Top Ways to Build a Sustainable Website

published Mar 09, 2022
3 min read

Simple, effective ways to build a website that uses less energy!

Just like the textile mills of the Industrial Revolution, the information age is not without a mechanical infrastructure that uses up vast amounts of energy. Indeed, for the internet, and the billions of web pages that make it up to exist huge data centers must be run, and cooled which tasks up massive amounts of power. Sadly, at this current time, this energy is rarely supplied from green sources, meaning the world wide web is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions rivaling those of Germany, an entire country, every year!

The good news is that there are small changes we can make on the website design level that will make things much more sustainable. Some of these changes even have the bonus of offering better SEO and customer experience too. However, if you want to make in-depth changes or don’t feel equipped to action the ones we will mention below, fear not! Your best bet is to employ a dedicated website design company to help your site become as sustainable as possible, which in turn will not only be greener for your business, but our planet too. Read on to find out what these changes are and the benefits of each.

Make sure your site runs on green energy

Probably the most obvious tactic to help your site be more sustainable is using a hosting service that runs solely on renewable energy. After all, if the power it needs to run is coming from wind, solar, hydro, or thermal energy, less CO2 will be created and released into the atmosphere.

Of course, finding a green web hosting service is about more than where their energy is sourced, as you will want to make sure that they can also provide you with the support, and performance your business needs as well.

Currently, there are fewer green hosting services that do well on the performance and customer service side than is ideal. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is an excellent option as they are committed both to being carbon neutral and to using renewable energy.

Declutter your site

Not only is a cluttered site full of information that is no longer relevant bad for your visitor’s experience, but it will also be using up unnecessary energy. The good news is that this gives you a great excuse to regularly make the time to get rid of anything that is no longer needed on your site, making it much clearer and more efficient.

Be sure to consider all aspects of your site thoroughly including visual media as described above, as well as repeated comments, outdated themes, and even broken links.

Reduce image file sizes

Everyone knows that a great website needs equally great images to illustrate its points and reinforce its brand. However, using high-resolution images could be doing more harm than good.

This is because they take longer to load, and so use up much more energy than their lower resolution cousins. With that in mind, be sure to reduce the image resolution quality or compress any pictures you include on your site.

Additionally, an even better option is to carefully consider the use of each image before displaying it on your site. That way you can be sure that it’s there for a distinct purpose, making the visual experience clearer for your visitors, while also saving on energy usage at the same time.

Use lazy load for anything below the fold

In web design, below the fold refers to anything underneath the visible page when it first loads. That means users will have to scroll down to view anything below the fold. To that end, using lazy loading for all media below the fold makes sense, both because it saves on energy usage and because it will ensure your website will load as fast as possible. The latter is vital as it will not only impress your visitors but help to enhance your site’s SEO too.

Use Video sparingly

There is zero doubt that using video on your website can be an effective way of engaging visitors. Indeed, you will find it as a suggestion in just about every post online concerning how to improve your website.

However, if adding too many high-resolution images to your web design is bad for the environment, stuffing your site with videos can be catastrophic! After all, the video uses up even more energy to host and play.

Happily, the solution is also similar to the image issue, in that restraint and lower resolutions can make a big difference here. Embedding any videos into your site can help as well. Also, be sure to consider turning off autoplay, so visitors have the option of whether to view each video or not. Thereby, improving their experience, and saving energy consumption.

Make use of caching

Anything that reduces the transfer of data when a website is in use can help to cut its energy consumption and so make it more sustainable. That’s why making use of caching is so useful.

In a nutshell, cached data is stored on the user’s device, which in turn allows them to access your site much faster. It also means that less data has to be transferred from your site to theirs and so reduces the amount of energy used.

Perfect your site navigation

The longer visitors use your site, the more energy it will consume. With that in mind, making it as easy as possible for users to get in and out with the information they need is another step towards better sustainability.

Of course, this means instituting a clear and logical navigation structure where visitors can find what they need immediately. One of the best ways of doing this is to use a search box that will pick up on any keywords entered and take users straight to the relevant sections.

Another way to improve your website’s navigation so it uses up less energy is to carefully consider how your most visitors will interact with your site. This will include using audience personas to create interfaces and structures that are customised for those visitors your company particularly values, something that an expert web design specialist can assist you with.