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An Overview of Ethics

Having a reputation built on integrity means being able to make hard choices and stand firm in the conviction of ethical behavior. But as participants of such a young industry comprised of such a diverse pool of talents, the biggest challenge may be in understanding what those ethical guidelines should be, and why they matter.

What Ethical Guidelines Are

Ethics are an external set of principles that aim to establish proper expectations and standards for professional behavior. Different organizations, such as AIGA publish ethical guidelines for graphic artists. These guidelines provide a really great starting point for web designers, but they neglect to get into many of the specifics that face web professionals on a regular basis.

Integrity stems from the individual, and is the reflection of their choice to adhere to ethical principles, honesty and sound moral character.

Why Ethics Matter

Ethics matter because integrity matters.

What sets you apart from your competition? Even if you’ve carved out your niche, it’s very unlikely that you were your clients’ only option. There are bound to be other people with similar skill sets, some who can do the work just as well (or better), and probably some who will do it cheaper; it’s The Law of the Jungle. If decisions were made solely on price or skill, things would be much more cut and dry. But decisions aren’t usually made quite so easily. Being the person with the most experience, or the cheapest price, does not necessarily make you the “best” choice. And isn’t that what every client wants? To choose the best partner?

Although there will always be someone bigger than you, smaller than you, faster than you and cheaper than you, the Law of the Jungle doesn’t apply in business any more.

The best choice is the company that the client can trust. It’s the agency who will adhere to timelines. It’s the designer who sets the highest standards for quality of work and the company with the most insight. In other words, it’s the ones with integrity.

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