6 ways to make your website more environmentally friendly.

2 mins

I’ve been banging on about the carbon footprint of the web recently and have read a book or two about it. It’s a complicated subject, and one where you might easily find yourself overwhelmed. But there are some relatively simple and straightforward things that can be done to lower the carbon footprint of a website.

Some of these items might seem a bit brutal; brand and functionality can get in the way. But if implemented, the impact would be big:

 

1. Images

Optimise them, aggressively. Use the WebP or AVIF formats where possible. Use fewer images – be selective about the ones you do use. Don’t add images just for the sake of it.

 

2. Videos

Environmentally speaking, autoplaying videos are the devil. They’re also very presumptuous, causing massive data downloads when people might not want them and have not asked for them. Question how necessary that autoplay – or even the actual video – is to the end user.

 

3. Colour

On newer screens, a black pixel uses the least energy, and a white one the most. This was also true of CRT screens many years ago, giving rise to services like http://www.blackle.com/ – which is essentially the Google search with a black screen. Normal LED screens however use the same energy regardless of pixel colour, so this has only re-emerged as an issue with the increased usage of OLED screens. Also worth noting – blue uses 25 percent more power than green or red. And yes… we know our own website needs work on this front.

 

4. Fonts

Use fewer of them and use less weights. Variable fonts are better – that is, those that don’t require a separate font file for every weight or style (like italic). Then optimise them to get rid of the character sets you don’t need.

 

5. Hosting

Don’t host in the UK for users in Australia. Host in Australia, the nearest part of Australia if possible. If your users are spread out globally use a content delivery network, which will take local copies of your site. Choose a provider with positive environmental credentials where possible.

 

6. Custom User Interface Components

Custom form components and page animations are particular culprits so add and use them with care. They will bloat the page, bloat the download and cause a browser to use more processing power.

 

In conclusion

There is obviously a more nuanced and sophisticated conversation to be had about the impact of changing these 6 things. There are also more things you could do. But it’s a place to start.

Traditionally at Spork, the decision on whether to include functionality or not has been a matter of brand, technology capability, and cost. But we believe that, as an industry, tech agencies have a responsibility to educate, and within that conversation we need to change and include the environmental impact of what we do.

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