Get Started with Sustainable Web Design in 2017
Your website might not be the first item you think of when building a sustainable business, but the equipment used to deliver content to your visitors takes a lot of electricity.
By taking some extra steps though, you can reduce your website’s energy consumption and environmental impact.
While this article mostly addresses technical web development issues, the important take-away for digital marketers is that you can build a website that is more energy-efficient—and should ask your web development partner how their process can help you accomplish this.
Images are incredibly important to the web, but they do slow down a website’s performance and increase energy consumption – especially if they’re not optimized.
It’s very easy to export an image from Photoshop for immediate use, but taking a few extra moments to reduce its file size means faster load times and less energy needed to deliver it.
Tiny PNG is a third-party service that optimizes PNG and JPG images. In addition to its web service, it can be integrated into Photoshop, WordPress, Magento and Craft CMS, which means it’s accessible to designers and content managers. Other similar services include Kraken and Compressor.
If you use images for navigation and icons, it’s easy to create a separate file for each image. If you use a sprite sheet, you can be even more efficient and accomplish something like this:
The above example still gives you access to all three images, but requires fewer trips to the server. And trips to the server, like multiple trips to the refrigerator, use more energy.
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We saved the largest factor in web sustainability for last, and that is your website host. Servers and cooling systems consume vast amounts of energy, so finding a company that’s putting efforts into renewable energy is an important issue for your sustainability initiatives.
Green web hosting is still finding its legs though, and what constitutes a “green” hosting company varies. Some use the term to mean internal recycling programs or keeping lights off to minimize their carbon footprint. Others employ it to mean they purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) on the open market, and even fewer define it to mean they enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) from a renewable energy provider.
You can read more about RECs and PPAs here.
Regardless of how a hosting provider uses the term “green,” we encourage you to do your homework to find a hosting provider that best suits your needs and values.
So how does Oliver Russell’s website stack up? To be honest, there’s room for improvement. In the near future, we’ll be implementing some changes in order to become a better example for web development sustainability.
If you’d like to find out how your website performs, head over to Ecograder and see if you need to make any improvements. Of course, we’d be happy talk with you about how to make your website more sustainable as well—just pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 208.344.1734.
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