You might think of the internet only as an intangible virtual concept. But the data we produce is stored and processed in data centers spread across the globe. They are powered by supercomputers that require massive electric-powered cooling systems.
So, what does this all mean for the environment? Probably not good news!
However, creating sustainable websites can help us play our part in saving the environment. Here’s how.
Why We Need Sustainable Web Design
This means that the internet, supporting systems, and our gadgets amount to up to 3.7% of the global greenhouse emissions. It equals what is produced by the global aviation industry. And if that isn’t alarming enough, it’s expected to double by the middle of this decade.
Every time you look up a website online, you emit 1.76 grams of CO2 per page view. So, annually, that particular website could produce up to 211 kg CO2.
Globally, there are approximately 4.66 billion active internet users. And with the steady spike in internet users around the globe, these numbers are expected to increase dramatically.
What Is Sustainable Web Design?
Sustainable web design is a practice to lower the power load of websites. It’s done by reducing the amount of energy required to access a website. This makes your website easily accessible, and overall, reduces the energy needed to power the internet.
Certain steps can make your website more environmentally friendly and sustainable. And if you’re worried about the technicalities, don’t be because applying sustainable web design is actually quite simplistic. Moreover, it also significantly enhances your website’s user-friendliness and performance.
So, what are those steps? Let’s dive in!
Choose a Green Web Hosting Service
Did you know data centers amount for approximately 2% of the total energy usage in the United States? That’s about 15 times more than what’s used for offices. You can minimize your website’s carbon footprint by hiring a company that utilizes reusable energy.
Though green web hosting is just finding its place, it can be a challenge to find a host that harmonizes it with reliable performance. However, sustainable web hosting and performance don’t have to be mutually exclusive. A green web hosting service can have the fastest response time when done right.
Improve Site Navigation Structure
An unclear and confusing navigation structure won’t just annoy your users; it’ll also boost the time people will spend trying to find what they need. With a logical navigation structure, your users can sift through your website easily and find what they want, lowering the amount of time spent on it.
Use Energy-Efficient Color Palettes
Sharp images are a growing trend in the market, with OLED screens becoming popular. But more energy is needed to deliver a sharper image with brighter colors. The color black requires the least amount of energy. Meanwhile, blue pixels require approximately 25% more than red pixels.
The dark mode is a sustainable way, but you don’t have to completely change your website’s color scheme or go dark mode. You can also implement energy-friendly color gradients.
Optimize Your Images
Page sizes are increasing in size every year. The median page weight on the phone and mobile devices is approximately 1,414 KB, and desktop devices are 1,539 KB. Out of them, images take up the most space. Though high-resolution images look amazing on a website, they also consume the most energy and have a higher load time.
Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest ways to lighten the weight. You can use smaller image formats rather than JPG formats. Moreover, you can also use image optimization tools before uploading them.
Use Lazy Loading for Media
Through lazy loading, you can only load the media and images that are required. It reduces the amount of content, so only the required content will be loaded when a user is accessing your page. When they scroll down, the rest of the media will be loaded, and if the user doesn’t, all unnecessary images won’t be loaded.
Utilize CSS Sprites
Besides lazy loading, you can also use CSS Sprites to load and display the required images. This means lower HTTP requests because the images are stored in one file.
Plan Out for Videos
Videos are way worse when it comes to burdening the internet. However, it’s also an effective way of capturing users’ engagement despite the lack of attention span. So, it’s obvious that you won’t completely cut out videos. And honestly, it’s not a feasible option. Being tactical with your video placement is the way to go here.
To start off, limit the videos on your website to ones that are extremely essential. Ask yourself if you really need a video background on your website.
You can also use the low resolution option and embed the videos straight into your website. It’s important that you don’t set them on autoplay.
Combine Everything in One Page
When a user clicks onto a new page, your website refreshes and requests to load all the media again. To effectively curtail your website’s carbon footprint, have fewer pages or combine everything into one page.
It’s also a brilliant idea for SEO because we all know that long-form content usually outperforms shorter content. That’s because long-form content is preferred on Google’s first page results. Moreover, having a user stay longer on a page will boost its dwell time.
When it comes to web design and software development, never settle for less than the best.
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