Standards of professional practice — AIGA

Hi, I was brows­ing AIGA web­site, and I found out the organ­iz­a­tion has set up stand­ards for pro­fes­sional prac­tice in 1996. I am not sure if they have updated ver­sion but this this is what they have on the website:

A pro­fes­sional designer adheres to prin­ciples of integ­rity that demon­strate respect for the pro­fes­sion, for col­leagues, for cli­ents, for audi­ences or con­sumers, and for soci­ety as a whole.

These stand­ards define the expect­a­tions of a pro­fes­sional designer and rep­res­ent the dis­tinc­tion of an AIGA mem­ber in the prac­tice of design.

The designer’s respons­ib­il­ity to clients

1.1 A pro­fes­sional designer shall acquaint him­self or her­self with a client’s busi­ness and design stand­ards and shall act in the client’s best interest within the lim­its of pro­fes­sional responsibility.

1.2 A pro­fes­sional designer shall not work sim­ul­tan­eously on assign­ments that cre­ate a con­flict of interest without agree­ment of the cli­ents or employ­ers con­cerned, except in spe­cific cases where it is the con­ven­tion of a par­tic­u­lar trade for a designer to work at the same time for vari­ous competitors.

1.3 A pro­fes­sional designer shall treat all work in pro­gress prior to the com­ple­tion of a pro­ject and all know­ledge of a client’s inten­tions, pro­duc­tion meth­ods and busi­ness organ­iz­a­tion as con­fid­en­tial and shall not divulge such inform­a­tion in any man­ner what­so­ever without the con­sent of the cli­ent. It is the designer’s respons­ib­il­ity to ensure that all staff mem­bers act accordingly.

1.4 A pro­fes­sional designer who accepts instruc­tions from a cli­ent or employer that involve viol­a­tion of the designer’s eth­ical stand­ards should be cor­rec­ted by the designer, or the designer should refuse the assignment.

The designer’s respons­ib­il­ity to other designers

2.1 Designers in pur­suit of busi­ness oppor­tun­it­ies should sup­port fair and open competition.

2.2 A pro­fes­sional designer shall not know­ingly accept any pro­fes­sional assign­ment on which another designer has been or is work­ing without noti­fy­ing the other designer or until he or she is sat­is­fied that any pre­vi­ous appoint­ments have been prop­erly ter­min­ated and that all mater­i­als rel­ev­ant to the con­tinu­ation of the pro­ject are the clear prop­erty of the client.

2.3 A pro­fes­sional designer must not attempt, dir­ectly or indir­ectly, to sup­plant or com­pete with another designer by means of uneth­ical inducements.

2.4 A pro­fes­sional designer shall be object­ive and bal­anced in cri­ti­ciz­ing another designer’s work and shall not den­ig­rate the work or repu­ta­tion of a fel­low designer.

2.5 A pro­fes­sional designer shall not accept instruc­tions from a cli­ent that involve infringe­ment of another person’s prop­erty rights without per­mis­sion, or con­sciously act in any man­ner involving any such infringement.

2.6 A pro­fes­sional designer work­ing in a coun­try other than his or her own shall observe the rel­ev­ant Code of Conduct of the national soci­ety concerned.


3.1 A pro­fes­sional designer shall work only for a fee, a roy­alty, salary or other agreed-upon form of com­pens­a­tion. A pro­fes­sional designer shall not retain any kick­backs, hid­den dis­counts, com­mis­sion, allow­ances or pay­ment in kind from con­tract­ors or sup­pli­ers. Clients should be made aware of mark-ups.

3.2 A reas­on­able hand­ling and admin­is­tra­tion charge may be added, with the know­ledge and under­stand­ing of the cli­ent, as a per­cent­age to all reim­burs­able items, bil­lable to a cli­ent, that pass through the designer’s account.

3.3 A pro­fes­sional designer who has a fin­an­cial interest in any sup­pli­ers who may bene­fit from a recom­mend­a­tion made by the designer in the course of a pro­ject will inform the cli­ent or employer of this fact in advance of the recommendation.

3.4 A pro­fes­sional designer who is asked to advise on the selec­tion of design­ers or the con­sult­ants shall not base such advice in the receipt of pay­ment from the designer or con­sult­ants recommended.


4.1 Any self-promotion, advert­ising or pub­li­city must not con­tain delib­er­ate mis­state­ments of com­pet­ence, exper­i­ence or pro­fes­sional cap­ab­il­it­ies. It must be fair both to cli­ents and other designers.

4.2 A pro­fes­sional designer may allow a cli­ent to use his or her name for the pro­mo­tion of work designed or ser­vices provided in a man­ner that is appro­pri­ate to the status of the profession.


5.1 A pro­fes­sional designer shall not claim sole credit for a design on which other design­ers have collaborated.

5.2 When not the sole author of a design, it is incum­bent upon a pro­fes­sional designer to clearly identify his or her spe­cific respons­ib­il­it­ies or involve­ment with the design. Examples of such work may not be used for pub­li­city, dis­play or port­fo­lio samples without clear iden­ti­fic­a­tion of pre­cise areas of authorship.

The designer’s respons­ib­il­ity to the public

6.1 A pro­fes­sional designer shall avoid pro­jects that will res­ult in harm to the public.

6.2 A pro­fes­sional designer shall com­mu­nic­ate the truth in all situ­ations and at all times; his or her work shall not make false claims nor know­ingly mis­in­form. A pro­fes­sional designer shall rep­res­ent mes­sages in a clear man­ner in all forms of com­mu­nic­a­tion design and avoid false, mis­lead­ing and decept­ive promotion.

6.3 A pro­fes­sional designer shall respect the dig­nity of all audi­ences and shall value indi­vidual dif­fer­ences even as they avoid depict­ing or ste­reo­typ­ing people or groups of people in a neg­at­ive or dehu­man­iz­ing way. A pro­fes­sional designer shall strive to be sens­it­ive to cul­tural val­ues and beliefs and engages in fair and bal­anced com­mu­nic­a­tion design that fosters and encour­ages mutual understanding.

The designer’s respons­ib­il­ity to soci­ety and the environment

7.1 A pro­fes­sional designer, while engaged in the prac­tice or instruc­tion of design, shall not know­ingly do or fail to do any­thing that con­sti­tutes a delib­er­ate or reck­less dis­reg­ard for the health and safety of the com­munit­ies in which he or she lives and prac­tices or the pri­vacy of the indi­vidu­als and busi­nesses therein. A pro­fes­sional designer shall take a respons­ible role in the visual por­trayal of people, the con­sump­tion of nat­ural resources, and the pro­tec­tion of anim­als and the environment.

7.2 A pro­fes­sional designer shall not know­ingly accept instruc­tions from a cli­ent or employer that involve infringe­ment of another person’s or group’s human rights or prop­erty rights without per­mis­sion of such other per­son or group, or con­sciously act in any man­ner involving any such infringement.

7.3 A pro­fes­sional designer shall not know­ingly make use of goods or ser­vices offered by man­u­fac­tur­ers, sup­pli­ers or con­tract­ors that are accom­pan­ied by an oblig­a­tion that is sub­stant­ively det­ri­mental to the best interests of his or her cli­ent, soci­ety or the environment.

7.4 A pro­fes­sional designer shall refuse to engage in or coun­ten­ance dis­crim­in­a­tion on the basis of race, sex, age, reli­gion, national ori­gin, sexual ori­ent­a­tion or disability.

7.5 A pro­fes­sional designer shall strive to under­stand and sup­port the prin­ciples of free speech, free­dom of assembly, and access to an open mar­ket­place of ideas and shall act accordingly.


2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Rebecca Lee,

    The whole doc­u­ment seems to have even cov­er­age over most of the issues that we have raised as rel­ev­ant, how­ever it still seems lim­ited in a couple of areas.

    There seems to be a lack of appre­ci­ation for the design pro­cess and the dif­fer­ent dis­cip­lines involved, although I except that this may be impossible to achieve as it caries for dif­fer­ent design media indus­tries. ie. The dif­fer­ence between ‘above the line’ cam­paigns and web pro­ject could be big in terms of production.

    Having said this 2.5 seems to address that design­ers do work together and it is import­ant to acknow­ledge author­ship. Perhaps this could be exten­ded to include that…

    There should be an adequate hand over of phys­ical work aswell as inten­tions; to the next designer in the pro­duc­tion chain, in order to main­tain the aims and goals of the pro­ject ‘signed off’ by the cli­ent. This should include the hand­ing over of files and mater­i­als neces­sary for the com­pleti­tion of work. However all of which should be pre-decided between the designer and cli­ent in order not to con­tra­vene the rules set out con­cern­ing author­ship and IP. Also ensur­ing that the agree­ments are mor­ally accep­ted by the next designer”.

    This may have already been covered by sec­tion 6, how­ever I wanted to high­light that some of the worst offenses occur in the con­fu­sion of many people author­ing on the same pro­ject and each hav­ing their own instructions.

    My diary says that we are present­ing on our first wed­nes­day back, does any­one know if this is the case and if so do we need to dis­cuss how we could present work to date?

    Happy Easter

  2. Eleanor,

    Yes I agree it does seem to cover a lot of what we have bee talk­ing about, it’s just a shame I’ve never heard about it before. This could admit­tedly be for my own ignor­ance and the fact that I am not a designer in America but I get the impres­sion that this state­ment is some­thing that is not act­ively pro­moted which is a shame. Has any­one else come across the state­ment before? Does the Chartered Society of Designers or any­one else have a British equi­val­ent of the statement?

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