Are digital products sustainable? 🌱

ux design

Have you ever thought about sustainable web design?

Sustainability is omnipresent in all areas of our lives today – when we buy food, dispose of our waste, store for clothes, how we get around or where our next vacation is going.

Anyone who cares about sustainability considers what impact their own behavior has on the environment, and thus on the climate, or how we could reduce our ecological footprint.

But what about our digital products or your work as a designer? 🌱

Ecological footprint of digital products

All the digital products that each of us uses in our everyday lives are often left out of these considerations. Without any good reason. 🤷‍♀️

Because our computers, laptops, TVs, smartphones and tablets leave a “trail of devastation” behind so large is the ecological footprint. And we’re not just talking about the physical products, but also the software, servers and data that are indispensable to our digital world and consume vast amounts of energy.

Sustainable web design therefore has its reasons for existence more than ever before and should play a so much greater role in our daily work with digital products.

Design for good

How can digital products be made greener?

There are an enormous number of factors that influence sustainability, or the converted or measurable CO2 emissions. In addition to the reduction of data volumes and renewable energies for servers, sustainable design plays a decisive role.

With design, we can influence the size of the data transmitted per website visit, for example. The more elements and effects we use, the larger the code base required for implementation.

But when it comes to sustainability, the principle definitely applies: less is more. Lean websites transmit less data and therefore load faster.

More sustainability factors to influence by UX and UI design:

  • Good Information architecture reduces browsing time. The faster users finds their desired information, the less time it takes them to spend energy on browsing.
  • Optimized image sizes reduce data volume and loading time.
  • Dark colors reduce the energy needed to illuminate displays. That’s why dark mode is not just a preference issue. If you can reduce blue in your designs, that’s even better, because this color needs more energy than all other colors.

Do you find sustainable web design exciting and want to know more? Then you should read the book Sustainable Web Design by Tom Greenwood. 📗

Testing your own websites

Ecograder is a tool that allows you to find out how green or sustainable your own website is. It’s quite interesting and I tried it once for the whitewords.io website.

Here you can see the result:

Ecograder - sustainable web design
Ecograder results for www.whitewords.io regarding sustainable web design.

So what could I do better?

  • My SEO optimization is not the best and the site is not really easy to find. So I could optimize my keywords and follow a better link strategy.
  • Regarding page speed, I’m not exactly ahead of the game.
  • My images are certainly not optimized and as I am using WordPress, the CSS and Javascript files sent along are probably not always on “low volume” either. 😬
  • Hosting – not bad, but could be better. My provider advertises to be sustainable. But maybe there are better ones on the market? 🤨

Try it on your own website and feel free to share the results with me. I would be really curious what the results look for other sides. 👀

Sustainable Web Manifesto

It’s not always easy to shift from talking about to getting into action – especially when it comes to sustainability.

If you’re convinced that you too want to play a part in making our web greener, you can sign the Sustainable Web Manifesto and express your commitment and actions.

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