The Idea of Professionalism in Design

Without question, designers of all stripes love the idea of professionalism. It’s just that most prefer that idea remain as vague as possible in practical definition and application. The result is that the concept gets relegated to a station of subjectivity and cited merely for its halo effect.Image

I find that the vast majority of designers, when asked to define it, associate professional website design practice almost exclusively with technical quality or “seriousness,” ignoring the uncompromising ethical, process, discrimination, and accountability factors. This is an unfortunate and disappointing sentiment, as professionalism has absolutely nothing to do with technical quality; which should merely be one positive result of projects involving professionals.

The reason for this preference is not so deep or difficult to understand: professionalism is expensive for designers. Proper preparation takes years and requires institutional guidance from senior professional peers. Professional standards impose grave responsibilities on the designer and are difficult to uncompromisingly maintain. They also tend to challenge the preconceptions of just about everyone who encounters them; designers included. According to the character of those brushing up against them, requirements for the professional conduct of design projects can be refreshingly positive or intensely off-putting.

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