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Master the Core: Web Design Code of Ethics

Web design, like any other profession, should always be ethical. It should always adhere to a set ­­­of norms set by the whole community. These codes guide designers to perform their tasks in the most honest and professional way possible.

But for the world of web design, being dynamic and fast-paced as it seems to be, still has not recognized a single set of ethics, the web design code of ethics.


That is why we propose these codes in this particular character:

  1. I will uphold honesty and fairness in treating my clients by giving my best effort in finishing projects within agreed time and budget.
  2. I will protect the interests of my clients and refuse to disclose confidential information.
  3. I will play with competition honestly and professionally and never resort to spreading scandalous, libelous and malicious information against others.
  4. I will scrupulously ensure that the designs I publish are not, in any way perceivable, misleading to potential customers.
  5. I will not distribute, use and collect unlicensed or pirated software in my projects.
  6. I will protect the Internet, and its users, against copyright violations, property theft and plagiarism to the best of my abilities.
  7. I will not make use of any spyware, inject codes within websites for my own interests.
  8. I will stay away from looping or using codes to disable the “Back button” and trap the visitors to view a page they don’t want to.
  9. I will not use techniques such as “Web Rings”, and “Black Hat” to optimize my search engine popularity.
  10. I will do away with pop-up windows and technologies that intrude private data for advertising.
  11. I will code in the simplest way possible.
  12. I will not participate, link to, or even provide my services to sites that promote, develop and showcase pornography, exploitation of women, children, racial and ethnic minorities, violence, hate groups and terrorist organizations.
  13. I will design while putting in mind the easiness and speed of user experience.
  14. I will not participate in website redirecting  to pages users don’t expect.
  15. I will design not, in any way, destroy a competitor website.

Honesty and Fairness in Treating Clients

Honesty to clients should be the premier concern of web designers. As a professional, you have to say the truth about what you think and feel about the client and the project. You need to be fair to them and never resort to overpricing, misleading work and all those shenanigans.

If you want your clients to be honest with you, you have to be honest with them first.

Things you should be honest:


  • Pricing

Some clients are cheated in terms of pricing. At times, in the web designers’ wanting to earn more money using the least of efforts; they resort to overpricing their clients.

As a responsible web designer, you should remember to be honest about money. You should be paid at the rate of your work. Don’t put hidden charges. Be clear about additional payments for revisions and more.

How would you price your clients? These articles provide great insights:


  • Deadlines

Deadlines are probably one of the things most designers lie about. Normally, clients have two ways in setting deadlines:

  1. They set the deadlines by themselves.
  2. They ask you how long will it take to design.

Scenario 1.The client sets the deadlines. This option can be pressuring for a web designer. Your client gives you a certain time to finish your project and you have to deliver on or before this said day ends.

That is a privilege you can’t take away from them. They, too, have their own deadlines to meet.Now, what will you do if the client gives you a deadline you’re not sure you can finish?

Most greenhorn designers will surely choose to take on the project, compress the time, cram and rush their task.

Some other experienced ones will still take the project on. But when the deadline approaches, they are unable to finish it.

So, what you supposed to do?

  • If you say yes to a deadline, be sure you can finish it.
  • Plan your time wisely.
  • Ask yourself: Is the payment for this project worth the rush?
  • If you feel you need some extra time, negotiate.
  • If you can’t finish it, don’t take it.

Scenario 2.You set your own deadline. This option gives the designers some flexibility with how will they finish the project. Most designers want this because they will be able to work at their own timeframe.

In this option, designers have choice how to juggle their own time.This gives the designer some flexibility on finishing the projects because they can work at their own timeframes. However, doing this will be prone to procrastination.

This gives the designer some flexibility with how the designer can finish the project. Most designers want this because they will be able to work at their own pace. Because of this, the designer has the ability to juggle his own time. However, being able to set your own deadline can lead to procrastination.

So, what are you supposed to do?

  • If you set it, then finish it.
  • Plan your time wisely
  • Set some extra time just in case things don’t work out.
  • Craft a productive schedule

Client Confidentiality

Privacy has been a well-discussed issue online nowadays. With risks in the divulgence of unsolicited information, confidentiality has become a pressing issue in web design.

An ethical designer will:

  • Always adhere to protect the identity of the clients
  • Not divulge information that the client has requested to remain secret


Some clients state these things in the contract, and web designers should follow it by the dot.

Following this code would mean that you will not, in any way, discuss to competing clients and other designers the specifics of your project. Doing so might jeopardize the company and you! So, better be careful with what you blurt out.

Here are some articles that you would want to read:

Honest Competition


Of course, you are not the only person who is into web design. Whether you want it or not, there will be competition. There are some designers who came before you and they could be way better.

The best you can do is to improve your skills and talents to a point where you can compete fair and square.

Ethical designers play by the rules.They don’t engage in dirty tactics like smearing on others’ reputation. They also don’t involve themselves in hacking other designer’s works to destroy them.

To be an honest competitor, you should:

  • Play by the rules
  • Continue to improve your talents
  • Build bridges not burn them

Avoiding Software Piracy and Idea-Theft

Responsible designers are not thieves. Because they know how precious ideas are, they do not support piracy and copyright infringement. To them, using someone else’s work without giving the creator enough credit is an abomination.


What is Software Piracy?

Software piracy is the unauthorized use and replication of software. It’s the act of using a for-one-computer-use-only software to other computers as well. This is illegal because it cripples the industry that develops the programs.

Imagine if you worked on a software for so long only to find out that days after you released it in the market, it had been copied by pirates. Your efforts, ideas and frustrations would be all for nothing.

Despite the efforts of the government, the stakeholders and programmers, software piracy is impossible to contain. There are existing laws that cover such act but with the great number of Internet pirates, it’s impossible to keep up.

Common types of software piracy are:

  • OEM unbinding
  • Softlifting
  • Hard disk loading
  • Corporate software policy and internet software policy


What Is Idea Theft?

Idea theft is the act of snatching ideas, using and popularizing them before the victim does first.This act may include code plagiarism, copyright infringement and patent stealing. Idea thieves cripple the industry as they destroy originality in business.

There are a lot of ways to prevent this. Let’s enumerate a few:

  • Don’t reveal too much.
  • Use Non-Disclosure Agreements.
  • Apply for patent (companies or products), register your domain (web development and design) in advance.
  • Trademark your brand.
  • Document everything!

Spyware, Unsolicited Advertising and Black Hat Techniques


Aside from stolen ideas and software, there are techniques some web designers use to harm others. As a responsible and ethical designer, you have to be knowledgeable of these practices because for all you know, you are practicing them.


According to Microsoft, Spyware is:

“A general term used to describe software that performs certain behaviors, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent first, such as: advertising, collecting personal information, changing the configuration of your computer.”

Spyware is often paired with software that uses adware or software that tracks your personal and sensitive information.

How spyware affects you:

  • Often created for different uses, spyware is very difficult to remove.
  • They commonly alter settings in your computer causing it to crash or slow down.
  • They may either change your homepage, search tool or add bookmarks and toolbars without your consent.

Black Hat

Black hat is a famous word in SEO. However, it touches web design too as it is often used in connivance with web designers. When we say Black Hat, we refer to the aggressive use of SEO techniques and schemes to fool search engines and put a certain website in the first pages.

Popular examples of this act include:

  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Invisible text
  • Doorway pages
  • Addition of unrelated keywords to page content

Protection of Women and Children


As a web designer and a responsible human being, you have to protect the causes of children and women. Designing web pages that can be debilitating for the reputation of women and children should be avoided. As much as possible, you shouldn’t agree to designing pornographic, pedophilic and violent websites.


We build websites to make the world a better place. We adhere to norms that guide us to become better web designers. For after all, we are responsible for what we build. The team here at 1stwebdesigner is one in following this code of ethics. Are you up for the challenge?

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