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Ethical Digital Studio

Is this thing on? We’ve formed a new wee business, and here it is: Ethical Digital Studio. Which bears some explanation – those are three words that can contain a ton of different meanings, both for the speaker and the listener. I want to use this post to help explain what they mean to us and how they will inform the approach to this new venture.

First off, a little background. My name is David Horn and for about 15 years I was a freelance web developer and designer, providing a full service solution to small businesses, covering most things digital. I focused on design & development, but inevitably – given my market, it encompassed a range of expertise: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), digital marketing – email, pay per click, some content marketing … basically, all the things that a small / micro business owner needs to get a handle on in order to grow their business.

And that’s what I did: helped people grow their businesses. Most of it started through a web design & development project – but what they came for was always the same: business growth.

David Horn - ethical digital, web design & development

Fifteen years of that, and a lot of experience and expertise gathered. The time was right to expand, so I started the imaginatively named David Horn Design Ltd. We became a small team – Karen in project management, Eugene in development, and me in design. We grew – took on Alex, another developer. And it was nice.

But it wasn’t great. The work was good, the team was good, but there was something missing. Turns out, that ‘something’ was: purpose. We were doing good work for interesting clients but we weren’t approaching projects with a consistent set of values. We set about changing that – starting with: what’s important to us?

Turns out, a lot of things were important. Family was important. We wanted team members to be able to prioritise family commitments whenever they needed to. Same with mental health. I don’t know anyone who cannot relate to mental health struggles – and we prioritise mental health in our workplace, and our practices.

How we approached projects was important. We wanted the sites we built to be sustainable – we wanted to offset the carbon they generated, we wanted to use hosting companies that supported our values, and we wanted to educate clients on privacy respecting, minimally intrusive practices – and we wanted to walk that walk ourselves.

Then we wanted to work with clients who shared similar values. For us that means we typically work with smaller businesses – normally between 5 and 50 employees, normally the turn over is under a couple of million pounds. The business is usually founder led – having someone we can talk to with the direct financial stake in the work we do for them, that’s important.

We wanted a plan for growth that supported those values. So we aim to open up employment opportunities for people who might not otherwise get them, or who might otherwise struggle to flourish in a typical 9-5 office based career.

A Vision & A Mission

So a vision and a mission started to take shape. Our vision that, over time we will have leveraged our experience and expertise by doing great work for good. We will have provided a sustainable, nurturing workplace where client & team member wellbeing and success are joint and equal priorities.

Having a vision

This means we won’t put the success of our business & team members over the success of our clients, and vice versa. Our business & team members will flourish by working on the success of our clients.

And our mission … our mission is to enable a digital transformation for businesses with a purpose beyond profit, and to support them as they grow their offering and their market.

Ethical Digital Studio

Which brings us back to what the words ethical, digital, and studio mean to us.

Ethical – we want the work we do to be founded on certain moral principles. We won’t use unethical practices to promote our services – to quote The Ethical Move ‘we put the person before the sale, we communicate inclusively, truthfully, and clearly. We take responsibility for our part in changing the market place’.

But then, there’s a balance to be struck. We want to look at the whole picture – how are we, how are our clients, impacting society. Is their positive impact so great it offsets something negative? Maybe. It’s a balance.

Ethical digital is, for us, work that prioritises the wellbeing of users, team members, and considers the social and environmental impact of its processes and outputs.

We want to work with companies who share our goals. Who want to impact society positively, who want to be adding much, much more than they are taking. Companies that are giving back – as a charity, as a non-profit, or as a simple commercial enterprise with strong values & practices.

Digital – all of the work we do focuses on the digital part of a clients business. That can include IT audits (through our trusted partners), website audits, design, development, customer relationship management systems, marketing automation … a full digital transformation. Most projects will have a website component – often starting with a full audit, and involving a redevelopment of their current online offering.

And studio – we’re a small studio. We won’t ever become a ‘big’ agency – we do not have that level of economic ambition, but we do have the capacity for massive social ambition. Our team – currently 4 of us – can have huge impact through doing the great work for good … working on great projects for fascinating businesses.

And we’re just getting started. If you’d like to hear how we might be able to help you – give us a call on 028 66 44 80 90