The EcoSend Podcast

We are delighted to offer you another episode with a real veteran of Digital Sustainability - Tim Frick from Mightybytes!

Tim has been campaigning for Sustainability and Accessibility in web design since way back in 1998, and holds the honour of being the 435th official BCorp in the world!

If you want to learn about how the BCorp certification can change your business for good, both for planet and for commercial success, then there are few people better than Tim to listen to!

Tim gave us 35 minutes of pure gold; this is an episode crammed full of insights and lessons Tim has acquired over his many years fighting for a more Sustainable and Accessible digital environment.

Our topics for this episode include:
- Toiling through the early days of the Internet in the 90s, the dot-com bubble of the 2000s, the Financial Collapse of 2008, and Covid.
- How BCorp certification has made Mightybytes a more resilient and commercially successful business
- Tim's project to create standardised guidelines for Accessible and Sustainable web development via the W3C community
- How Mightybytes jumped 68 BCorp points in one-go!
- The problems with using third party plugins for your website
... and much more!

Looking for some inspiration along your journey to be a better business? Then sit back and enjoy this episode from one of Digital Sustainability's earliest trailblazers!

About Tim Frick:
Tim Frick is the founder and President of Mightybytes, a digital agency and Certified B Corp located in Chicago. He is also a speaker, community organizer, and the author of four books, including, Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services, from O’Reilly Media.

Further Resources from the episode:
Tim on LinkedIn:
Tim on X: @timfrick

Music credit:

Creators & Guests

James Gill
CEO of GoSquared

What is The EcoSend Podcast?

Our journey into the world of being a truly climate conscious business. Join us as we talk to fellow entrepreneurs, founders, marketing folks, and campaigners to help us build our new product, EcoSend: the climate conscious email marketing tool.

Season 3 Episode 6

[00:00:00] Track 1: Hi there. Welcome to another episode of the EcoSend podcast. I'm your host, James Gill, and, I'm thrilled to be joined by an absolutely incredible guest today.

[00:01:03] He's called Tim, Tim Frick from Mighty Bytes. And Tim, well, where do I start? Tim is the founder and president of Mighty Bytes, which is a digital agency and a certified B Corp, one of the, one of the earliest B Corp that I'm aware of. They're located in Chicago. But Tim is not just the founder and president of a great agency.

[00:01:24] He's also a speaker, community organizer, and the author of not one, not two, not three, but four books, including the very book on digital sustainability, designing for sustainability, which is published by O'Reilly Media. Tim, I am so excited to have you on the show. Welcome. How are you doing today?

[00:01:42] Tim Frick: Thanks for having me, James. I really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to our conversation. I'm, I'm doing great.

[00:01:47] Track 1: Jolly good. I that's fantastic to hear. So, Tim how's things going at Mighty Bytes? Tell me more about Mighty Bytes. I, I know we've spoken a little bit, but for those who haven't come across Mighty Bytes before, they may be the first time hearing about it. What, what do you do at Mighty Bytes?

[00:02:02] Tim Frick: Sure. Mighty Bytes is a digital agency. We were started in 1998 and we help purpose-driven organizations find success using the internet. And that has meant different things. . Over the 25 years that we've been in business. But usually, you know, it's kind of helping clients find, long-term sustainable marketing ops. So we build websites, we help, you know, run marketing campaigns, measurement and analytics, you know, that kind of stuff. Common things that many, many digital agencies do. We have the advantage of having done them for many, many years, so we, I think we're pretty good at it. And for the past 10 we've really been folding sustainability principles into all of that. Like into, into the design, the development, the marketing, the content, all of that kind of stuff. and, and you know, I think that really is what differentiates us from a lot of agencies.

[00:02:51] Track 1: Absolutely. I, I guess before we go too much further, that I guess there's so many pathways we could take on today's show because I'm fascinated by, I mean, it's rare that I speak to another person that's been running a business for such a long time, since before the year 2000. Like that is an incredible achievement to be building a business that has such great values to be going through the B Corp process at such an early stage.

[00:03:17] You know I think . I mean, it's a great thing now that B Corp is relatively a well-known thing, but when you did it and have originally did it, I guess not many people knew about it.

[00:03:28] Tim Frick: We were the ninth B Corp in Illinois, so, so like we were number nine in Illinois and I think number 435 worldwide. So it was, it was, it was still, I mean it was four years into movement, still pretty early on for sure.

[00:03:40] Track 1: That is, that is very, very early in my eyes. I guess on today's show we could also, there's a whole load we could talk about around the sustainability guidelines as well, which I really wanna make sure we have time for. But I guess maybe, maybe to start with Tim, like your journey into sustainability and you know, clearly having these extremely well-defined values now.

[00:04:01] Where did that start and how did that come about? I, I take it you didn't just wake up one day and decide...

[00:04:07] Tim Frick: no, I didn't, in fact, I was actually on a completely different career track in filmmaking and, and news production and stuff like that. And, and then the internet happened and, and I seemed to really take to it really well. And also at the time, The Nineties were a mad dash for everyone to get on the internet and everybody was funding whatever silly idea they could possibly fund.

[00:04:29] And what I saw, Was that Lots of purpose-driven organizations, lots of nonprofits, social enterprises. We didn't really call them that at the time, but I mean, organizations that are really, truly trying to make a big difference in the world, were getting left behind in that. They weren't getting the funding, they didn't have the skills.

[00:04:45] They didn't, you know, and so I really started Mighty Bytes wanting to help them and help organizations like them get their skills up to speed and make sure that they could use, you know, the, I, I found the new medium of the internet very exciting. And so I wanted to make sure that, that you know, I could help organizations do the same and, and use it to drive success.

[00:05:04] And so that's really the kind of impetus be behind starting Mighty Bytes. It came out of the ashes of another agency where I had a business partner. But that process helped me kind of decide, you know, what the, what the true thing that I wanted to do was, and that was to help, you know, really good purpose-driven organizations. And of course in that past 25 years, that has changed a lot. We now have social enterprises, we have B Corps. So it wasn't just non-profits we're working with, we're working, you know, across the board and across sectors. But at the time, you know, it was still heady times for the internet and not a lot of it was really well-defined. And so it felt very much like wild, wild west pioneer days,

[00:05:43] Track 1: Absolutely

[00:05:44] Tim Frick: use a horribly colonial term.

[00:05:47] Track 1: Absolutely, though. I, but I think, I think these days, like we're in the year, what are we in 2023 . And it's like, it's Yeah. . It's so easy to just sort of take so much of the, the current state of the world for granted in terms of how big of a thing the web is today, how, how much of the scaffolding of infrastructure that exists and, but for you to be doing this in, in the late nineties is incredibly ahead of the like general consensus.

[00:06:17] I guess there was still probably a lot of fear around what does the internet mean, like uncertainty about whether it's even gonna be a big deal like

[00:06:25] Tim Frick: And there were all kinds of economic ups and downs. I mean, you know, the financial crisis of the tech bubble of the 2000s, financial crisis of 2008. You know, covid, we kind of, we've kind of done like this, you you know, feast and famine type thing. And so we've, we've learned and I think this is a really important skill for anybody who wants to be climate resilient is to, to embrace that idea of continuous improvement and resilience. And, and know, nothing is gonna go as planned. What did they say?

[00:06:54] Volatility, uncertainty? I can't remember. It was the acronym is 'Vuca'.

[00:06:59] mean, you know, nothing goes as planned. And so making sure that you're able to kind of be agile and roll with the punches and, and, you know, kind of be resilient in the face of adversity is, is. Really the only reason we're still here 25 years later.

[00:07:14] Honestly. The main, the main thing is like, all right, well, you know, this thing that we didn't expect was gonna happen has happened. And so how do we adjust or pivot or, or change approach based on that? And I, I will say, know, we became a certified B Corp in 2011, so that was a, you know, about 13, 14 years into the business.

[00:07:33] And, and we. That, you know, that was really probably one of the smartest moves that we could make in terms of, you know, company resilience. Just because it helped us get the governance structure in place. It helped us, know, figure out where we wanted to go with all of these kind of constantly changing you know, changing dynamics of business and, and we, you know, we wanted to make sure that we were staying true to our values. And so, you know, it really was a great roadmap for, for building a better business. And we've been using that, like I said, since 2011 to continually do that. And continuous improvement is really the name of the game. And that's also truthfully where all of the digital sustainability stuff came out of. Because through Corp certification for the first time and we're like, 'all right, well, you know, we, we thought we were a good, environmentally friendly like business'. We, we, and as I'm sure you're going through the assessment, you go through that B Corp thinking you're doing a lot of really great stuff, and then it opens up your eyes to all this other stuff to be potentially doing.

[00:08:33] And, and that was really a, a big eye-opener for me. And at the same time, reports were starting to come out about the environmental impact of the internet.

[00:08:42] And we were like, well, you know, we build websites for a living and we, you know, we, we work on the internet for a living and so what does that mean to us? You know, the B impact assessment at the time didn't have anything about like digital sustainability. There was nothing related to that. And so we really wanted to dig in and roll our sleeves up and figure out like, okay, 'I build the internet for a living, what is it that my business can do to do that better'.

[00:09:05] Track 1: Sure.

[00:09:06] Tim Frick: Be more sustainable about it, more equitable about it, more regenerative about the whole approach. And that kind of set us off on a journey that's been going on for, you know, more than 10 years now.

[00:09:16] Track 1: Yeah. And, and to put it lightly, it's not just a journey. It's like you've become one of the most vocal people for digital sustainability. Right. Like and you know, I know that as, as well as I mentioned, like you've had multiple books about, about the topic, but to be published with O'Reilly, that's a huge honor.

[00:09:35] Well, I, I mean, it puts you in a hall of fame, clearly you've not just ticked the boxes of B Corp to, to get to where you are. Like you've, you've held these values up very highly and and done a lot to encourage and inspire other people to follow those same, those same values.

[00:09:52] I

[00:09:52] Tim Frick: hope so. At least. And I'm pretty sure that that's, you know, B Lab, the organization that certifies B Corp, that's what they want people to do with this assessment. They want people to use it as a creativity tool as a productivity tool, as a tool to basically design what a better business looks like based on your unique situation and your unique needs.

[00:10:12] You know, and every business is different.

[00:10:14] Each has its, you know, different kind of stakeholders. And so you know, this is a tool to help you figure out what that means for you. And on top of it all, you can figure out what that means for you. But you also have this huge community around the globe of companies that have also faced similar challenges and are more than happy to say, 'Hey, I'll help. Here's what we learned from this process, or Here's what we learned from this process. Here's a template we use to do this thing' .

[00:10:38] And, and, that I think to me has been one of the most meaningful and exciting things about the B Corp movement, especially as it's grown, is that everybody's really open and caring and willing to help. And, and willing to share. It's been a very, very amazing experience from, from a collaboration perspective.

[00:10:56] Track 1: That's, I mean, that's, incredible to hear. Was there ever a point where you were not sure that B-Corp would, like going through the B-Corp process would help? Was there ever any questions in your mind that like, 'Oh gosh, this is a lot of, a lot of change. There's a lot of things to, to change in the business...

[00:11:12] Tim Frick: A few things. Yeah, absolutely. Right at the beginning, we finished the certification and we were like, now what? And I think, you know, that's a pretty common thing for any B Corp to go through. You go through this big slog of filling out all of this paperwork and documenting all these things, all your T's are crossed and i's dotted and, and then you're like, 'Okay well, now what?' And of course, B Lab wants you to start weaving that into your daily processes. But not every B Corp does that overnight.

[00:11:39] It took several years. And to be honest, a turnover of much of our staff, the company's values, my values and the team's values were not all aligned. And it took us a while to kind of figure out and get our sea legs and balance that out and also figure out. It was very easy to people get excited about this because they want to make a difference and they want to create impact and stuff like that. And so it's very easy for organizations to be like, 'yes, we're gonna do this and this and this, and this, and this.'

[00:12:07] And then completely overextend themselves. And, you know, we were definitely guilty of that. And, it's really about good governance. So at the end of the day, you know, making sure that you're using those guidelines to apply to your day-to-day business practices. Like I said, it took us, and I think it takes a lot of Bcorps a while to get their stride, to catch their stride on that.

[00:12:26] For us, the real pinnacle shift... I mean it's been a lot of ongoing, you know, continuous improvement as I said is the name of the game. So a lot of ongoing changes. But like the biggest thing for me at least more recently was when we certified for the fifth time in 2021, we really honed in on impact business models.

[00:12:45] It's not just about like, we make money over here and then we donate over here. I mean, a lot of companies do that. We're a 1% for the planet member. We do that too. However, you know, true impact is really about like, how can we actually You know, run our business and create impact at the same time.

[00:13:02] Business is creating the best positive social and environmental impact It can. And the secret for that is for us at least, is an impact business model. So part of that certification we created an impact business model for accessibility. So that basically we're accessible by default. Every project that we take on, you know, we prioritize digital accessibility so that people with disabilities don't run into barriers when they're accessing content. So we, we, we created a business model around that. So if you hire Mighty Bytes, you're guaranteed to get a level of accessibility with every project that we run.

[00:13:34] We also did a similar thing for sustainability where, you know, we just decided we needed to be green by default. So you get you get efficient code, you get all of the trappings that come with sustainable web design.

[00:13:45] And, and then the third one was education. We do a lot of, of blogging, a lot of books, obviously a lot of educational components to our business.

[00:13:55] We give a ton of workshops, and so we wanted to make sure that those workshops were aligned with our values as a B Corp. And we just created a impact business model around that. And there's certain steps that you need to go through in order to do that, and certain documentation you need to provide. However, it's been really helpful for the business. And also I, I can't deny we jumped 68 points in our B Corp certification that time by, by adopting all of those things, we actually made a huge jump in our, in our certification points, which was, you know, that doesn't hurt, that's for sure.

[00:14:27] Track 1: Absolutely. I, I mean, you've made it almost seem easy that you said just there. But I, I think it's so interesting hearing you talk about it though, Tim, because I think similar of these aspects, like I, I know from like you know, working with other people, working in the world of the web and building web products, sometimes it's so easy to not do the accessible stuff or to not care about the sustainability side. You know, we've got priorities, we've gotta make more money than we spend, and we've gotta get this project done. And those things are so often the things that get pushed aside, and I guess to put them at like, kind of to document them and, and make them part of your ethos.

[00:15:10] It, it's just such a almost like a, like a hack to to ensure that they happen. And I I love that!

[00:15:17] Tim Frick: I would say tech companies and the internet at large is very good at externalizing impact, like, making sure that you don't see... you know, we add plugins to our websites you know, we do all these things. Accessibility should be a thing that's done by default.

[00:15:34] It should be turned on and implemented in processes for everybody who builds or owns or manages a website. But it's not, and it's externalized. I can't remember the name, which company it was, but they did a study on accessibility this year and basically found that 96% of the pages that they tested during the study would fail Simple accessibility challenges.

[00:15:56] Track 1: Wow. Wow.

[00:15:57] Tim Frick: So, you know, if you think about that as a, basically a, a part of the web or, you know, a, a I can't remember the word I'm used looking for is escaping, but it's a sample of the web overall, and 96% of of organizations are failing that, you know, then, I mean, there's... the only way is up, honestly.

[00:16:16] I mean...

[00:16:16] Track 1: yeah. I hope so.

[00:16:18] Tim Frick: Yeah It's just, it's, I mean, it's horrible and you know, most organizations many of the clients that we run across and many people we run across, even in purpose-driven organizations, other B Corp nonprofits, et cetera, are just completely unaware of it.

[00:16:33] Or they'll look at something like accessibility, and I hate to call out a company by name, but like there are these, you know, layover tools that are cheap and easy and you throw them on your website and, and 'instant accessibility', and that's not actually the case. I mean, there's a lot of challenges with those kinds of tools. And so, you know, it shouldn't be an add-on. It should be built into the processes you have. We're hoping with these guidelines especially that, that we're gonna talk about in a bit, that we do the same for accessibility. That, that there, excuse me, sustainability, that becomes default. It is just how people build websites. Accessibility is just how people design websites.

[00:17:11] Track 1: Absolutely. And I, I was gonna say it, it sort of shows the, the how the priorities, I guess of a lot of businesses on the web have changed over the years. Because if you look at , The standards or like HTML as, as a standard not to get, I don't know are many listeners who may be worried this is getting too code, but like, you know, you look at HTML, if you just build a website in HTML, it is by itself, by inherently, like everything should be accessible from there.

[00:17:39] But it's, it's now that we got to this point where there's, you know, often you build a website, you're so far removed from...

[00:17:46] Tim Frick: for sure.

[00:17:46] Track 1: ...original, like actual source code, HTML and those standards that have been carefully thought about.

[00:17:52] Tim Frick: We layer on all these third party services, every single one of those third party services has an impact. And you know, it's hard for you to say, are their priorities the same as mine? It's easy to add a plug into WordPress, but if that WordPress plugin isn't accessible, it isn't, you know, it doesn't care about sustainability.

[00:18:11] If it doesn't care about some of these issues you know, you're gonna run into a, a number of problems. Most people, because that's externalized and not part of the stuff that's in front of them right away, don't even think that that should be, you know, their organization's sustainability efforts, for instance.

[00:18:28] And, and again, that was exactly why we created these web sustainability guidelines through the W3C, because we wanted to make sure that, you know, Digital sustainability was aligned with reporting standards. Right now you've got sustainability professionals who aren't doing digital.

[00:18:43] You've got digital professionals who aren't doing sustainability, and there's this huge gap between them. And so digital sustainability isn't often included sustainability reporting.

[00:18:53] Digital products and services usually are, are, are not included, or, or if they are, You know, it's only one small component of it.

[00:19:00] And so the guidelines that we created with the W3C were meant to specifically address that.

[00:19:05] Track 1: Yeah, so I, I guess you know, many, many people listening to this might be in the world of, of maybe responsible for websites, maybe responsible for email marketing. They, there, many marketers listen to the EcoSend podcast and I guess a lot of the things you read all the time are about increasing conversion rates and making a higher performing website for, you know, how to make sure people don't bounce off the page.

[00:19:30] But I guess a lot of people are not necessarily web developers and don't necessarily think about the, the lower level stuff. So maybe just from your words, Tim, like digital sustainability itself. We've been talking about it a bit, but like it's, I guess there's some relationship to . Accessibility as well, but like, what is the digital sustainability in, in your, in your eyes.

[00:19:51] Tim Frick: Sure. Yeah. Maybe I should have defined that upfront.

[00:19:53] Track 1: No, no, no. Don't worry.

[00:19:54] Tim Frick: We define it as applying social and environmental and economic stewardship practices to the process of digital product services and data delivered via the internet. A common definition, I believe Whole Grain Digital uses something similar. I know you've had Tom on,

[00:20:10] Track 1: Yeah. Yeah, we, we love Whole Grain. They're wonderful. Yeah.

[00:20:13] Tim Frick: Yeah. Likewise. But you know, essentially it's, it's applying sustainability principles to your digital products and services. So that your marketing, that includes your website, that includes third party services you use. So lots of marketers use SEMrush and they use Moz and they use all of these third party. Third party tools and, and you're actually responsible for the data that you create and manage on, on those platforms, and you're responsible for the impact. So things like accessibility, data privacy, sustainability in terms of, of actual emissions impact and stuff like that. You know, are actually responsible for that.

[00:20:48] Sure.

[00:20:48] It's Moz's responsibility or Semrush's responsibility to host their servers powered by renewable energy and, and make sure that their products are as, as accessible as possible, but the users of those products, you know, also have a responsibility there as well because you are creating, you are creating impact with that, that stuff.

[00:21:06] And so as we definitely use a lot of those products and, and don't really even think about the data we create. And, and the sad thing is that of all the data marketers collect usually goes or un, know, and so what's happening is we've got these thousands of, of data centers around the world they're just filling up with data and, and, and, and the answer, you know, the, the company's answer is not necessarily to tell people to go in and clean up their data, it's to build another data center. you've basically, we're building virtual landfills so that we can house marketing data, and that's know. I, I mean, that doesn't sit right with me.

[00:21:45] You know, could actually go a long way into helping you, you know, even if an organization creates like a disposal strategy and, and says, you know what?

[00:21:54] 'We're gonna go through once a quarter and we're gonna clean out our marketing data and get rid of the stuff that we don't use, that we don't care about. We're gonna, you know, we're gonna focus on quantity, or, excuse me, quality over quantity'. You know, that would go a long way. To, to just, you know, helping marketers be more, you know, positive in the impact that they create.

[00:22:15] Track 1: It is such a, a v vivid sort of image there that, that we're, we're putting trucking data into landfills essentially. It's but, you know, arguably even more impactful than a landfill because it's needing active electricity cooling, all of these things. And it's also so interesting that like, you know, the idea of sort of cleaning up data and not storing so much. It, it's, it's also something that goes hand in hand with some of the other good practices you already spoke about with regards to privacy and, and like, you know, there's an environmental side, but there's a sort of the, the social side, the responsibility side, the moral side maybe like that, that, you know, we, for so long, I guess on the web businesses were like, let's just hoard all the data and and it'll have some value someday if we can mine it. And, and now it's like, actually, I think hopefully starting to swing back in a different direction.

[00:23:13] Tim Frick: Yeah, I, I would like to think so. I, I'd like to think that, you know, ethics and responsibility are gonna, you know, end up playing a bigger role as we move forward on all of this. And then think at the end of the day, it really is gonna come down to legislation, which is again, another reason why we worked on the, the web sustainability guidelines. You know, climate change is going to gonna literally shift everything about business, everything, every business is gonna need to be more resilient. Every business is gonna need to start reporting their emissions and their impact and all kinds of things in their businesses that they're not doing right now.

[00:23:46] I say businesses, I also mean nonprofits, government sector, et cetera, organizations overall. Why not get ahead of the curve and start reporting on that stuff already? Why not roll your sleeves up and do work now so that when it comes down to the point of, you know, the mandatory disclosure legislation, which you know, has already been introduced in the United States.

[00:24:06] And, and I'm sure I mean, multiple places across Europe that that is not a huge hurdle for your organization. Like, you know, we have client organizations who look at that and they're like completely gobsmacked over like, what it, what is it that I can even do

[00:24:20] this stuff? So, I mean, my take is you might as well start small. Identify where you're at right now. Look at the low hanging fruit and start to kind of make some process and progress against this stuff, because at the end of the day, it's gonna, it's gonna happen anyway.

[00:24:36] Tomorrow or 10 years from... I hope it's not 10 years from now, because the climate crisis really can't wait.

[00:24:41] Track 1: Yeah. We, we need to be doing everything we can today, don't we? Yeah. I guess in terms of today or maybe tomorrow, there are some guidelines coming to the web, Tim, and you've been... but I know you've been working very hard on these and I, I dunno, maybe just zooming out again, just, just to clarify because I think I'm pretty geeky, but I didn't realize like necessarily at the depth that the web and everything we use like is built on technologies that are basically standards that are, whether you're a website builder or a maker of tools for the web or maker of browsers, there are standards that people agree on and these are put together by very hardworking people, often voluntarily, . And you are one of these people, right, Tim? And and you've been working on some standards with some other very smart people.

[00:25:30] Tim Frick: Yeah. And I should clarify, they're, they're just guidelines, currently, not standards, and in their first draft, so I'll, I'll, I'll go back a little bit and, and you know, as I mentioned earlier, know, we went on this journey of, of figuring out what digital sustainability meant for us as a B Corp. And we, you know, we're trying to figure out how to essentially shift what we do as well as the industry that we're in, you know, for the better. We realized really early on that we needed educational education and awareness around this stuff. Mighty Bytes created a tool called Eco Grader that that helps people understand the environmental impact of their websites and stuff like that. However, not, that's not nearly enough. Yeah, I,

[00:26:11] I mean, we're, we're, we're biased.

[00:26:12] Track 1: We, we'll definitely link to that in the, in the notes. 'cause it's a very interesting tool to try out. Yeah.

[00:26:18] Tim Frick: It's, it's but, but you know, the guidelines are really where, where you know, change is gonna happen because, you know, we, the education and awareness still is, is hugely needed. And to understand the need guidelines for this kind of stuff. And so I started the, the sustainable web design community group at the Worldwide Web Consortium. So the W3C, the Worldwide Web Consortium is the, you know, has basically been the kind of go-to standard for digital accessibility for, you know, 20 plus years now. and, and so we thought, well, a community group within The W3C, getting people to talk about this stuff could be a good first step towards helping people understand it on a much more broader level and then moving towards standards.

[00:27:06] Track 1: Yeah.

[00:27:08] Tim Frick: And so we started that in 2013 and it kind of just sat there and people trickled in and shared some resources and trickled back out again. And then the global pandemic happened and everybody went online and everybody... working in front of their computers every day, all day,

[00:27:23] Awareness around the environmental impact of the internet started to really grow. and so did our group. And so we were starting to get all kinds of different people joining the group, researchers, designers, developers, business leaders, you know, all these people were joining the group.

[00:27:39] And, and everybody's kind of agreeing that there should be a set of standards or, or recommendations that people can follow to go through this. And so once we finally got enough people in the group were like, well, let's, let's start meeting and talking about this and figuring out what we can do.

[00:27:54] So for the past two years we've been having an open meeting the last Wednesday of every month with the idea of, of creating these guidelines and, and putting them out in the world to, to help people better understand digital sustainability and what it means for their organization. guidelines itself, that ones that we're, we're actually officially launching tomorrow.

[00:28:14] We're recording this September 12th, so on the 13th. We're, we're, we're launching that. And, and it's in, they're in 93 guidelines. 250 pages worth of guidelines

[00:28:24] Track 1: Wow. Wow.

[00:28:25] Tim Frick: Four different categories with a fifth kind of spread across all of them. So the categories are user experience, design, business and product strategy, hosting and infrastructure. And wow, I'm just totally braining on the, oh,

[00:28:39] Track 1: I'm not test, I . I'm not testing it. Tim

[00:28:43] Tim Frick: Yeah. No, no, no. I know it is like you'd think I wouldn't, this would be like the back of my hand by this point. And, and, you know, web development is, was one of the first ones done. It's one of the most robust set of guidelines, so you'd think I would've thought of that first. But anyway, regardless, there were about 50 of us that collaborated on these on a, on a pretty regular basis. Each committee had chairs, and those chairs were responsible for basically inviting collaborators. Inviting industry experts to, you know, collaborate on essentially what at the time was a set of Google Docs and basically put information. And we had a structure that we used for all of the guidelines.

[00:29:19] So every guideline has, you know, cited resources and benefits and, you know, essentially impact and effort ratings and, and all the things that you could need to say, here's how I might implement this within my own organization.

[00:29:32] Track 1: It's amazing.

[00:29:33] Tim Frick: We pulled all of those together the past couple years and, put them in W3C's guidelines format. And finished that last week. And right now W3C is having their annual global conference in Seville. And so a couple of us are gonna be joining virtually and then one of our committee chairs is actually gonna present in person there.

[00:29:51] Track 1: That's incredible. So I guess it's, it's so valuable though because it's a resource that anyone can use and. You know, unlike maybe someone writing even a very educational resource on a blog, like there's agreement, there's been discussion, there's been debate, and it's on a site. The site is not trying to do any lead capture or drive you down a funnel.

[00:30:16] It's like this is an educational resource, been kind of reviewed and worked on for literally like a decade, right? that

[00:30:24] Tim Frick: Yeah. we have definitely been sharing resources for, for a decade now.

[00:30:28] The, hardcore work really has been over the last year and a half or so.

[00:30:32] We've been really, you know, pulling together everything and getting it into a format that works. That being said the format it's in right now is kind of a dry document format.

[00:30:41] We do intend to migrate them over to,

[00:30:45] So

[00:30:45] Track 1: they

[00:30:46] Tim Frick: can be indexed and searchable and tagged

[00:30:49] And so people can basically work their own way through the journey, whether that's if they're your user experience designer or a business leader, you can chart your own course through figuring out what those are.

[00:30:59] So we're working on that right now, since the first draft of the guidelines are done,

[00:31:04] Track 1: Well, thank you Tim, and all of the people that be working on that. That is very, very very cool and looking forward to seeing it, it launch and we'll make sure that's linked to in the, in the notes. Yeah. Tim, I, the time has flown by, but I know we always like to talk. One, one last thing on the future.

[00:31:21] I, I didn't know if you wanted to touch on any, any sort of thoughts you had on the future. I'm not asking you to predict the future and put place money on it , but but did you have any thoughts on, on how things are gonna evolve over the coming years? Either maybe on the web, especially with digital sustainability?

[00:31:36] Tim Frick: I, yeah, I wanna be hopeful.

[00:31:38] Track 1: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:31:39] Tim Frick: I wanna recapture the excitement that I felt in the nineties when the web was brewing and taking off and, and you know, everyone's was so excited about what the promise of what it could bring to society, the barriers. It could break down all of that stuff. And I'm not gonna lie, over the last decade, you know, I got, felt kind of skeezy. I'm like, this is kind of, you know, this is not going in the right direction. This is not good.

[00:32:02] Track 1: Yeah.

[00:32:03] Yeah,

[00:32:03] Tim Frick: The list of things and problems that we've seen, especially over the last decade is very, very long. So, you know, I wanna be, I wanna be hopeful in that things like these guidelines and the, and the congregation of people around ethics and responsibility, privacy, accessibility, all these things. I wanna believe that people are gonna join the cause and more people are going to essentially apply what I like to think of as B Corp values to, you know, the internet overall.

[00:32:33] Track 1: Yeah, absolutely. I, I think that's a fantastic note to, to be wrapping up the show on Tim and I, I think I, I hope I speak for a lot of people and saying thank you for putting in so much hard work and, and setting such an incredible example. Like it's honestly inspired us with the work we're doing on EcoSend.

[00:32:52] And I know we, we follow your blog a lot for lots of inspiration and tips and, and how to very practically make changes. And

[00:33:00] Tim Frick: Thank you so much, I really appreciate that.

[00:33:01] Track 1: It's no. Yeah. Thank you. And thank you for, for giving us a wonderful episode. I'm sure there are many people listening or watching that would love to hear more.

[00:33:10] So I guess is the, the site for both the agency and also the blog is on there too. But also if people wanna speak to you, Tim, you're on LinkedIn, right? And we'll link that in the show notes.

[00:33:22] Tim Frick: Easiest way to find me there. You can just Google me too!

[00:33:26] Track 1: Oh yeah. Could do that!

[00:33:28] Tim Frick: Turns out!

[00:33:29] Track 1: Yeah, that's a good idea. Tim, thank you so much. It's been an absolute pleasure!

[00:33:35] Tim Frick: Thank you for having me, James!

[00:33:37] Track 1: Cheers, Tim. And thank you to everyone for listening, all watching. If you've enjoyed the show today, please do let us know either by dropping us a comment or leaving a review. It really helps us spread the word about wonderful people like Tim. And we hope to see you again soon, so catch you next time. Cheers!

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