How can I make my website green? A Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Web-Development
Shocking though it may sound, the carbon footprint of all of our electronic devices combined, including the internet and the data that supports it, accounts for just under 4% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. To put this into perspective, that’s almost the same amount as that produced by the entire airline industry across the globe.
Although this may seem like a problem that one individual has little chance of resolving, every single internet user is personally responsible for 414 kg of carbon dioxide each year. In light of the recent news that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reached their highest point in over 3.6 million years, now more than ever is the time to consider making your website eco-friendly.
Here are a few easy steps you can follow in order to do your bit for the environment when creating a new website:
Practice what you preach
You can take all the precautions you like to make your new website green, but if you fail to use a web host that shares these values, sadly your efforts may all be made in vain. Your website’s physical data is stored in a data centre, wherein all your files and information are hosted so that they can appear on online servers.
While efficient, data centres use a phenomenal amount of electricity to keep up with rising data demands, and with over 8,000,000 centres currently running worldwide, that equates to a very large energy footprint.
Opting for a green web host, whose practices involve using renewable energy sources and other environmentally conscious decisions, is therefore the first important step towards making your website more sustainable.
A digital service leading by example are the German search engine Ecosia, which donates 80% of its annual profits to reforestation projects, and promise to plant a tree for every 45 searches it performs.
Don’t overcomplicate it
Although it may be tempting to give your website the ‘royal treatment’ with regards to graphics, animations, and videos galore, opting for a minimalist approach will drastically reduce your site’s carbon footprint.
Overloading each page with complex coding and lengthy files will only decrease the speed of your server. It is likely that your website will take a long while to load, which will not only irritate your visitors, but also rack up a hefty amount of energy usage.
So, keep it simple! Only use images and videos that genuinely improve the experience of your visitors and make their interaction with your site worthwhile, and not purely for show.
Here’s a simple tip; reducing the size of your website’s featured images using a compressor tool can mean that you’re still able to include all of your imagery without overloading the server.
Don’t be tempted by the dark side
Believe it or not, the colour scheme of your website can make a big difference on the amount of energy it uses. Now that LCD monitors are the most popular choice for the majority of internet users, it is better to use a lighter colour palette when designing your website’s general appearance, as darker colours use up far more energy when viewed through these monitors.
Make it Print-Friendly
If you’ve ever tried to print off a page from a website only to realise that half the text has disappeared and none of the images are showing up, you’ll understand why making your own website print-friendly is so important.
By using specific plug-ins, such as PDF and PrintFriendly, you can eliminate the lengthy process of printing and re-printing; this not only reduces the amount of paper that is needed to print the full document, but also the amount of time that each visitor will be spending on their screen attempting to print it out.