Your Website’s Checklist: Ethics

Being ethical is a full-time job better than any other. If many are being unethical, the rest start doing the same. In turn, society puts itself in a situation where it becomes an acceptable norm to be unethical. That’s why when there’s a lack of trust between individuals and ethical behavior, people become creative in coming up with different ways to go around what’s expected of them.

Dealing with ethics is not easy. Making bad decisions, however, is a lot easier. Many will want the easy way out, a shortcut to the top or the fastest way through. Surrender to none of those. You are a professional, act like it, and tell others to do the same too. Communication matters. Explain why ethics in your profession matters and contribute to its growth through educating others.

These hand-picked and quick guidelines apply to both yourselves as entrepreneurs and those you are working with to build your website.

DOING THE COMMISSIONING

• Don’t steal and don’t encourage the stealing of other people’s work. That includes other people’s designs, templates, photographs, code, working methodology or written work.

• If you’re going to use someone else’s work within your website, make sure you either have the permission to do so or properly recognize the hard work put into it through attribution. The consequences involved by falsely using other people’s work as your own harms your work, reputation and the original author of the work you are misusing.

• Acknowledge the benefits of competition but understand the greater benefits of cooperation. Nothing will bring a greater feeling of goodness than being involved in civic activities that improve society’s appreciation of your profession and its professional responsibilities. Don’t mislead people by withholding or disguising useful knowledge about what you do. You’ve built an accessible platform you can use to deliver education. Educate your competitors and your consumers first, then make a sale.

• Avoid harming the reputation and work of your professional peers or competitors through verbal assault, unnecessary slander, and subjective feedback. You are entitled, however, to engage in friendly criticism by providing constructive feedback. There’s a fine line between providing well-intentioned responsible feedback and harming others in pursuit of competitive goals. Make sure you make that distinction when giving feedback about other people’s work on the web.

• Do not discriminate against on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, opinion or sexual preference on your website. Do not insinuate or imply on your website that you target or prefer certain consumers or a group of consumers over others.

• Trying to over-sell what you offer harms you and those you are trying to inform. Clearly explain the value behind what you offer through transparent, informative, useful and realistic means. Avoid deceiving means such as flashy banners, misleading numbers, hidden charges, over-hyped features, benefits or unnecessary verbiage.

• Sometimes, you may have to collect personal information from your users on your website such as their names and emails. Don’t try to make a profit out of selling this information you have collected about people to others. It’s wrong.

• When working with someone who’s helping you build your website, make sure all the project’s details are disclosed. You both should know what payments (and extra charges) are involved, who owns what, how to terminate the project and the responsibilities each party holds.

• Fight against speculative work. Speculative work, also known as ‘spec work’ is work that’s done before securing any form of compensation. Work is usually submitted by willing individuals through some form of “competition” that aims to evaluate their skills to produce results following the very brief instructions given. Only one submission gets picked through arbitrary means and perhaps, be paid for. The rest lose the opportunity, the time they’ve invested, and all rights to the submitted work since there was no binding agreement. This is not illegal, but unethical. Try asking a lawyer if he’d be willing to work for free and be paid only if you’re happy with the results, and if not, you’re free to go for any of the other lawyers you’ve also requested the same from.

• I find it unacceptable to put very little thought and effort into what you’re building. Finding out what to do and how to do it well is cheap and most of the time, free. There’s no excuse to being lazy and indifferent.

BEING COMMISSIONED

See Also

• If you are being asked to build a website for something you stand against, simply don’t. Exercising your freedom of choice is more important than the money you’re going to be paid or the guilt you’ll have to live with.

• Do not disclose information that is classified between yourself and those you are doing work for.

• Offer only what’s required for the job. There’s no need to throw in a bunch of other unnecessary products or services for the reason of charging more. Needless to mention, avoid hidden fees. Transparency is more rewarding.

• If you are unable to do the job, or feel like the job or its details might affect your work, avoid it. It’s easy to take in all jobs when there is money is in need and a lot harder to pick the right ones. Refer those who wanted to work with you to someone you trust that’s equally capable if you’re unable to take in the job.

• When you’re dealing with a bad client, remain professional and respectful. You don’t want to damage your life’s work and career because of someone’s bad temper or ill manners.

• Don’t charge for work that someone else will be doing for a lot cheaper. It’s simple, if you can’t tell your client how much the work ‘you’ performed actually costs, then you’re probably ripping them off. Don’t take advantage of the fact that the people you might work for won’t know what costs what.

• If there’s something you agreed to do and realized later that you couldn’t, make up for it. Drive that extra mile and exceed their expectations. Don’t leave a bad impression.

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