What’s this about a Code of Ethics? Why do I care?
The web design + development profession has long been the home to individuals operating in isolation. With no formally regulated process to validate or confirm performance to a set of widely accepted standards, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the web pro you hire is truly ethical. Think about it: your physicians are licensed by multiple medical organizations. Your attorney must pass the bar in your state. The accountant you hire to do your taxes must also be certified. Even your hair stylist must hold a license from the state. But anyone can buy a domain, set up a website, and claim to be a professional in this space.
After 20+ years in this business, I’ve seen many examples of unethical behavior — on the part of both clients and other web pros. Those who have worked with me know that I’m honest and accountable, when it comes to what I promise, what I deliver, what I charge, what I communicate, and how I treat clients.
While this list is not exhaustive, it will give you an idea of how I operate.
My commitments to you and all potential or established clients:
I will honestly present what I’m capable of delivering, both on my websites, and in our conversations. Furthermore, I won’t promise what I know I can’t deliver.
I’ll complete my work in accordance with good website design, development, and maintenance practices. I want to deliver what you’d expect from a suitably qualified professional with relevant and equivalent experience.
If I’m unable to deliver on your request, I’ll let you know. If appropriate, I’ll refer you to partners who can fulfill that need, or help you do the recon to find the right solution.
I will offer you what I believe to be fair pricing. On a couple of occasions, projects were completed so much faster than estimated, that I offered the client a price adjustment!
I will make very possible effort to stick to what I promise in terms of budget and schedule. If I’m going to be prevented from meeting those commitments, I’ll let you know as soon as possible, and will offer possible alternatives to get us back to the original parameters.
I will fiercely protect your sensitive personal information, including credit card numbers, logins, and passwords. That means I don’t share or sell any client information. I use a trusted, well-established, and popular online payment system that has the necessary security aspects in place.
I have a finely tuned contract format that isn’t loaded with complicated legalese or long passages of unreadable text. My goal is to keep it short and sweet, and clearly spell out responsibilities of both parties, and the consequences of either side not fulfilling commitments.
I will do my best to make sure you are satisfied with the solutions I deliver. If you’re not satisfied, I’ll work with you to figure out suitable remedies, and/or will re-work the original deliverables until they meet your expectations.
If you ask me to act unethically, I’ll politely let you know why I view it as such, and will present alternatives that meet ethical expectations, as well as any education you may need as to the involved issues. If, after that conversation, you still want me to proceed with a task I consider unethical, I may be compelled to terminate our relationship (and will adjust financial commitments as necessary).
I will not use unlicensed software, “stolen” images, or plagiarized materials on my own websites. If you ask me to do take these actions on your site, I will refer you to the previous item.
I will not engage in what I consider to be “black hat” SEO methods, link farming, phishing, “web rings” or any other sketchy activities that are specifically designed with the intent of artificially improving search engine ratings.
I guarantee that the work I deliver to you will be created specifically for you, by me. Furthermore, that work won’t infringe on or violate the copyright or intellectual property ownership of others. I don’t subcontract any part of the work to other providers.
All of my work uses standard tools and approaches, ensuring that your site could be handed off to someone else for ongoing maintenance. In select cases, I may use tools where I hold (and pay for) a developer’s license. If the site is handed off, I may optionally allow you to continue to use my license, or will help you procure your own appropriate licensing.
If for any reason our relationship is terminated, I will promptly provide you with all of the administrative information I have that may be useful to you or future web pros, including account and application logins and passwords.
Of course if you have any questions about the above, feel free to contact me.