Recently a reader asked what I considered a professional designer.
It isn't how much you make or how flawless you think your code is – it's your actions and behavior that make you a pro.
What makes a pro in my eyes?
- You respect your clients, your peers AND your competition
- You work with a sense of decency and ethical standards (you don't cheat your clients and you don't steal ideas from others)
- You don't provide the same cookie-cutter solution to every client and call it "custom"
- You don't devalue your work OR your profession
- You don't devalue the work of others (especially in social media or online forums)
- You're constantly increasing your knowledgebase so you can provide the best solution for your client
What makes you not a pro?
I cringe when I see other designers (often newer to the industry) venting about their clients on social media. In one recent case I knew both parties and I was appalled at what the designer was stating on her twitter feed.
Remember, everything you do or say – WHEREVER you post it, is seen and noticed. You never know who is reading and watching – and how their opinion of you might shift. After reading those tweets, I knew I could never refer work to that designer.
This is a very small world – and references are a reflection of the referee.
There will always be people that will try your patience, situations that frustrate you and clients that you'll have to fire (more on that in an upcoming post…) I know there are days where you just want to scream.
Public forums are not the place.
Writing emails? You just never know what will get forwarded (I'm still amazed these days at emails I get forwarded to me containing sensitive personal information deep in the email thread…). Always make sure that EVERYTHING you write you wouldn't mind posted on the front of your home page.
See something incorrect posted in a Facebook forum? Don't ridicule the person publicly – try to connect with that person privately to explain your thoughts.
Your words live on – make sure you're proud of what they say about you.