We’ve seen some really crazy stats over the last couple of years which state things like:
“Internet usage releases the same level of greenhouse gases as all of the world’s air traffic”.1
“If the internet was a country, it would be the world’s 6th biggest polluter”2
“The internet releases around 300m tonnes of CO2 – as much as all the coal, oil and gas burned in Turkey or Poland in one year.”3
Therefore, web developers and agencies have a clear part to play in all of this. The internet is not going to go away and websites will continue to be built, but we can all learn how to build them in a much more sustainable way.
What is sustainable website design?
Sustainable web design aims to lower the amount of carbon emitted from a website and the amount of energy needed to access that website. By making a website require fewer resources to load, then this will reduce the amount of energy needed to power the internet.
Sustainable web design is part of a company’s CSR (corporate and social responsibility) and ESG goals (environmental, social and governance), which have had a light shone on them recently and so many businesses are concentrating on how to produce greener websites.
There are several areas that companies need to look at when it comes to sustainable website design and these include:
– Design – UI/UX
– Development – how it’s built
– Hosting – where you house the website
– Content – what you put on the website
You should also look at business operations, project management and how you market the website.
What are the benefits of sustainable website design?
Other than having a positive impact on the environment, there are plenty of other benefits to sustainable website design too.
Sustainable web design practices all involve making a website much lighter, which means that the website will run a lot faster. This is fantastic for user experience as customers expect websites to load instantly and often will leave a slow website to go to a competitor’s faster website.
Faster websites also are favoured by Google’s algorithm, so they will rise up Google’s search rankings and do better when it comes to SEO.
On top of this, you can often save a lot of money on website hosting costs because a hosting company often charges you based on the bandwidth you use. So, a lighter website means less space used on their servers and therefore, lower costs.
So, a website optimised by sustainable web design practices means that not only will you save money, your business can start to increase more customers, earn more money, all while helping the environment!
How do I make my website more sustainable?
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make sure your site is sustainable.
First and foremost, make sure that it’s mobile-friendly. This is important because over 50% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. If people can’t access your website on their phones or tablets, they will likely find another company who has a better experience for them.
You should also try to remove any unnecessary plugins or scripts from your site — these will slow down load time and strain the computer resources needed to run your website. Additionally, try using a content delivery network (CDN) instead of hosting all of your files on one server: this will help prevent bottlenecks throughout the day as more people use the site simultaneously; load times are faster for everyone!
If you’re interested in learning more specifically about sustainable website design practices, then we have written a more detailed and technical article on this that may be of interest.
What is green hosting?
You may have heard many people saying that “you must use green hosting for your website”, but you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
Green hosting is the practice of using a web host that runs its data centres on clean energy. This means that the company uses renewable energy sources—solar, wind, and water power—to power their server farms and cooling systems.
Green hosting providers will often offer carbon offsets as part of their service, meaning they’ll offset the carbon emissions caused by running their servers by paying another company to purchase carbon credits from them (or they’ll invest in projects that help reduce emissions).
We highly recommend Krystal Hosting as they’re currently the UK’s leading green hosting website providers and have specialist WordPress hosting options too.
How you can start building greener websites
Start by signing the Sustainable Web Manifesto created by Wholegrain Digital, a WordPress Agency who have been doing more than their bit to help the environment for years. They are also the same people who have created the Website Carbon Calculator and literally wrote the book on Sustainable Web Design.
Educate yourself on sustainable web design practices and start bit by bit. If you have already got a website and you’re worried that it’s been built badly, then don’t worry – there are ways that you can improve your website without having to start from scratch.
However, if you want to give your website another go, then it’s a very cool project as you get to completely rethink about your whole user journey with sustainability in mind. Read about how we’re doing this with our own website!
We hope that this article has helped you understand how to use your website as a tool for good, and given you some ideas on how to make it even better. We encourage everyone who wants to go green and make the world a better place through the internet to read up on sustainable web design practices so that they can do their part in making the web a greener place for all!