Sustainable Web Design - How To Reduce Your Website’s Carbon Footprint?

Website Design and Development

Written by
Robbie Mould

Sustainable Web Design - How To Reduce Your Website’s Carbon Footprint?

When it comes to sustainable web design, most companies either don’t know or underestimate their website’s contribution to their overall carbon footprint.

At RJM Digital, we understand that websites play a considerable role in contributing to overall global carbon emissions - and that’s why we are helping small businesses to calculate and reduce their website carbon footprint.

What Does Sustainable Web Design Mean?

The idea behind sustainable web design is to reduce the website’s carbon footprint. The best way to do it is by reducing the amount of data travelling between the user and the server. As a result, fewer server resources and energy will be required to process the data, reducing carbon emissions.

Unfortunately, web developers and website owners can often overuse website elements (such as media, text, links, forms, etc.) leading to a higher consumption of server resources.

Our focus should be on using only the elements essential to a good user experience. Check out our tips below to see how you can promote sustainable web design:

Reduce Webpages File Sizes

For a website to be sustainable, webpage size matters a lot. Larger webpage files contribute to the consumption of more server resources, leading to slower sites and an increase in CO2 emissions from web servers.

From an SEO perspective, it also impacts website traffic as well. According to a study conducted by Pingdom, the average bounce rate for pages with load time within 2 seconds is 9%, whereas it is 24% for the pages with 4 seconds load time. High bounce rates can impact your ability to rank higher on the SERPs.

Faster Loading Speeds

The efficiency of your website depends on the overall loading speed. Slower loading speeds means the usage of more processing power, resulting in a higher carbon footprint.

Loading speeds depend not on the web page file size but also on resources (stylesheets, scripts, media, etc.) loaded to construct the pages.

Green Hosting

Any web server hosting your website needs to be operating 24 hours a day, so choosing a hosting provider that uses 100% renewable energy can be an excellent way of creating a sustainable website. Some hosting providers have built their own clean energy infrastructures, whereas others use certified green renewable energy sources. You can find a list of green hosting companies here.

How Can You Test Your Website's Carbon Footprint?

With the use of free tools like WebsiteCarbon.com and TheGreenWebFoundation.org, you can get an estimate of your website's carbon footprint. While WebsiteCarbon.com gives a detailed view of the carbon footprint, TheGreenWebFoundation.org lets you know if a website is a green hosting provider or not.

How to Build a Website Using Sustainable Web Design?

A sustainable website not only requires fewer resources and power but it will also help you deliver a great user experience and an improved website performance.

Here are a few of the ways that will help you build a website using sustainable design.

Avoid Using High-Resolution Images

These days images make up 60% of the size of an average webpage. Using high-resolution images makes your website look fantastic, but they also contribute to slower load times and more server power consumption. As a result, the website's performance is impacted, causing more harm to the environment.

To avoid this, try to use images on an as and when needed basis and optimise this images before publishing them on your website. Reduce their resolution and image quality as much as possible and compress these images for the web using image optimisation tools such as TinyPNG or ShortPixel.

Build for Mobile Devices

Building responsive web design with a mobile-first strategy in mind means you are optimise the website content to work on both on desktops and laptops as well as smartphones and tablets. As a result, the site will need less processing power, and the overall user experience will also be enhanced.

Avoid using CMS platforms like Wordpress, Wix, Weebly

Whilst Content Management Systems (CMS) or website builders are convenient tools, they are not suitable for building sustainable websites, as they usually include lots of unused and wasted code to build websites. This means websites will have to load a considerable amount of unused code when someone visits it, forcing your website to use an unnecessary amount of server resources.

How Do We Build Websites to be Sustainable?

Here at RJM Digital, we build sustainable websites using Gatsby, a web framework for building blazing-fast websites and apps and use Firebase as our green hosting provider.

For websites requiring blogs, we use database-free CMS systems to add and update the content as frequently as you need. These tools enable us to build excellent websites that adhere to a sustainable web design philosophy.