Humans.txt – Placing Credit Where Credit is Due
The presence of a humans.txt file on a website you like means you might also like working the people who made it

Like most professionals, we try to do our best work for every project we undertake. It’s not just good business, it delivers a sense of pride and satisfaction too. Making websites for clients puts our work on display to the world and it sure feels good to be recognized. Here is the rationale for choosing Humans.txt to leave our mark on projects at Able Sense.

In our industry, taking credit for web design/development work can take many forms:

  1. Online Portfolio
  2. Awards Submissions (maybe even wins)
  3. LinkedIn project summaries
  4. Blog posts
  5. Resumes
  6. Case Studies
  7. Proposals that include relevant past work
  8. Links to the agency website in the footer of client websites
  9. Humans.txt files in the document root of client websites

Any and all of these forms of taking/accepting credit for our work as web designers, content experts, and developers seem to be generally accepted as appropriate. I’m opposed to #8.

The client website is not our agency’s billboard

The “Site by: [Link to agency]” badges at the bottom of client websites just don’t seem appropriate to me. It would be better to give our client’s a t-shirt with our logo – at least they could decide on which days to wear it.

The people at Able Sense who did the work to make a website (along with any collaborators) comprise one set of metadata about that particular website. Metadata, not content. Our company name, logo, and website address have no place in the visual rendering of any client’s website.

There is an oft-asked question paraphrased as, “What about the Google PageRank ‘votes’ that you are leaving on the table?”. This comes from misguided thinking. These are the wrong type of incoming links for our agency website. Google advises that we should all strive for incoming relevant links . Since the topic of our client websites will probably never be “Who is the best digital agency to work with?”, a link from the footer of every page hardly seems to fit. Instead, we try submitting our best work to award websites, and getting earned media coverage in the markets we service. These kind of links come from a relevant context.

But we made the client’s website. Where do we put our mark?

At Able Sense, we use Humans.txt to take credit for our hard work on websites. It’s easy, as extensive as we need for any project, works on every website, doesn’t mess up the code or design, and has no impact on a website’s performance.

All anybody has to do is add “/humans.txt” to the URL of one of our websites, and voila, credit where credit is due.

Over at http://humanstxt.org/ they explain good reason to use this approach for taking credit for our work:

What is humans.txt? It’s an initiative for knowing the people behind a website. It’s a TXT file that contains information about the different people who have contributed to building the website.

There’s a lot more to it than that, you should really go take a look. I’ll wait here for you.

http://humanstxt.org/

Looks pretty good right? I would add that the use of Humans.txt is a nice indicator that the makers of a website pay attention to modern standards and details.

My one exception for footer links

You knew this was coming, right? When we make a website or product at Able Sense that we own and operate we link back to https://ablesense.com in the footer.

There is a branding purpose to this use case, and it’s reasonable to think customers want to know who’s behind the product they are buying.

How will anybody know to look for humans.txt?

This is a challenge. For those of us that make websites for a living, humans.txt is still a fairly new tool. It’s probably completely unheard-of among the general public. My plan is to just keep telling people about it. I’m going to go further and suggest the presence of a humans.txt file on a website you like means you might also like working the people who made it. Look for /humans.txt on great websites everywhere.