Legal and ethical considerations are aplenty in any fields of design and this includes web design. Web authors have many responsibilities when designing a website and release it on the web:
- Are the images on your site copyrighted? If so have you asked for permission to use the pictures? Do you have to use stock photos or make your own images?
- Is your website content age appropriate? If some contents are age restricted do you have to put up warnings or ask the user to specify their age before accessing the content?
- Is your content/information accurate or true? For my site, I need to advertise TCM but also make sure I’m not lying about the subject in order to sell products and services. It’s easy to get carried away with marketing but you have to consider ethical rights of the customers as well.
- Is your site utilising pirated software? Make sure you check before you embed a shifty looking software, breaking copyright laws can you in deep trouble.
- Are you spamming SEO? If I put kittens etc into my web’s HTML as keywords just so that it’ll show up in more searches despite my site being about TCM, Google and the likes won’t be very happy. Actually they might blacklist your site.
- Are you copying a website’s design that’s been patented? Whilst the internet is open and sharing is encouraged, stealing designs completely (especially patented designs) is considered unethical and will get lawyers and lawsuits tailing after you.
Constraints within design:
- Your design must stick to the brief. I can make the most stylised website in the world that wins awards for its artistic qualities and glittering cursor, but it will still be considered a bad website and get me a fail on my course. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the client brief and it doesn’t serve its purpose as a TCM website that’s simple, easy to use and aimed at mid-aged people. Before I want to make any design decisions I’ll have to make sure to look at the brief and consult the client.
- Project deadlines are the biggest enemies to a web designer. Since ideas and features have to be abandoned or cut just because you didn’t have enough time to implement them.
- Customer’s needs: you can’t just fill your pages with whatever you want. If I posted anything none TCM related it will only confuse the consumers.
- Lack of knowledge. I might have grown up in a family that practices TCM (my granddad and dad are both doctors that practises TCM and practically every other member of the family have been involved as nurses) but I know little to nothing about Chinese medicine. This is quite the problem when typing up the contents for my site. So as a solution I ask for resources from the client (my dad) and use them for the site. Doing some research on your own is also helpful.