Web Design in the Philippines – Its History, Current State and Future Direction
Anywhere in the web, it is very difficult to find information regarding web design Philippines as an industry including its current size and the people involved. Here is an attempt to consolidate information and shed light to frequently asked questions how it all started.
Tracing the roots of web design in the Philippines
It was in early 2000s when the Philippines emerged as the key venue for offshore developments in Asia, with India at the 2nd position. Back then, the Philippines is already considered as a strong contender in providing back office services aside from the core technology.
The development of the web design Philippines has its roots on the 1991 volcanic disaster, leaving the military troops with no choice but to go back to the US in 1992. They leave behind a somewhat reliable technology and communications infrastructure with which the national government capitalized on.
Just when India focused its workforce in developing software services, Philippines concentrated on developing trade around information, technology and communication-enabled services.
In 2000, the software exports were at $200 million although the coverage of the estimate is not established. Nonetheless, the IT industry was already strong at 30,000 experts working in mostly foreign-owned, locally-headquartered firms.
In 2006, offshore outsourcing industry including business processes and IT services was estimated at $3.3 billion. It grew by more than 30% by 2009 (est. $9 billion) and is continually growing.
The telecommunication services include both voice (call centers) and non-voice (data processing, animation, app development and of course, web design Philippines).
A 2000 survey conducted by META ranked the Philippines as the number provider of ‘knowledge jobs,’ besting 47 countries around the world. During this time, software clusters are set up in different locations such as Clark Special Economic Zone.
Philippines has many strengths including a good IT infrastructure in Manila and IT parks in other parts of the country like Pampanga, Cebu and Davao despite the difficulty in establishing fixed telecommunication lines due to its geographical spread.
The Philippines also has a strong industry association among IT councils worldwide. This helps presenting a positive picture of the whole industry.
Other reasons why the Philippines was a suitable IT hub during those times include:
- Low labor costs (30 to 40% less than the US)
- High literacy rate (94%)
- High level of English proficiency
- High awareness of the Western culture
Where it is now
Today, the Philippines is known as the ‘outsourcing veteran’ despite a seemingly fragmented web design industry, among others. In fact, there are only a few Filipino web designers who stood out like Cheryl Fuerte, the designer behind the multi-awarded DonnaCruz.com.
Fuerte co-founded PhilWeavers along with Drew Europeo and other locally renowned artists. PhilWeavers is the oldest web designers association in the country although it only existed until 2006. Some said that it was no longer operating by 2003.
Another organization of Filipino web designers is the Philippine Web Designers Organization (PWDO). PWDO was established in September 2008 when the local web designers came together to held the first conference that devotes to web design Philippines.
PWDO offers conference-format workshops targeting young and budding web designers. Its first major conference held in 2009 was attended by more than 200 web designers.
Recently, it launched ‘hackaton’ which aims to design websites for charities and other non-profit organizations.
Nowadays, it is hard to come up with the total number of legitimate web designers in the Philippines although a conservative estimate is at 20,000 to 50,000 designers. This is particularly true because there is currently no way with which the government certifies web designers.
Even so, these designers learn web designing either informally or formally.
1) Freelancers and training providers
Some web designers learn through googling the topics since there are many tutorials online. Some learn from their friends or acquaintances. There are dedicated online forums and communities of web designers where a newbie can ask a question and experts can answer.
There are thousands of web designers online who offer design and development training. Mostly, they offer a 1 to 3 days one-on-one training for ₱5,000 or less, depending on the contents of the training and the trainer. There are also free web design courses. Majority of the courses are done online.
Some training providers prefer organizing a workshop so many newbies may come. The costs of the workshops also differ although it is usually inclusive of training materials and meals. Some training providers also offer short courses that last 6 months.
Some web design Philippines schools and training institutions choose to offer web design courses beyond 6 months. Filipinos who want to learn how to develop a website properly will not run out of choices of schools. Some of these are:
- Meralco Foundation Institute (MFI)
- Philippine Center for Creative Imaging (PCCI)
- University of the Philippines Information Technology Training Center (UP ITTC)
- First Academy of Computer Arts
- DLSU College of Computer Studies
- International Electronics and Technical Institute Inc. (Cainta, Biñan, Calamba and Imus)
- Metro Dumaguete College
- Philippine Best Training System Colleges
- University of Baguio
- De La Salle College of Saint Benilde
- AMA Computer University
Further, the costs of web design Philippines courses vary. It can go anywhere from ₱7,000 to ₱29,000 for a bachelor’s degree and from ₱11,000 to ₱16,000 for a master’s degree.
While the costs of studying web design Philippines are relatively high, the locals are not hindered by such. In fact, the enrollment rate of these schools is consistently high, highlighting the current demand for web designers locally and abroad.
Did you know that the Philippines is the 6th country where Silicon Valley gets its talented pool of workforce from? Asians, especially the Filipinos, are increasingly becoming an important driving force in the global digital development. See below.
Figure 1 A Detailed Map of Silicon Valley’s Imported Talent
Unfortunately, the local web design Philippines industry is not as friendly to web designers compared to other countries. Here are some of the average salaries of the Filipino workers:
Graphic designers – $5,657.71 (₱226,308.40 or ₱18,859.03/mo)
Web developer – $6,873.83 (₱274,953.20 or ₱22,912.76/mo)
Sr. web developer – $9,054.33 (₱362,173.20 or ₱30,181.10/mo)
Software developer – $7,521.81 (₱300,872.40 or ₱25,072.70/mo)
Web designer – $4,244.28 (₱169,771.20 or ₱14,147.60/mo)
Sr. web designer – $7,190.59 (₱287,623.36 or ₱23,968.63/mo)
Where it is headed
The Philippines is strategically positioned to provide the best web design and development services – location, people and technology.
Evidently, the challenge lies in formalizing web design Philippines as a separate industry. The approach must be multi-fold, considering the role of the web designers themselves (students included), web design organizations, web design service providers and the local government.
Ambitious as it may seem, at least for now, the government may help the local web designers if there will be more associations and governing bodies as well as laws and regulations that can protect the interest of the Filipino web designers. This is particularly true because the local designers are dealing with both domestic and international clients.
Seeing the imminent growth of the number of individuals who want to venture into web designing, the country will not witness a shortage of highly capable talent. Not anytime soon, even with the escalating demand at the international level.
Founded in 2002, Optimind Technology Solutions has witnessed the growth of the industry from being a minute component of non-voice, IT-enabled services and blossoming into a reputable industry of its own.
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