Tips for making your website more sustainable

Last year I watched a talk by Tom Greenwood from Wholegrain Digital about Sustainable web design. I had no idea what it was about, but it sparked my interest. I took the learnings from the webinar and applied it to my own personal website. It is still a work in progress and will most likely need to be relooked at once I have added more content. Below I will share how you can reduce your carbon footprint for your website.

Switch to a green hosting provider

One thing I noticed is there aren’t many green hosting providers in South Africa – or not that I am aware of. I used this map to search for a green host in Cape Town, but sadly none was found in my country. I then reached out to Cloudabove (based in UK), which informed me that they do green hosting and for every new client they plant trees with Ecologi. So far I am pleased with their service.

Minimise images and remove auto-playing videos

On most websites, images and videos are the single largest contributors to page weight. The more images you use and the larger those image files, the more data needs to be transferred and the more energy is used. Do they have a purpose or do they simply look nice? Only use images you really need, and reduce their resolution and image quality as much as possible. Remember to use lazy load for images.

Choose your fonts wisely

Web fonts can enhance the visual appeal of websites but can add significant file weight to the websites on which they are used. Use system fonts where possible and limit the use of variable fonts, because custom fonts add to the page load.

Improve SEO and searchability

When optimising a website for search engine rankings, we are helping people find the information they want quickly and easily. This will result in people spending less time browsing the web looking for information, and visiting less pages. 

Implement web caching

Implement database and browser caching. This significantly reduces server energy consumption and makes a big difference to page load times. When the user revisits the page, they can retrieve this data from the cache location rather than querying the web server again. This improves the performance of a website and minimizes the transfer of data.

Remove what you don’t need

Remove unnecessary code where possible, Javascript libraries like JQuery especially. Remove scripts that constantly track or watch user interaction. Don’t install tracking software that slows down page loads. Periodically carry out a spring clean of your website and delete anything you’re not using. This includes unwanted plugins, old post revisions, unused media, categories and tags, spam comments, broken links, etc. Delete things that are not essential.

There is a lot more you can do to make your website greener, but I have covered the basics to get you started. Many of these changes will seem small and only make minor differences, but every byte counts. Reducing the environmental impacts of the web requires a fundamental shift in focus amongst the entire industry. However, by implementing these easy changes, we can all do our bit in making websites more eco-friendly.You are playing an important part in reducing the carbon emissions arising from the tech sector.

 

More handful resources 

Wholegrain digital

Sustainable Web Design

Gather Round

Branch

Climate Tech

Mightybytes

Sustainable dev

Layout

Fershad Irani