When we talk about sustainability and climate change we don’t often discuss the effect that the world wide web is having on our planet.
The internet consumes a large amount of electricity at 416.2TWh per year (Website Carbon Calculator), that is more than the entire UK. The average website tested on the ‘Carbon Calculator’ produces 1.76 grams of CO2 per page view, if a site of that size had 10,000 monthly page views it would produce 211kg of CO2 per year (Website Carbon Calculator).
You might think that creating a sustainable website would be a time consuming and frustrating process, but it is quite the opposite, a sustainable site is often quicker to create and provides a user with a great, efficient experience. So why not kill two birds with one stone and create a site that is both sustainable and user friendly.
THE CLIENT'S NEEDS
We were asked by our client to create a sustainable news website that remained clear of energy consuming media such as adverts or videos. It also needed to use energy efficient hosting and UX design best practices, it was crucial that the site was as ‘green’ as possible.
HOW WE ACHIEVED IT
There are several ways that a site can be made sustainable but for this project we focused on 4 key aspects, hosting, plugins, optimisation & visuals.
Hosting is a key factor when it comes to creating a sustainable website. Website hosts use data centers which represent a large portion of the overall internet energy. We made sure that we selected a green host, it is an easy way to make a more environmentally friendly website.
Plugins are an important aspect of a website and can often improve user experience, they do however also make a website larger and less sustainable. When using Plugins it is important to consider which Plugins are necessary and try to limit the number used. For this project we had to weigh up the clients needs and sustainability and ensure that we used the number of plugins that were absolutely necessary but no more than that.
With a never ending number of screen sizes we need to ensure that websites work seamlessly across all devices. When a website doesn’t work correctly on a user’s device it leads to them becoming frustrated. This results in them wasting time and energy trying to navigate the site, which in turn increases the CO2 produced. By creating a site that is optimised we can ensure that we are providing our clients users with the best possible user experience.
Visuals are a crucial aspect of web design, without them a site would be very difficult to interact with. You can still create an aesthetically pleasing site and be sustainable. By compressing and using images strategically, using SVGs and being selective over fonts, you can instantly make a site more sustainable. All of the above factors contribute to a site’s weight, by making a site smaller you create a website that is faster loading and more efficient.
The average UK news site produces 1.734g of CO2 per page view.
The sustainable news site produces 54% less CO2 than the average UK news site.
Only 0.79g of CO2 is produced every time someone visits the website.
By following those 4 key aspects we were able to create a site for our client that is environmentally friendly.
If every website followed these steps we could greatly reduce the amount of carbon the web produces and in turn we would be helping our environment and help to stop climate change.
We’ve shown how it can be done and we hope that others will do the same. The planet sure does deserve it.