by james mathias / 2006 / personal

I’ve been working in the web development industry for five years now. For five years I’ve been able to sustain a specific lifestyle, working solo. Working in an industry I both love and admire. I’ve seen designers, programmers, ideas, businesses and so on, come and go, come again then leave once more. I’ve heard just about every conceivable pitch for projects from one page brochures to one-hundred page social networks. I’ve been offered partnerships, equity, free hosting and heard promises of more work to come. Basically I’ve heard it all.

There is one thing I do above all else that keeps my business running and my mind clear. Keeps me riding the karmic bicycle in the right direction if you will.

That thing. That one, simple thing is; Respect.

I respect my colleagues. I respect my clients; potential, past and current alike. I respect my craft. I respect my ego. I respect the technology.

I never take a project that is being bid upon by more than just myself. This is respect for my colleagues. There is no need for this type of competitiveness in our industry. It’s petty, unprofessional and it’s playing into the hand of the client. I don’t do it as a rule. I sleep well at night knowing that all my clients came to me specifically because they wanted to work with me. I don’t fight uphill battles I cannot win, because I don’t have to resell myself at every stage. I don’t have to worry about losing a project due to being under-bid.

I don’t talk about other designers or developers to clients. It’s not my place to form opinions on the work of others in this space and then spew those opinions in a manner that could lose that person some work. I respect my peers, by not talking about them, no matter how I feel inside. That’s not to say I’ve never complained about someone to my wife, or friends. Just that I don’t do it with a client.

I understand and comprehend that my craft is ever changing, and quickly moving forward. I realize that I can never know it all. I’m a master of nothing. I’m a student and just trying to keep up. This is how I respect my craft. I read, I learn and I grow.

I never allow myself to brag about what I have built. I use a portfolio, but I do not actively stick it in people’s faces. I let them come to me, and decide if my work is what they are looking for. I let my portfolio speak for my work, and then I speak for me. When you hire me, you get more than a body of work. I do not claim to have awesome code, I don’t exclaim to the heavens that my designs are the bomb. I let my work go, I set it free, and if it’s good enough it brings some folks back to me. This is how I respect my ego.

I don’t take for granted that my work will be safe on my computer, I don’t believe that I’ll open Internet Explorer and find no bugs. I know that my art is at the mercy of the technology with which it is viewed. I let it go, I’m serene in the fact that I have no control over what my work looks like to others. I embrace the subjective and I respect the technology.

In five years have I made mistakes? Loads, with more on the horizon I’m sure.

In five years, do I have areas where I can improve and make better my process? Absolutely!

In ten years will either of these things change? Probably not. But I’m great with that. If I stop learning or evolving, then what would be the point?

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

Kurt Vonnegut circa 1961