In 2007, seeking basic business data about the profession of web design, Eric Meyer and I commissioned a research group to create a snapshot of web designers—their career paths, training, salaries, skills, and titles. The researchers came up empty. Although the web is a powerful agent of artistic, cultural, financial, and political change, nobody in all those dizzy dot-com years had bothered to gather even the most basic data on people who create websites.

“There's data on IT professionals,” the researchers told us. “Is that the same thing?” Uh, no.

Clearly, if we web designers wanted to share and learn from the kind of data members of other professions take for granted, we would need to dig it up for ourselves. The A List Apart survey for people who make websites, conducted annually since 2007, was our community's first attempt to do that. But far more must be done if our profession is to gain the stature our work should already have earned for it.

Enter Andy Rutledge. Almost alone among design bloggers, his has been a clear, consistent voice fostering respect for this profession by calling on designers to take their work as seriously as oncologists take theirs. Online, he is both a Platonist and a provocateur, a professor and a street fighter. You may not always agree with his views but you can never simply dismiss them. Nor, if you are honest, can you fail to respect the profundity of his passion for this work and the depth of his challenge to those who practice it.

Now Andy has condensed years of design and business experience into the pages of this brief, illuminating, and occasionally infuriating book. Read it, share it, fight about it. Design Professionalism will not fix our society. Our journalists will still chatter about the valuation of Facebook while placing almost no value on the design artistry that makes sites like Facebook possible. But that's all right. It's all right because we have Andy and this book to remind us that the work we do matters profoundly, and that the tie between designer and client is sacred.

Jeffrey Zeldman
Publisher, A List Apart
Founder & Executive Creative Director, Happy Cog