Environmental engagement has been on the rise in the last few years, with sustainable products, government initiatives and global strikes trending across the world. There’s no denying, however, that we still have a long way to go.
With so much attention being drawn to the impact the business world has on the environment, have we stopped to consider how the internet and web design, too, have an effect? Slowly but surely, the awareness surrounding sustainable web design is beginning to make its mark within the eco-friendly community.
So, what is it and how can it contribute to making a greener virtual world?
There is often a misconception that because the internet is not generating any physical waste and can act as a ‘reusable’ source, it equates to being sustainable. This, however, is not entirely true. While the internet can provide a sustainable alternative and an avenue for spreading environmental messages, it is also leaving a sizeable donation in our carbon footprint.
Studies have shown that a simple web page can generate 20 milligrams of carbon dioxide per second, while watching a movie can produce almost 3kg. Individually this may not seem like a lot, however, when considering it on a global level, this is a scary statistic. Particularly with everything online nowadays, it makes you wonder what the best alternative actually is.
This is not to say that the internet is entirely non-eco-friendly, of course. But like many developments within society that have environmental ramifications, the goal is to find ways it can be improved and refined.
Take transport for example: while cars are a huge contributor to carbon emissions, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to stop using them at once. As such, we have become more innovative and creative to work around the problem; enter electric cars.
In the case of the internet, we see the rise of sustainable web design.
Sustainable web design is a very achievable goal. And when you boil it down, it focuses heavily on elements that are incredibly beneficial to your website’s health and success, such as optimisation, efficiency and accessibility. As a result, sustainability and web design are actually two very compatible concepts.
I think people often believe that being eco-friendly has to come at a detrimental cost to the norm as it narrows the playing field. However, rather than limiting options, sustainability can actually present more creative avenues for people to explore. In this way, the same can be said for how sustainable web design can be developed.
Consider the dark mode feature for instance. While helping to minimise the energy output made by online platforms, it has since become an incredibly popular feature for designers and consumers.
You may find that once you take a deeper look into sustainable web design, that many of its features speak to you as both an environmentalist and as a business owner.
So, How Can You Implement Sustainable Web Design?
Green Web Hosts
This is the most significant one.
Green web hosts are essentially platforms that are powered by renewable energy. Websites are run on a continual basis and thus require a lot of energy to maintain. If you are able employ a Green web host, this will go a long way in ensuring your website is environmentally friendly and lowering its carbon footprint.
Optimise Web Speeds
Speed Optimisation is not only important to leading your website to a sustainable future but is also vital to your website’s health and success. Delivering a fast website experience allows you to build trust with your audience, keep them engaged with your content, and provide greater clarity on your business’s goals and services.
Google is also more likely to rank a fast website higher than a slow one.
There are many elements that contribute to your website’s speed, including the host you choose, the efficiency of your coding, your content’s optimisation, as well as the cleanliness of your data base. Speed optimisation is ultimately a win win in the fight for a green future and making sure your website is performing to the best of its ability.
User Experience Strategy
Sustainable web design relies on your website being user friendly. Enabling a viewer to easily navigate your website will not only increase your audience engagement, but will also help in minimising the energy needed to generate it.
This can be achieved through a number of different design strategies, including the layout of the website, how interactive it is, the quality of the content displayed, and making sure that your website is healthy and free of broken links. Focusing on mobile-first web design can also help you with this, as it’s important to make sure your website is accessible for other devices.
By employing this strategy, you will be able to rest easy knowing that your website is having a positive contribution to the environment, while also succeeding in its own popularity.
Search Engine Optimisation, like web speeds and user experience, is paramount to your website’s success. When done correctly, SEO can aid in ranking your website higher by search engines. This can be achieved through a number of different ways, including targeting keywords and meta descriptions, web speed optimisation, frequent updating, as well as utilising inbound and outbound links.
So, how does this apply to sustainable web design? Well, essentially SEO equates to findability; the easier a page is to find, the less loading time it requires for a user. The more SEO optimised your website is, the more sustainable it will be!
Change and progress often stem directly from awareness and education. If there are small changes that we as businesses can be adapting to better the environment, and by extension our own websites, why shouldn’t we start employing them today? Looking forward, I think sustainable web design will be a significant step to making a green online ecosystem our future.
If you have any questions about sustainable web design, don’t be afraid to get in contact with our team.