Work integrity: The soloist’s dilemma
I’m in business for many reasons. One is to make myself happy, and another is to make others delighted. But what if, to make others happy, I have to compromise my work integrity?
I recently created a web design concept for my client. It was a simple, yet sophisticated design with one particular image taking centre stage. I loved it, and secretly felt it was my best design yet.
My client liked the principle. But she wanted two major changes to the design. Two changes which, in my professional opinion, would compromise the success of the design to achieve her website goals and my work integrity.
I explained my thought process, yet she was adamant I make the changes.
So I did. And I was horrified. I was even more horrified she was ecstatic with the design, promptly approving the go ahead of its development.
But should I have been?
It made me wonder, is she paying me for my professional opinion, and then making her own deciding judgment? If she’s paying me well and is in love with her website, should I even care?
"I can now empathise with chefs whose diners ask for changes to their meal. Previously, my response was ‘The client is the paying party, so if they want tomato sauce in their lobster bisque, get cracking’."
Or should I point blank refuse to compromise the design, maintaining the integrity of my work but angering my client, potentially severing a prosperous relationship and loads of referrals?
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Who is this actually about?
One thing I do know is I will not associate my business with this design.
Selfishly, I am disappointed that I can’t add this design to my portfolio. I’m emotionally tied to my designs, and I’m proud of what I produce. I do not want others, particularly potential clients, thinking this design is mine. I feel it would tarnish my reputation.
I know my emotions have dangerously entered the equation; I’m not sure you can prevent this in a creative and subjective industry. It’s the emotion that makes our work so rich.
I can now empathise with chefs whose diners ask for changes to their meal. Before this situation, my response was ‘The client is the paying party, so if they want tomato sauce in their lobster bisque, get cracking’.
Now, I’m not so sure.
So, tell me. What do you do if your client asks you to smother your masterpiece in tomato sauce? What value do you place on work integrity?