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Legal and ethical issues in Web Design

20 Feb, 2014

"The Law is hard, but it is the Law" - Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

If there was no law and order in the universe, there would be chaos and those less advantaged would be stomped over and left behind. That one thing that differentiates our society or the digital world from the jungle is the set of laws and ethical guidelines. Hence it is very important to consider legal and ethical issues before setting up a website. Following are some guidelines a business must adhere to before working on the web design and content.

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Web accessibility initiative sets guidelines for all web designers to consider before setting up a website. These guidelines make a website accessible to several users, providing visual and audio alternative for the disabled. You don’t want to appear insensitive and taint your business reputation. Furthermore one might also go into a loss by annoying customers who could have made a huge purchase or may have been a profitable long term client.

Web Accessibility Initiative

WAI Guidelines 1.0

One should provide alternatives like adding descriptions to imagery, and show audio and video transcripts.

WAI Guidelines
  • One should not rely on colors alone, some form of underline or bold formatting should be done.
  • Use of markups and style sheets should be done where needed (preferable CSS style sheets).
  • Specify the language the web page is written in.
  • Tables that transform properly and don’t disrupt the formatting should be used.
  • Page should be compatible on several platforms and should be understandable on those platforms conveying the message in an appropriate way.
  • Allow users flexibly to turn off excessive animation, sound or visuals that might disturb them.
  • Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces – embedded objects, for example a video player with controls, should follow the same principles of accessibility.
  • Design should be controllable from other peripherals and not just the mouse (remote control, PDA or screen readers).
  • Use solutions that would allow your website to work on older browsers (if necessary).
  • Use W3C technologies and guidelines. In case of using technologies that do not follow W3C, look up W3C guidelines and make your devices accessible.
  • Don't just use visual clues; use HTML to show the orientation of the site content.
  • Show clear navigation to your users. They should see a “click here” line flashing where they are supposed to click.
  • Avoid grammatical or sequential errors. Your website should make sense to your viewers.

Source: http://www.iteracy.com/resources/build-a-better-website/wai-guidelines/


All materials on a website are copyrighted (property of the owner of that website) unless stated otherwise. One should check for permission to use those materials (permission is usually stated on the site). Users are equally responsible as well to report any bogus website or a website that abuses copyright laws.

Other ethical issues that may arise concern graphic designers not willing to associate themselves with that business, depending on the content of the business. Would a graphic designer design an ad campaign for a website that supports pornography or advertise abortion? These campaigns may not have any legal implications but then again, a web designer prepares it with the dos and don’ts of what he is not going to associate himself/herself with.

4M Designers keep in mind the legal and ethical issues, not only design a website that provides your viewers a unique user experience, but will also make sure it is reachable to all your viewers, thus establishing your business as not only profitable but also principled.