It's the New Year, and one of the things we have been talking about over the last few months is our responsibility as designers and developers.

I used to be grateful that we weren't making air traffic control software. While the web is still not likely to kill people if it malfunctions, so many things we develop now can have a big impact, either on a business owner, or on their customers.

Mike Monteiro in his presentation 'How Designers Destroyed the World' at Webstock 2014 exhorted designers to:

"Recognize the power that we have to make things happen", and

"Recognize that with that power comes the responsibility to do it right, and to do the right thing."

The right thing isn't always the same thing, in terms of platform. The problem is that it's impossible for most clients to check on whether what they are getting is what they need.

Recently I was able to purchase a product from a small NZ company for $0 - expecting that when they received my order they would tell me how much to pay. I got the product for free and have had no response to my emails. The products are still available for $0 on their website. How long can a company go on selling things for free? 

Last year I met with owners of 2 Kiwi businesses which are doing well and gaining large numbers of customers. The more they succeed, the more their websites fall over. Both invested substantially in developing an application they thought would last at least 3 or 4 years.

In both cases the developer kept the client in the dark about the reason for the problem, which was that the app was badly architected.

It's up to us as designers and developers to take responsibility for what we do and say.

  • Make the best suggestions we can, and if the budget doesn't fit the job be clear about the downside
  • Don't do the job if the only solution is a bad one
  • Look in on our clients every now and then and make sure that the application is working for them. They need to be working on other aspects of their businesses.