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Future websites are climate friendly. As a modern company or organisation, it is necessary to recognise how much CO2 a web solution emits. It concerns community spirit, economy and branding, and considering website emissions will help reduce your website's response time, which can be read in Core Web Vitals. It also improves your chances of a higher Google ranking. Besides that, the users will have an easier time finding the right content because a sustainable website will have fewer pages to navigate.
We provide you with 6 steps on how considering emissions can be combined with the development and operation of your website.
A website's most considerable direct Co2 consumption derives from the server. Therefore, you have come a long way on the road to climate friendliness if your website is hosted in a hosting centre that uses 100% green power.
The shorter the physical distance between the server and the user, the lower the environmental impact. If your website primarily aims at users in Denmark, then a hosting center in Denmark is far more climate friendly than a hosting center abroad.
If a web page is made up of many components, the page may require more resources from the server. And if the content has to be fetched from several sources, it can be difficult for the server to generate the page.
The server can be set up to use caching on the entire page or parts of the content. Caching means that once the server has generated a page, it stores it in a temporary file. Thus, the next time a user asks for the same page, the server won't have to generate the page again. It is only necessary when the underlying content is updated. Therefore, it is a good idea to consider how often you will update the content on the page from other sources.
The weight of a web page is measured in megabytes (MB). The fewer MB that needs to be transferred, the better. Alongside the server being powered by green energy, the site's weight is where you can optimise the most. Textual content weighs very little, so the most sustainable way to bring any message on your website is by text. An A4 page of text corresponds to 2.5 kilobytes (KB). On the other hand, an image takes up from 200 – 400 KB, depending on the size. You can reduce the weight of images using new image formats, such as WebP, without affecting the quality. But even a well-optimised image cannot compare to text if you think emissions. For every 25 kb a picture weighs, you can write 10 A4 pages of text.
Thus, to minimise the environmental impact of your site, you should reduce the number of decorative images and only use images when it supports the message. As a replacement for decorative images, it is often possible to use icons or other graphics written as code. Video and other "rich content", such as maps, are the biggest culprits when discussing a page's weight, but this content is also often what sells the message best. It is possible to create exciting pages without the use of video and large images, though it places demands on the editor and designer.
In most organisations, there are procedures for approving pages, but a process for determining whether a page is no longer relevant often needs to be included. Not reviewing and removing your content once in a while turns good content into irrelevant content, and the larger the number of pages, the more energy is needed. Thus, reviewing the content and removing pages regularly is essential and user-friendly.
Analytics and marketing scripts monitor the user's actions and register the slightest mouse movement, which requires a lot of power on the user's PC. Sometimes you can even hear that the fan in the PC starts when you visit a website that feeds on ads and therefore tracks users to an extreme degree.
The user's screen uses less energy when the colour contrast in images is reduced. Images with less contrast also occupy less space than images with many colours. Dark and black colours require much less power than light and white, and if the design is based on dark colours, the PCs will use less energy to display the website. Dark Mode is a newer trend that means inverting the colours on the screen. For example, if the primary colour is white, it will change to black. Dark Mode is a more extreme measure on most websites, but some sites offer it as an option for users who use dark mode on their PC or Mac.