A few weeks ago, during the course of my daily browsings, I came across the Academy of Design Professionals’ Code of Professional Conduct. This intriguing and much-needed document (presented on a beautifully simple web page, BTW) calls to designers of all walks to hold themselves and their profession up to higher standards. It deals with the professional obligations designers have to themselves, their peers, their profession, the public, etc., and lays out a great set of ground rules designed (ha!) to promote the design profession as necessary and good.Signing and adhering to this code is voluntary and important. This post serves as my signature.
Why is having a professional code of standards so important? What does it mean to me to adhere to this code? Read on!
The Architects of Every Day
When I stumbled across Andy Rutledge’s recent article on Smashing Magazine and subsequently found his e-book, I immediately thought of a life-changing sentence casually tossed out in my Design Concepts class back in school by my professor, Gail Bayeta:
“[Designers are] the invisible guidance for anything people do.”
This is a fantastic notion, one that should be thought about with a great sense of responsibility. Almost every object, device, or process you deal with on any given day is the product of designers. Each angle and color, each functionality (or lack thereof), placement, sound, texture, all of it… somebody made a decision to include or omit it in the hopes of bettering our world and your interaction with it. To pull a concept from one of my favorite Futurama episodes, if designers (in most cases) do their job right, people won’t be sure they’ve done anything at all.
Without getting TOO self important, it’s not a stretch to see that if designers are entrusted with the task of planning the population’s interaction with the world, especially when those interactions involve things like safety or access to information, then a code of professional conduct becomes an essential thing to have, not only for designers to work by, but for the public and their peers to hold them up to.
What the Code Means to Me
As a web designer, I help build the Internet every day.
It may seem like a small task but as more and more transactions and interactions take place online, a strong sense of ethics and a moral code become the most essential tools a designer has. When you take into account the shift toward mobile browsing, the designer directly affects the user’s bank account by way of the amount of data transferred by a page.
I currently design for a big university. My decisions not only impact the effectiveness of my employers to connect with the students and recruit new ones, but also the students’ ability to enroll, learn about helpful programs, and get where they need to go. Online presence is an increasingly important part of education. Without holding myself to high standards, it would be easy for students, faculty, and staff to get lost in the thousands of pages that make a university website tick.
When dealing with individual clients, there is a concern to accurately portray the company and make sure their online presence matches their physical one. When a designer is responsible for a client’s entire presence and ability to generate income, a strict code of ethics is key.
Even though I’m relatively new to the field of web design, I earnestly want to embrace the principles of design professionalism. I feel that design is an important, essential part of life and I pledge to do my part to promote it as such, as well as to use my better judgement throughout my professional life and uphold the standards put forth by the Code.
Thanks for reading!