobs—however, the decline of Flash roles in the last year is at a steeper slope than that of the growth with HTML5.

If you draw trend lines based on the rates of growth or decline in the last 12 months, jobs mentioning HTML5 will overtake Flash sometime later this year.

indeed.com data chart: Flash vs. HTML projected growth

The data that indeed.com has covers up to late 2011. If the rates change has changed since then, then the point of intersection may have already happened, or will happen sooner than this prediction. While this is not a scientific way to look at it, it does provide additional information that can help guide people in their professional development.

3. Content management systems

If you do another data slice around the three major content management systems, Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal, you can see how they are trending in the job market:

indeed.com data chart comparing Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal

WordPress is clearly taking the lead in the job market, with Drupal and Joomla following. It is interesting to see that they were all around the same in the middle of 2009, but then WordPress shot up. The division of Joomla and Drupal took place sometime in early 2010.

4. Responsive design

A relatively new trend that is also interesting to map in job listings is responsive design. Responsive design—something that we generally take for granted—is growing quickly. By doing a search on indeed.com, you can start to validate that belief with data:

indeed.com data chart showing responsive design trending

While responsive design within job postings is still a very small percentage, the growth rate has been staggering in the last year, and following this current trend it will continue to grow significantly in 2012.

Wrap up

By looking at job trend data it is interesting to see how roles, technologies, and required skills are changing over time. This information can help inform your professional development, and help you to understand how shifts take place in the job market.

While research like this isn’t scientifically rock-solid, it does start to form hypothesis that you can use to validate against other sources, or take to the community to ask more questions and get additional guidance.

Interested in learning more about web or mobile development? • Titanium Mobile App Development Essential Training• Mobile Web Design & Development Fundamentals • HTML5 for Flash Developers • Create an iPad Web App

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