A Designer's Code of Ethics

By Mike Monteiro

A designer is part of a professional community.

You are part of a professional community and the way you do your job and handle yourself professionally affects everyone in that community. Just as a rising tide affects all boats, taking a shit in the pool affects all swimmers. If you are dishonest with a client or employer, the designer behind you will pay the price. If you work for free, the designer behind you will be expected to do the same. If you do not hold your ground on doing bad work, the designer behind you will have to work twice as hard to make up for it.

While a designer has an ethical obligation to earn a living to the best of their abilities and opportunities, doing it at the expense of others who share the craft is a disservice to us all. Never throw another designer under the bus to advance your own agenda. This includes public redesigns of someone else's work, spec work, unsolicited work, and plagiarism.

A designer seeks to build the community, not divide it.

A designer welcomes a diverse and competitive field.

Throughout their entire career, a designer seeks to learn. That means confronting what they do not know. That means listening to other people's experiences. That means welcoming and encouraging people who come from diverse backgrounds, diverse cultures. That means making space at the table for people who society has historically kept down. We must make space for traditionally marginalized voices to be heard in the profession. Diversity leads to better outcomes and solutions. Diversity leads to better design.

"You'll never go wrong when you work with someone smarter than you.” — Tibor Kalman

A designer keeps their ego in check, knows when to shut up and listen, is aware of their own biases and welcomes having them checked, and fights to make room for those who have been silenced. Read more....