This is a guest post courtesy of 3magine, a web design company in Toronto.
Website design is primarily about visual appeal, customer draw, and superior organization. It is an aspect of your online portal that is meant to attract new customers and bring back old ones. It makes the experience of using your website pages more pleasant to the viewer and, hopefully, renders a boost to your bottom line.
But there are other aspects of website design that also need to be taken into consideration. The Internet is growing by leaps and bounds every year and so is its carbon footprint. Many high-volume websites see daily page view counts in the 10s or even 100s or millions. All this activity requires a lot of energy to sustain, and power plants are increasing their carbon dioxide emissions by some 830 million tons per year to keep up.
What Is Sustainable Web Design?
The effort to reduce unnecessary energy use by website designers has come to be known as “sustainable web design.” Since as much as 40 percent of all energy expended via Internet usage is attributable to the way web pages are designed, there is much progress that can be made by relatively simply re-adjustments.
What Are Some Benefits of Sustainable Web Design?
One of the best things about sustainable website design practices is that they have beneficial side effects beyond environmental issues:
- Unnecessary clutter is removed, making web page use less distracting and gaining an attractiveness that flows from simplicity.
- Pages load faster, making for happier customers. Downloads process faster as well. Everything runs easier and gets stuck less often.
- Since less data is stored and less energy is used, the website owner saves money.
- Slimmer, trimmer web pages tend to load better on mobile devices. Since the Web is now predominantly accessed via mobile means, this is an obvious advantage.
- In the process of making your website more sustainable, errors, glitches, and less than optimal design features can be caught and ironed out. You can give your website a “facelift” at the same time you reduce its energy use.
What Are Some Ways That Sustainability Is Achieved?
The number one way to reduce kB and energy use on your web pages is to cut down on the kB count of images. Image overload causes many websites to take as much as seven seconds to load, not acceptable to most of today’s Internet users. Every page on your site should load, under normal conditions, in only two or three seconds. Every page should also keep within a pre-defined kB total. Some ways you can reduce energy use by images on your website include:
- Reduce the number and size of images and combine smaller images into single collages where feasible.
- Prefer PNGs since JPEGs uses more energy. It is true that JPEGs compress well, but they are also difficult to read on mobile devices.
- Use still pictures instead of so many video clips. Use text at points instead of images. Minimize image kBs within the parameters of still meeting your business goals.
The second thing you can do to promote sustainable website design is to reduce the energy it takes to process download-able files from your site. Any static download files can be cached. Most downloads can be compressed with GZip to save space and energy.
Third, you can have a professional website design company re-code your website. They can shrink scripts, combine existing files, and eliminate any faulty code.
Lastly, you can use a “green web hosting” company that utilizes alternative energy like wind, solar, and hydroelectric. It is easier than ever to find viable green options and help the environment.