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Sustainable Web Design 101

Summary: Every pixel has an impact. Websites—especially large and complex ones—have a carbon footprint and contribute to climate change. Here are three (ok, four) ways you can reduce your impact while providing a better product for your users.

Your website is contributing to climate change.

If the internet were a country, it would be the fourth biggest polluter in the world. This has real ramifications for the fight against climate change. As a B Corp™, we see the importance of raising awareness about sustainable web design practices to help reduce this trend. 

While a comprehensive solution is complex, there are practical things businesses and organizations can do now to make a difference. Sustainable web design practices also have tangible benefits like improved performance and usability that increase your bottom line. 

Here are three sustainable web design tips to start your journey.

1. Simplify user journeys

Every webpage you visit uses energy, so it’s important to streamline user journeys and reduce the number of page loads. Helping users complete tasks and find information more quickly has the dual benefit of consuming less energy AND increasing conversions.

Pro-Tip: Include your primary call to action on every page of a journey to convert sooner. 

2. Reduce file sizes

The more data you transfer, the more energy is consumed. Lots of big images, flashy animations, and auto-play videos are more about your wants than the needs of the end user. By being intentional and optimizing the assets you employ, you not only reduce your website’s carbon footprint, you increase performance. This translates to better search rankings, lower bounce rates, and improved UX for mobile devices and slower connections.

Pro Tip: Blur the background or convert to black & white to greatly reduce an image’s file size.

3. Choose green hosting

As Tom Greenwood, our fellow B Corp friend and the author of Sustainable Web Design, says: “Web hosting is a central part of the internet and therefore a central part of its environmental impact.” There are options for green hosting from providers who employ sustainable practices and energy efficiency in their infrastructure. Use the Green Web Directory from the Green Web Foundation to find the right green hosting provider for your needs.

Pro Tip: CDNs, or Content Delivery Networks, are a great way to improve the performance of your site and reduce energy consumption. They do so by moving assets closer to the end user which reduces the distance they travel across networks.

Bonus: Ban the bots!

Did you know that a large percentage of your web traffic comes from bots? Some good like Google, some bad like scrapers and attackers. Implementing a firewall service is an easy way to keep the good, ban the bad, and reduce your carbon footprint.

How can you get started with web sustainability?