Greening the internet by creating environmentally friendly websites

Greening the internet by creating environmentally friendly websites, this is a quite new discipline, you may or may not have heard of it before, People are still experimenting a lot, trying different things of how they can make something that never been fully sustainable because obviously there is energy being used to power the data exchange when visiting the website and receiving content that’s hosted on it.

According to Internet Live Stats, currently there are almost 2 billion websites globally and it appears to be growing quickly. If the Internet was a country, it would be the sixth largest in terms of electricity use with annual carbon footprint of 830 million tons, which puts it on par with the aviation industry. The fact is that, looking at a webpage with pictures or video emits an estimates .2 grams of CO2 per second.

Just because our work is intangible, it’s not without environmental consequences. The internet is a major polluter, and every site or service we produce does some level of harm. But on the other hand, the things we make have a huge potential to help reduce pollution.

Activists in this sector are definitely experimenting a lot with different ways to mitigate this but at the heart of the problem, is that the internet is powered by energy and this energy is not always coming from green sources and there is only small minority of servers out there that are powered by green energy.

Web Server or Hosting is where website files are hosted and there is a user which is on a laptop or a mobile on anywhere in the world which requests information from the website and the website sends the request to the server and server use the power to send the files or information back to the user so there are two power sources and a lot more complex processes which I’m not going to lie, I’m not an engineer and I’m not the right person to explain the complex process of the servers. But obviously, the first thing at the core of green web design is advocating for a shift to green energy providers for servers so whether is people deciding to opt for a green host so the hosting provider that powers their server through green energy.

What else we can do beyond green hosting

We can do a lot in terms of UX/UI and content strategy and we can do a fair a bit with design itself, design of the layout and we can do a lot through coding best practices but the key thing is that when I mentioned user experience, If we structure the website with the users behavior and their needs in mind so what happens is that they will find what they need quicker and they’ll spend less time on the website so as more they search and look for the information as more request will be send to the server and more energy will be used.

This is not a massive difference compared to what we can achieve by switching to a green hosting provider but it’s still very meaningful and the added bonus is that this benefits the business that owns the websites because if people get to where they want to be or get the information they need quicker they’re more likely to convert whatever the conversion funnel on the website is, whatever the action that the website owner wants these users to take, so there are business benefits to it which I think it’s very important.

Design wise instead is about rethinking assumptions dictated by style and fashion in web design. In the last 10 years we’ve seen a lot of trends in this sector and what happened is that web designers and developers got over the top they started creating fancy designs with parallax effects and put videos, large size images, use multiple JavaScript libraries and variety of web-fonts, so basically they go a lot for visuals which drops the website load speed and increase the energy consumption.

it doesn’t mean they should not use any images on the website, but there is a lot that can be done with typography with more friendly type of visuals like vector graphics and optimizing the image size before uploading it into the website.

Getting User to Opt into Green Choices

Having done what, we can to code and supply our services in an environmentally-friendly way, it’s time to turn our attention to where our designs meet our users.

Getting users to opt into green choices can be tricky—after all, you are probably asking them to sacrifice some of their money or convenience.

By adding sustainable thinking to our product design, we can (sometimes) give users the opportunity to achieve their green goals while accomplishing their short-term tasks.

There are three basic questions to consider:

  1. What are we making?
  2. By using it, will people be helping or hurting the environment?
  3. If it isn’t helping the environment, can we give the users a way to do what they want in greener, or less harmful, way?

This is obvious that, with services that are not tangible, it can be harder to find a way to enable green behavior but there is always a way to help shape consumer behavior towards the greener option.

At the end, you know the cool thing is that many of these practices improve both our environmental impact as well as the user experience. We should take advantage of a win-win situation! Isn’t it? 🙂

In Conclusion

I hope that I’ve convinced you that Eco-friendly Web Design is something that needs to become part of the creative process of designers and developers and be noticed by website owners. This discipline is at its start, and needs the design community to develop and contribute to its growth.

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