At the end of 2020, as a part of a week of strategy and planning for 2021, we had a brainstorming meeting with some members of our team. We decided to break off into three different groups to discuss what Plank’s vision should be for 2021. When we came back to compare notes, there were a lot of expected, common themes. One term mentioned by one of the teams impressed me and consumed my thinking for the next two weeks over the holiday break — designing ethically driven websites.

The idea of developing ethical websites was an exciting challenge and one that, as I thought about it more, made completely perfect sense.

If you’ve been following along with some of the recent stories posted on our site, you’ll notice that we’ve been sharing our approach on topics like accessibility, responsive design, security, environmental concerns and development standards. For years, we have had a particular way we chose to develop digital projects, but never clearly and completely articulated our approach. We have specific standards and expectations that our team clearly knows, but we haven’t as clearly stated them to our prospective clients and partners.

What is Ethical Website Design?

When we first started throwing around the word “ethical” to describe some of the themes in our work that we were seeing, I found myself slightly uncomfortable. Using the word meant that we were taking a stand that insinuated that our position in how we were going to start approaching our work was going to be of a moral standard, higher than others. As someone who tries not to judge others and their choices in life, I didn’t want to take such a dogmatic stand.

Upon reflection, I found myself more comfortable with the word not because I found myself judging others, but setting a minimum benchmark for what I found acceptable for us as an organization. It became clear that to be responsible citizens of the internet, our work must meet specific standards.

We are proud today to share with you the culmination of our recent standards, which we are launching as our Ethical Web Design Framework version 1.0. Plank’s Ethical Web Design Framework is a set of user-centric principles that ensure all of our websites meet our five core goals; 

  • Accessibility & Inclusion
  • Privacy & Security
  • Device-First Design
  • Development Best Practices & Sustainability
  • Environmental Considerations

If you want to review our Ethical Web Design Framework, feel free to download our PDF. If you want to discuss the document or suggest changes, we are open to your thoughts since our goal is to strive towards being a better and more responsible company.

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