• ChallengeHow can WeTransfer leverage their 80million-strong user base to measure the pulse of the creative industries?
  • Solution: A typeform survey of thoughtful multiple choice questions, sent out to users via email.
  • Result A snapshot of the creative industries' mood around the world in 2021.

Imagine if there was data about what it looked and felt like to be creative throughout the years. Perhaps it would help us figure out the conditions for brilliant ideas. Maybe we could finally learn what was in the water in the Modernist period, or the Renaissance.

That's one of the dreamy aspirations behind WeTransfer's Ideas Report. Every year since 2018, they've run a worldwide survey of the creative industries.

WeTransfer has an 80 million-strong user base, who use it for sharing any file too big and juicy for an email—designs, movies, audio files, photographs. It's in the daily toolkit of creators all over the world. Their Ideas Report synthesizes the opinions of this huge audience to understand how they're feeling about work and play.

“It’s a report about the creative industries at large, what trends we’re seeing, and even a creative forecast.”

Annie Laurie Malarkey, Brand and Product Comms Lead, WeTransfer

Aside from being interesting, this data puts WeTransfer in the headlines. This information just isn't available anywhere else. Giving it away for free is a gift back to the creative industries. Many agencies find their data points useful for understanding the current landscape, and planning the year ahead.

“It’s nice to have something big every year that cements us in the creative industry. It lets our users know that we care deeply about them, their work and their lives.”

Annie Laurie Malarkey, Brand and Product Comms Lead, WeTransfer

The 4th edition of the Ideas Report went live November 3, 2021. It was compiled with participants from over 135 countries, representing every continent, including one lonely soul in Antarctica. This year as every year, WeTransfer collected the data with Typeform. 

A survey with design cred     

When deciding which tool to use for the Ideas Report, WeTransfer chose Typeform.  If you're making a survey for a group which includes a lot of designers, then aesthetics count for a lot.  Maedhbh Greene, User Experience Researcher at WeTransfer, was sure Typeform was the right fit for this.

“Typeform is the prettiest — it matches our brand so well. WeTransfer and Typeform have a similar energy.”

Maedhbh Greene, User Experience Researcher, WeTransfer

This year's Ideas Report asked over fifty questions — as optional surveys go, it's long. However, Maedhbh Greene, the UX Researcher on the project, said the dropout rate was surprisingly low. Even though this typeform is huge, it's easy to flick through. That's partly because almost every question was multiple choice, so respondents don't have to think too hard about coming up with their answer.

Asking interesting questions to get interesting answers  

The questions on 2021's Ideas Report survey mostly pivoted on the axis of the pandemic. It also asked creatives to consider their role in society and the future.

To give a flavor of what was asked, here are a few choice questions: 

  • Thinking specifically of the lockdowns and quarantines, what impact did Covid-19 have on your creativity? 

  • Since the pandemic, do you feel more in control or less in control of your own destiny as a professional? 

  • How important do you think your creative relationships are to the final creative ideas? 

WeTransfer used logic jumps to cut out irrelevant questions. For instance, if you're not from an advertising agency, then you won't be asked your thoughts on the advertising agency model.

They also asked one or two short answer questions, to give their creatives a small opportunity to express themselves. This one in particular seems designed to create a groovy word cloud: 

WeTransfer sent their typeform out to their subscribers via their background images and email, and received over 10,000 responses. 

Today's a little dry, but tomorrow may bring flowers

We'll refrain from giving spoilers, but 2021's Ideas Report had several surprising and curious results. Overall, however, the creative temperature seems cooler than last year. 

“We saw very different results from last year. 2020 was a shock to the system. I think there was more optimism, because the pandemic was so new — we were all baking bread, enjoying parts of it! We actually saw a lot of people feeling more creative.”

Annie Laurie Malarkey, Brand and Product Comms Lead, WeTransfer

Covid-19 restrictions persist, but most of us are leveling out from the initial impact. For now, large-scale quarantines seem to be over in the global north. But so is the lockdown feeling of rainy day play.

This is a transitional year, and the industry is in flux. Some creatives are doing great, and some are not. However, Annie sees reason to be optimistic.

“If last year was a shock to the system, and this year is a transition year, then I hope next year is going to be like the Renaissance Ideas Report.”

Annie Laurie Malarkey, Brand and Product Comms Lead, WeTransfer

In the age of digital collaboration, WeTransfer is one of the rare threads that connects many creatives all over the world. However, it's easy to take free tools for granted. The Ideas Report highlights the scale and diversity of WeTransfer's reach, and reminds its users, "we're important to you—and you're important to us."

“As WeTransfer, we’re used by 80 million people all over the world. We’re pretty much the only ones that can do a survey of this global magnitude every year.”

Annie Laurie Malarkey, Brand and Product Communications Lead, WeTransfer
 

Why go to the trouble? 

The WeTransfer team also hopes that The Ideas Report data will be genuinely helpful to the people they serve. It'll help them spot trends, and tweak their work practices accordingly.

“Hopefully, our data can inform people who lead agencies, give them information on what their creatives need, and what works for them. That might change how they do things next year.”

Tessa Pauw, Project Manager Marketing, WeTransfer

The Ideas Report could give you an idea, whatever your industry

As in the years before, the findings of WeTransfer's Ideas Report are splashed across headlines and social media. If you're not a creative type but have an audience, it's worth asking: would a survey like this be an effective PR exercise for your industry niche too? Surveying your user base can generate insightful data about your industry. This will be useful for your own content planning. What's more, sharing the data for free will highlight your status as a business in-the-know. Your users will find it helpful, or at least, worth talking about.

If you're feeling inspired, check out our collection of survey templates.

How you ask is everything.

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