The 7 Heavenly Virtues of Design

No one intends for their business to stagnate. In an attempt to advance their freelance work, many people turn to the wealth of advice on the Internet.

But several age-old virtues seem to be lacking from the online conversation. This post is an attempt to rediscover them.

There is more to the success or failure of a business than attracting new clients. Reputation is also important.

How do you ensure that people say good things about you?

Applying the seven virtues to your freelance enterprise could boost its reach and image among the masses online. Do your virtues need a bit of polishing?

Are you a freelance saint?


1. Chastity

In this case, we’re not talking about the personal lives of designers, but rather how designers relate to others in the field. Designers should strive to be honest with themselves and their clients. Our intentions need to be pure.

Trustworthiness is fundamental to building a business. Progress is difficult without it. Once people trust you, then they’ll know you won’t mislead them about your capabilities or a project’s requirements. Word will spread.

Avoid false posturing. Be honest about who you are.


2. Temperance

A temperate person has self-restraint and acts in moderation. Keep the truism “all things in moderation” in mind for the sake of your business’ reputation.

Just as squirrels store nuts for the winter, freelancers take on too much work at once out of a fear of dry spells. Instead, take responsibility by not taking on more jobs than you can handle. Moderation will keep you sane. Not having time to do a job properly will hurt the project, the client and your reputation.

When you’re overworked, the fire burns out.


3. Charity

Nowadays, charity tends to mean contributing to a non-profit organization. We’re not suggesting you go out right now and do this (unless you want to, of course). Rather, the essence of charity is self-sacrifice, generosity and love. And freelancers can certainly apply these to their work.

Delivering more than is expected on a project is an example of what we’re talking about. By surpassing the expectations of both clients and users, both are likely to return regularly. So, whether it means finishing a project before it’s due or creating one more mock-up for the client, a charitable disposition wins people over. Being generous is easy if you love what you do.

If you love your work, you’ll make the most of every project.


4. Diligence

A diligent person constantly guards against laziness. Budget your time and stick to a schedule, even when no one is watching.

Freelancers are their own boss; the responsibility to stay on task falls to them, but some have difficulty policing themselves. The best strategy is to maintain a fixed schedule. This will keep you on task and away from surfing and social media. Allot time for email, RSS feeds and other time eaters.

Working from home doesn’t mean it’s play time.


5. Patience

Most people tend to think of patience as meaning tolerance for what irritates them. In the context of design, fostering a healthy and supportive community requires patience, too.

When establishing your presence as a freelancer, try to appreciate the rich, thriving community that’s already online. Work for the community, not against it, and don’t alienate anyone. Patience is vital in this. Also, try to foster a sense of community around your brand.

You are one of a vibrant cast of characters.


6. Kindness

This one’s not hard to figure out. Being kind and gentle draws people to your business. Maintaining a pleasant demeanor and being courteous will inspire kindness in those you interact with.

Harboring a grudge or using a harsh tone of voice will cause you to suffer in the end. Clients remember abrasive manners and and defensive postures, and they’re the sort of thing they tell their colleagues about.

Kindness will enhance your reputation.


7. Humility

The last one is humility, often considered a weakness in the design community. While not many seek it out, humility is about giving credit where it’s due, which sometimes means refraining from putting yourself on a pedestal.

Freelancers have to promote themselves, but too many are inclined to hype. Self-promotion is acceptable to clients, while bragging turns them off, because clients are led to expect too much. Balance the urge to promote yourself with a healthy dose of humility.

Exaggerating your abilities leads to disappointed clients.

Written exclusively for WDD by Rob Bowen. He is an emerging author and the co-founder and imaginative co-contributor of the creative design and blogging duo at the Arbenting Freebies Blog and Dead Wings Designs.

Have you embraced these virtues in your career? Why or why not? Please share below…

  • Web Designer Delhi

    Very Very Nice…

  • Jonathan Ogden

    Best accompanying photos ever. Great post too, some really good points in here. The same things apply to working in a design studio too I think. The humility point is really important too. There’s a fine balance between blowing your own trumpet and just doing a bit of self-promotion. Personally, I can’t stand telling people my work is good. I’d much rather just show it them and let the work speak for itself.

  • vector

    Thanks for the article. It’s rather useful for us young designers…

  • John Peet

    Love the graphical representations. Classic!

  • majstor

    OMG you are definitely running out of good posts.

  • Thomas

    Cute, but not really design related. You could take the 10 commandments, engineering math or Kant philosophy and relate it to design with the same arguments. Inversely, you could also take the 7 virtues and relate them to any other field of expertise like therapy, football or secretary school, which again proves that this is not really about design at all.

    The illustration are really well done, congratulations.

  • SavTheCoder

    great post! loving the stormtroopers!

  • TrafficColeman

    Temperance people are so out of touch individuals. Their moods are just horrible and most don’t succeed. Patient people are more lily to make in life versus other close mined people.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  • Paul

    This was totally awesome, loved it and can’t wait to share it with folks in a few!

  • Silverpulp

    These can be applied to life in general. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa Miller

    Excellent read. Love the pictures that come along with each virtue. May I say that these virtues are applicable in all walks of life; I love how you relate these to design.

  • James

    A majority of these virtues are discovered when you become a freelancer. You need to manage your time carefully in order to develop a sucessful business. We all encounter projects that take longer than expected.

    Being honest is one of the best policies for success. Patience is vital. You’ll notice that when you begin freelancing it is about who you know. Networking is an important aspect of any business.

    These toys figures are an excellent way of displaying your message.

    It also adds some humour to the subject.

  • BrassDesign

    Hahaha, the photos with stromtroopers indeed amuzed me a lot. Got to share these seven heavenly virtues of design on Twitter!

  • Stan

    Thanks for taking time to think about important yet no obvious things in everyday lives of freelance designers. The best way to get work is from references and in order to achieve that you need to obey the 7 virtues above any time you can.

  • rajasegar

    surely heavenly, will try to follow atleast one of them….

  • rmaenza

    Very nice read! The virtues are very important and I like the pics you placed too. More people/designers should read and understand these virtues.

  • Shankar

    Thanks much for these kind of post., Add more like this, will help the newbies to keep us on track and maintain a good relationship with Clients.

  • Angelee

    I guess most readers were amused by the versatile stormtrooper actors. I love them too. I bet the next article would be the seven deadly sins of design… haha

    Nice article…

  • arnold

    I love the storm troopers here , hehe, damn funny especially the last one…

  • Othmane

    i actually have some trouble respecting the fourth one ;)

  • Deena

    I sure wish people in all types of business and in all walks of life would adhere to these virtues! The world would be a much better place.

  • Alaine

    That is such a nice read and love how you presented each. You really did put your heart writing this stuff.

  • Bogdanel

    Really nice advices and considerations! Good work Rob.

  • Curtis Scott

    I wish everyone I worked with on both sides, clients and designers/devs, would read this. The patience part was most insightful for me.

  • Web Design Hull

    Some really good advice there, thanks for posting.
    Love the images!

  • flashpixel

    Totally true.. m working my best to follow these tips :) thanks for sharing. i will share too :)

  • EnvySufferer

    I love the pictures! The illustration is very fantastic!