What Ethical Responsibilities Does a Web Developer Have?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends very much upon your own personal view of the scope of any ethics involved.
Clearly any professional organisation or individual will be obliged to follow the law of the legal jurisdiction they operate within.
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Beyond that, there may have ethical responsibilities in areas such as:
• delivering a quality solution to you, that is in line with the original specification and quotation;
• to ensure that you are satisfied with the solution delivered;
• not to take any steps that would unnecessarily force you to award business to them again in future as a result of the building of your initial solution;
• to make sure that they use standard approaches and fully document their solution, so as to make it easily maintainable by others;
• providing you with accurate and truthful progress reports, as the build progresses;
• not to take any steps that might put your business interests at risk, even if it was an action that would benefit their own organisation..
Those are all largely related to their professional and commercial responsibilities towards you as a customer but there may be other things involved including:
• providing their staff with an equitable benefits package and appropriately safe and healthy working conditions;
• respecting the rights and entitlements of other organisations they may be working in partnership with including, for example, avoiding plagiarism or the unethical or even illegal use of software components built by others;
• perhaps having a stated green policy in the workplace;
• refusing to work for companies involved in activities that might be interpreted as being harmful to society; etc.
Today, many organisations have some form of ethical business mission statement that they may incorporate within their publicity. Of course, from a practical viewpoint, making such commitments in the public domain and complying with them privately are two very different things.
Some web developers may belong to various professional associations who might, to some extent, be in a position to periodically verify that they are conducting their business in line with the best ethical standards.
If you are dealing with a public company with published and audited accounts, it might be worth reading the auditor’s comments relating to the way they are conducting their affairs.
How Do You Get Started?
Many engagements with web developers traditionally commence with discussions that allow your potential provider to put some dimensions on your proposed developments. That will usually be followed up by a quotation, with all of the above often being done on a free of charge basis.
During your evaluation of proposals, you may wish to inspect what is said about ethical business conduct. You could ask them to make appropriate statements, as part of your request for a proposal.
What Web Developers Are Out There?
Two examples of companies operating under a published ethical development statement:
• Codeface, Brighton – a company that has been building web solutions since 1999 and which has a published statement of business ethics ;
• Anna Celeste Watson, Dorchester – a freelance web site designer operating under a stated ethical design framework.
Inevitably, the complexity of your requirements for a website will have a major impact on the price you pay.
Entry level prices for simple website might typically start somewhere in the low hundreds of pounds. More complicated websites involving transaction support and related facilities might cost several 1000 pounds.