Why is Sustainability in Web Design & Development Important and How to Implement It

With the rising concern on curtailing the massive environmental impact of the internet’s greenhouse gas emission, there is a need for a sustainable web manifesto that focuses on creating data-efficient content for the internet. According to this research, the internet emits 1.6 billion annual tons of greenhouse gas. These carbon dioxide emissions have a huge negative influence on our dear planet, and hence the need for a more sustainable approach in web designs. One may think isn’t the call for more greener energy usage for the internet a problem for Google or network engineers alone to tackle?

Well, it is wrong to think so. Personally, as a web designer and developer I strongly believe that by implementing sustainable strategies in web design and development, there will be a huge positive impact on our sides in making the internet more clean and green.

In this post I’ll explain;

  • What sustainability means in web design and development?
  • Why is sustainability in web design and development important?
  • How can a website be designed sustainably?
  • How will a sustainable website benefit a customer?

What does sustainability in web design and development mean?

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Sustainability in web design and development means creating web content that completely aligns with the present need of the user without hindering the ability of those needs to be met again in the future.

A sustainable web design and development obeys the six principles of the sustainable web manifesto which are;

  • Clean: Making use of clean renewable energy to power services provided or used by web designers and developers.
  • Efficient: Making use of the least and necessary amount of energy and resources in creating web content.
  • Open: Making products and services accessible to the user and allowing open information exchange.
  • Honest: The products and services provided must not mislead or exploit the user.
  • Regenerative: The products and services provided will support the economy and put the people and planet first.
  • Resilient: The products and services provided won’t lose useful in time and places needed by the user.

Why Sustainability in Web Design & Development is important

Though dematerializing physical products and replacing them with lightweight web versions is highly encouraged, not all dematerialization is good for the internet. The web is filled up with so many junks that it takes up huge bits. These bits in turn require a constant supply of energy to display them on screen. A 2011 study shows that the public internet transferred 72 exabytes worldwide which took as much as 9% of US electricity to push. This is an enormous energy consumption that increases the internet carbon footprints which endangers the planet.

Therefore just like it is in the hands of potters to consider the size of space and the efficiency of their craft, so it is in the hands of we the web designers and developers to determine the sustainability of the web content we’re creating by adopting the necessary sustainability approach in other to create a website that is resilient and efficient.

How can a website be designed sustainably?

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A skilled up to date web designer and a developer will ensure to follow the principles of the sustainable web manifesto to implement the rightful strategies required to make a website sustainable.

Over at BAM Studio, they start by first making sure that our business is run and maintained sustainably by;

  • Reducing our energy consumption in other to decrease greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce paper use in the office to help save the trees

The company then put more focus on design and SEO which are the two main areas of web design and development that require optimization to deliver a sustainable high-performance and user-friendly website for our customers.

Design optimization

In design optimization, ensure that

First,

Efficient code is used for the web design and development

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To create a sustainable website, web designers must be efficient with their codes, making sure that the website is not overloaded with codes that will do no good rather than slow up the website.

While working on projects, companies adopt the use of simple codes and try to avoid complicating our work with enormous codes. This approach is very important because it enables an easy future update implementation and makes it simple enough for customers to understand and work on them directly if they want to do it themselves.

Secondly,

The weight of the website and its assets are made as light as possible

During designing and development, companies need to ensure that frontend codes are lightweight so that only the least and the necessary amount of energy is consumed to keep it running.

Static assets such as images, CSS or javascript, and HTML also contribute to the total weight of the website and hence we optimize them efficiently to achieve a lightweight website that is sustainable and will continue to serve the user even in the future.

Thirdly,

The page count of websites

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A website with fewer pages means less data will be required to load the page and hence increases the sustainability of the website. We make sure only relevant pages are added to the website for easier navigation and improved user experience.

SEO Optimizations

The importance of SEO in website design can’t be over-emphasized. SEO for websites does not just help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emission from them, but it is also what makes a website crawlable by search engines. This makes it easier for users to easily search and find out what they are looking for on the internet. Gone are the days when it’s only SEO agencies that tended to concern themselves with search engine optimization for websites. Nowadays the best and skilled web designer and developer must understand SEO and how to implement it during the developmental stages of web design to achieve a future-proof sustainable website.

Below are SEO areas we optimize on our projects to achieve sustainability.

The loading speed of a website

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Several factors influence a website load speed such as the use of heavy CSS and JavaScript, poor coding standards, and the use of a bad server. We eliminate these factors by employing the use of speed testing tools to create and deliver a sustainable website for the client.

A faster loading site greatly improves user experience and results in less data consumption required to display the relevant pages for the user. Doing this improves the overall user experience and leads to lesser carbon emissions which makes our planet much safer.

Optimizing for a Mobile-friendly website

The majority of internet consumption is done via mobile phones. Therefore a sustainable website must be optimized for a mobile-friendly version to meet the consumer’s need without tampering with the more data consumption desktop version.

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