Credits and Recognition

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  1. Ryan Taylor

    This is a topic I’m particular passionate about at the moment and I’ve been talking about it myself quite a bit. In fact I’ve restructured my website and business model around the idea of credit and collaboration.

    One of the most important things you can do as a freelancer is identify your own weaknesses and find the best people you can to fill the gaps.

    I’ve worked for agencies myself that you do some work for thinking this will be great for your portfolio and when you ask if it’s ok to talk about it they tell you no. It amazes me that these people do this.

    If you think about it from a marketing point of view, open collaboration and crediting benefits everyone involved. The end client is getting a better product and the agency/freelancer or freelancer/freelancer or agency/agency are getting twice the exposer. If I work on a site with a great designer and we both put that site in our portfolio, each crediting the other, we’ve both just doubled our reach. We’re both advertising each others work and if/when a future client contacts one of us thanks to that work the likelihood is we’ll team up again.

    It just makes sense to me.

    To this end crediting is one of the early discussions I have on every project. It’s even a part of my standard contract.

    Great post Geri. More people should see the importance of this.

  2. Shane Hudson

    Thank you Geri. This is a topic that hardly ever comes up (except perhaps when it comes to photography copyright, occasionally), yet it involves the entire industry. Websites are getting big these days, some are massive. So we/people should not expect them to be made by a single person. If anything, it shows that you can work well in a team if you explain who did each role (or at minimum, that you didn’t do it all yourself).

    I don’t have a portfolio for a variety of reasons but I do make it extremely clear on my homepage (screenshot) that I am a website developer and that I work with designers.

    However, I have worked with people in the past that have almost deliberately taken all of the credit. It got to a point where I preferred working under an NDA so that I was able to charge extra for the fact that they were taking credit. That is one reason why I don’t have a portfolio, and am very glad to no longer be needing use an NDA since I have incredible clients now who do credit me.

    I found it was mainly the larger companies/agencies that were the worst, so currently whenever I do any work (I’m not taking on much this year) I always make sure it is with somebody who respects the work that I do… generally designers rather than working through project managers.

    My plan is to start working on larger sites again in a year or two, since I have a lot of experience now and would like to work at a larger scale but hopefully between now and then I can find the clients who will be the best match for me and that treat the people they work with properly.

  3. James Fenton

    Excellent and very timely post Geri. Credit and authenticity of portfolio work is a really important issue in the web design industry and with more and more designers coming in all the time, it is vital for anyone hiring talent to clearly understand where an individual’s skills lie and ultimately how they are at working with others.

    ..and a little like yourself, I recently fell foul to discovering my own work being presented in someone else’s portfolio without the proper credit given.

    A couple of years ago, whilst leaving a company to set up my own studio, I sat on the interview panel hiring for a number of roles for the design team I was leaving behind. One particularly candidate, although coming across a little awkwardly during the interview, was hired almost entirely on the basis of presenting a really excellent portfolio to us and a strong CV working for some really heavy weight name.

    Sadly, as I later learned, they did not exactly live up to expectation and could not work well with the rest of team. It was disappointing to hear, though put it down to clash of personalities and style.

    However, In September this year, the same person emailed me to ask if I’d sit on the panel for a Behance portfolio review they were hosting at a local meetup. It seemed like a fun thing to do, so agreed to come along. Thankfully before the event they sent me a copy of their own portfolio to look through. In there were all the previous projects I had seen during the interview, then suddenly I start seeing my own design work and projects I myself had art directed and brought to fruition. The worst part was the lack of any recognition for any other team member and was written like they were some kind of genius prodigy who could do it all. It all suddenly made sense!

    Along with the bemused amazement at this individual’s stupidity sending me this in the first place, I was also filled with a mix of anger and shame for having fallen for this sham myself.

    You can imagine the rest! …and although not prepared to organise a public flogging, I obviously didn’t take part in the portfolio review event!

  4. John Pencola

    Thanks for bringing this to light. Giving credit is an interesting subject to me as well and a practice I’d like to see much more attention to when it comes digital creations. I’ll share with you something that I thought was kind of neat ~3 years ago when I released “Alex Duvans’ website:http://alexduvan.com/. Click on the credit link in the lower-left of the footer. I was inspired by the way some desktop software provides a menu option for “help/about” where the attributions are displayed in a modal window.

  5. avangelist

    There are a few new webpage trends that have emerged over the last few years such as Style guide and Cookie Policy.

    So why not suggest a Credits page. Is it any different to a magazine index or the end of a show, video game? We can so why don’t we?

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