What are design ethics and why are they important?

Design ethics refer to the moral and ethical practices involved in designing websites.

If you’ve read our recent blog on dark patterns in web design, you’re probably already aware of some ways web designers can use unethical tactics.

Some designers will use unethical practices for a variety of reasons. Sometimes clients will ask for certain dodgy website features and web designers will agree.

Other times, designers might choose to employ sneaky black hat SEO tactics to make it appear as though they’ve done thorough SEO work for your site, when in actuality you will likely experience short-term benefits and long-term penalties from Google.

Some unethical ways to design websites

When we talk about unethical design, we aren’t necessarily referring to a scenario where a website designer is taking your money and providing you with no finished product. That’s an entirely different type of shady behaviour. We’re talking about website designers who do things like:

  • Create newsletters that are impossible to unsubscribe from.
  • Automatically add items to shopping carts in online stores.
  • Use black hat SEO tactics like cloaking or abusing structured data.
  • Adding important information in fine print with the intentions of tricking website visitors.

Some ethical and inclusive ways to design websites

Creating ethical websites is quite easy and simple, but there are ways to go above and beyond to accommodate a wider range of website visitors. Some great ways to make inclusive web design includes:

  • Making sure your content is in plain English (or plain language) and easy to understand without any sneaky tricks to get more sales.
  • Using fonts that are easy to read for individuals with visual impairment.
  • Adding captions to your videos so those who are Deaf or hard of hearing can still enjoy your content.
  • Describe images using alt text for those using screen readers (it’s great for SEO, too).
  • Make it easy to click on buttons on phones, tablets, and computers.
  • Use colours that are simple, keeping folks with colour blindness in mind.

How you can find an ethical web designer

All good web designers will be ethical. If they’re not ethical, they’re just not good. There’s no easy way to tell whether or not the web designer you’re considering engaging is ethical, but there are a few things you can check to get a good idea of the quality of their work and their integrity:

  • Check their Google My Business page reviews. Unhappy clients will often write reviews, so look out for ratings that are less than glowing.
  • Read through your potential web designer’s Terms and Conditions to get a good understanding of their process.
  • Take a look through the websites they’ve already created. If their portfolio is full of wonderfully designed websites, you’re likely in good hands.

Ethics relating to client relationships

Although design ethics directly refers to the way websites are built, it’s good to keep in mind other common best practices that quality web designers use. Upon request, your web designer or web developer should:

  • Provide you with the login details to your custom CMS or WordPress dashboard.
  • Give you full access to your hosting account.
  • Allow you to register your own domain name.
  • Ensure your domain name is registered with you as the Administrative contact with up-to-date contact details
  • Set you up as the owner of your Google Analytics account and add themselves as an administrator.

Get in touch with a Melbourne website designer

If you want to work with an agency dedicated to ethical and high quality web design, web development, and web management services, you can get in contact with our team at Digital Bridge. We’re happy to chat via email at hello@digitalbridge.com.au or over the phone at +613 8658 2434.