The 7 Heavenly Virtues of Design

WebdesignerDepot Staff By WDD Staff  |  Nov. 24, 2010

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.


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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…