Is your website sustainable?
Internet use costs in CO2.
Our daily lives are heavily influenced by digitalisation, but most people probably do not consider the impact their internet use has on the climate. The virtual and the environment may even seem like two very different things. But every online activity has a cost in CO2 emissions. For example, just think of the electricity you use to charge or connect your hardware such as mobile phones, tablets, computers, and internet routers. Then there are the vast amounts of energy needed to keep data centres and huge internet servers running. Small activities like a single internet search are not particularly energy-intensive on their own, but together they can add up to large amounts of energy and associated greenhouse gasses – especially when around 53% of the world’s population (or about 4.1 trillion people) currently use the internet.
Incorporate sustainability into your website.
There are several areas where you can make small but significant changes. In addition to the choice of web hosting, the very design of your website has an impact on the amount of CO2 that is emitted for each visit to the site. In short, digital sustainability is about making your website as efficient and user-friendly as possible. If visitors can quickly find what they are looking for, they will spend less time online – and therefore less energy loading content and powering their device. At the same time, a user-friendly website also means satisfied users and, by extension, a higher chance of conversions. Plus, it makes for good marketing if your business is visibly environmentally conscious.
There are plenty of reasons to take the step towards a greener website. You can test how sustainable your website is here – maybe it is time to adjust or start fresh?
Check out the following 10 tips on how you can take the environment into account when updating or building a new energy-friendly website.
To start, it is good practice to design your company’s website for mobile users first and foremost. The mobile-friendly experience is easy and fast loading, which automatically also means it requires less power.
Make sure you have your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) under control. This helps users find what they are looking for quickly, which means less time spent searching the web and fewer pages loaded. Plus, it is only good for your business if it helps bring those searchers to your site.
User-friendly user journey.
Good design always prioritises the user, but it has the added benefit of being more sustainable. A well-organised website with clear and well-structured page navigation makes it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. It also means that only necessary content needs to be loaded, as the user is not clicking around in confusion on a lot of extra content. In other words, user-friendly design both makes for satisfied visitors and saves energy.
While you are streamlining the structure of your website, why not do the same with the content itself? The more content that needs to be loaded; the more energy is required. Cut out the unnecessary and focus on quality content that has a clear purpose, is useful, and gets straight to the point. This, in turn, improves the user experience.
Images and videos.
The most energy-intensive digital content is images and, even more so, videos. However, both can play a big part in making your website both appealing and engaging – and sometimes they are so important to the content that they are unavoidable. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to minimise the impact on the environment. First, consider which images, videos, or animations are strictly necessary. Do they have a clear purpose, or do they just look good? Then, you can reduce their size and resolution as much as possible so that they are less weighty to load. Finally, it is best to avoid auto-playing videos and you should use lazy load for images so that they are not all loaded from the start with the page, but only as the user scrolls down to them.
Colors and fonts.
A few additional visual aspects you have influence over are colors and fonts. Different colors require different amounts of energy – the brighter, the more energy. Similarly, using multiple fonts rather than just one or using non-standard fonts requires more energy.
Delete and tidy up.
It is a good idea to clean up your company’s website on a regular basis. Is there content that is no longer needed and should perhaps simply be deleted? This can include everything from unwanted themes and plug-ins to old versions of posts, categories and tags, spam comments, dead links, unused media files, etc. In short: the more streamlined the website is, the more energy-efficient it is.
Last but perhaps most important is the choice of web hosting provider. You may have designed a website that is very considerate of the environment, but this website also needs to be hosted via a server – a server that requires a lot of electricity and thus constitutes a significant part of the site’s CO2 emissions. Therefore, it is important that you research where providers buy their electricity. Choose a web host that uses clean energy for a sustainable website. When we at design concern build websites for our clients, they are hosted by our partner Curanet, whose data centres are of course 100% based on green and CO2-neutral energy.
There is one last option: CO2 neutralisation. Several companies now offer services where you pay for an amount of money to be donated to climate projects, so that you make a positive impact on the environment equivalent to the calculated CO2 emissions of your website. Projects are set up that absorb CO2 and you simply pay an appropriate amount to offset the energy costs of visits to your company’s website and keeping it running. This is a quick and easy way to be sustainable. Many large companies therefore also make use of this service. The previous steps are effective in reducing CO2 emissions, but all websites will ultimately still have an impact on the environment, albeit reduced. Neutralisation, on the other hand, is a kind of total solution – though perhaps with a slightly delayed effect if it is done through tree planting, for example. Whether you use it as an alternative shortcut or in addition to the above steps, such services come with a badge for your website that shows visitors that your company care for the environment through CO2 neutralisation.
Do you need help?
Are you looking to build a new and sustainable website? Or maybe you want to update your current website to make it more environmentally friendly? Regardless, design concern is ready to help you go greener for both a clear conscience and increased competitiveness.
Call or write for a non-binding chat.