How to make a website sustainable?

The internet, the cloud, it’s becoming more and more popular. However, these terms are quickly seen as virtual concepts, this is because the connection is not necessarily visible to us. But nothing is further from the truth, the data we send via the internet is collected, processed and stored in large data centres around the world. These gigantic data centers are full of servers that perform these tasks constantly. Besides the fact that these servers use a lot of power themselves, they are often cooled by gigantic cooling systems.

The Internet therefore uses 416.2TWh of electricity per year. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the entire UK put together. Every time you visit a website it results in an average CO2 emission of 4,61 gram. So a website visited 10,000 times a month emits 553 kilos of CO2 per year.

The web is of course still growing very fast, at the moment there are about 3.5 billion internet users. This of course means very bad news for our planet. It is therefore important that we all do something about this. We are happy to give you tips to make your website more sustainable.

1. Optimize your images

On many websites, images are the culprits when it comes to file size of a web page. If you use more images with a larger file size, it could take more data to page. Of course, this all has to go through a data center. That’s why it’s important to make sure you scale your photos as much as possible. You can also think about placing photos in a carousel, for example, or achieve the same effect with a vector graphic or a CSS, instead of the photo.

2. Get a green hosting provider

With servers, data centers and cooling systems all consuming electricity, finding a company that uses renewable energy helps to significantly minimize the environmental impact of your website. Green web hosting is still finding its way, and finding a host that combines solid performance, good customer support, and uses renewable energy can be a challenge. Many hosting companies do not have their own data centers, which means they have less control over how those servers are run. One thing you can look for, however, is a hosting provider that has partnered with Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google links 100% of their energy consumption to renewable energy and remains committed to carbon neutrality. By using a managed WordPress host in conjunction with GCP, you are that much closer to creating a green and sustainable website! We also use servers that run on green electricity in all our online services.

3. Use lazy-loading for photos and videos

Lazy-loading means only loading images and other media as required. Only the top of the website loads immediately when a user lands on the page, but the rest only appears when they scroll down. So if a user doesn’t scroll all the way down, not all the images need to be loaded.

4. Optimize your fonts

There are technical strategies that can be used to minimize the size of fonts on websites and we have seen that even with custom fonts, this can result in a file size reduction of up to 97%. Some of these ways to reduce the size of font files are to use a modern web-font format like WOFF and WOFF2, this uses higher compression compared to TTF, OFT and SVG file formats. Another good way is to use a subset of your font, using only the actual characters you used on site.

5. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is designed to make content load faster on mobile devices by removing unnecessary code and file weight, delivering a minimalist version of the original webpage. In theory, technologies like AMP don’t really help much if the website is efficient to begin with, but in the cases where the original web pages are not as lean as they should be, AMP can be a useful tool to quickly stop and deliver a lighter and more energy efficient version for mobile users. It should also be noted that Google prioritizes AMP content in mobile search results for news-related topics in particular, so it can help increase the visibility of your content. The downside is that your content may be displayed on a Google domain and some of the things AMP has removed may be things you care about. It is a powerful tool that should be used with care.

6. SEO

SEO may seem to have nothing to do with website efficiency, but in reality, the goals of SEO are inherently linked to the goal of reducing energy consumption. When optimizing a website for search engine rankings, we help people find the information they want quickly and easily. When SEO is successful, it means that people spend less time surfing the web looking for information and fewer visiting pages that don’t meet their needs. This means that less energy is consumed and the energy that is consumed is used to deliver real value to the user.

7. Copywriting

Similar to search engine optimization, copywriting affects website efficiency because it affects the amount of time people spend browsing websites. Sometimes we want people to spend a lot of time on a website immersed in our content. What we don’t want is for people to waste their time wading through content that offers them little or no value. Therefore, clear and efficient copy writing can help reduce wasted time on the internet and in turn reduce wasted energy. We’d love to help you out with this, check out our offer on sustainable copywriting!

Would you like to see how your website scores on CO2 footprint? Take the test on the Website Carbon Calculator website.

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