From the very beginning the web has been emboldened by the grandiose idea that it could be for everyone, everywhere. What we face today is the challenge of making that idea become a reality.
As the traditional Western markets have started to reach saturation, the next wave of users will be coming from countries with an entirely different set of constraints around using the web. One of the biggest challenges we — the designers and developers building the sites and applications on the web — face is broadening our perspective.
Not everyone has access to high-speed networks or high-end mobile devices. Not everyone lives in a country where the government views internet access as a right that should be available to everyone. Not everyone can afford to purchase large or unlimited data plans.
Every assumption we make, every constraint we overlook, introduces another way our sites and applications can fail for someone out there in a less ideal scenario than our own.
We need to take steps to expand our perspective and avoid having a myopic view of what it means to access today’s web. There are plenty of interesting articles and data points that can help us become better informed, but they’re scattered throughout numerous reports, databases and articles. I wanted to start collecting them in one central location, so I built The Web, Worldwide.
Each country has its own profile page which pulls in data from a variety of sources. At the moment, here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:
- Affordability data from the ITU, showing how much data costs
- Data from Akamai about global connection speed and access to high-speed broadband
- Demographic information from World DataBank including information about literacy, access to electricity, poverty, secure internet servers and more
- Data from Chrome about HTTPS usage
- Minimum wage data from ODEC
Not every country has every data point. Some of the data cannot be reliably obtained for some countries, and some data sources don’t report for every country. Chrome’s HTTPS data, for example, is limited to the 10 countries in their transparency report.
Consider this a starting point. I have more information I’d like to add for each country, as well as a few features planned that will help to make it easier to see how one country stacks up against another.
If you have suggestions for data to add or other improvements to be made, please let me know.
There’s much more work to be done, but my hope is that The Web, Worldwide will be useful as a small step towards broadening our perspective and helping us to understand just how very different the web is experienced in different parts of the world.
Tim is head of developer relations at Snyk—a company focused on making open source code more secure. He is the author of Implementing Responsive Design: Building sites for an anywhere, everywhere web, and was a contributing author for Smashing Book #4: New Perspectives on Web Design, and the Web Performance Daybook Volume 2. Along with Katie Kovalcin, he also co-hosts The Path to Performance Podcast.