A brief introduction to sustainable web design

Originally published on Gift Tanakan’s Blog

If you’re new to sustainable web design, this is the right place to learn about it. In this article, you’ll get to know what sustainable web design is, why it matters, and how to create it.

What is sustainable web design?

In short, “Sustainable web design” is a web design that aims to reduce the environmental impact on the planet. 

For a longer definition, I find that Tom Greenwood, author of the book “Sustainable Web Design” and a specialist in performance and sustainability, explains it well. He states, “Sustainable web design is an approach to designing web services that prioritizes the health of our home planet. At its core is a focus on reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption.”

After learning about sustainable web design for a while and realizing the benefits that come with it, this is how I define it: Sustainable web design is the web design aiming to reduce carbon footprint while increasing web efficiency, usability, and accessibility. 

On this blog, you will see me using the terms “Green web design,” “Lean web design,” “Eco-friendly web design,” or “Low-carbon web design” interchangeably as they are all the same thing. 

Why does sustainable web design matter?

Here are three main reasons why every web designer, developer, or those who run a website should adopt green web practices:

  1. The internet industry is as polluting as the airline industry; it produces around 3.7% of carbon emissions globally and keeps increasing. By adopting green web design, you can cut down your carbon footprint by decluttering useless web elements.
  2. Most web hosting companies still rely on electricity produced with fossil fuels. Choosing green hosting for the website will reduce carbon emissions and help push the momentum of running the site with clean, renewable energy.
  3. The benefits of sustainable web design align with web usability design, where user experience is key. Sustainable web design focuses on building a lean, accessible, efficient, simple, and useful site. 

How to design a sustainable website?

Here are a few core processes that explain how to make a website more sustainable in a nutshell:

  1. Choose a green hosting provider or content delivery network (CDN).
  2. Develop and maintain lean web design by focusing on web standards, keeping the essential functionalities, and discarding the rest.  
  3. Optimize web content. For example, choose lightweight media formats, compress images, and cache files.

There you have it, the very brief introduction to sustainable web design. But, of course, this is only the surface of the whole design principle. There is so much more to talk about! Does this information surprise you in any way? Have you already tried any of the above steps?

For more content about sustainable web design, head over to my blog.

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