The way the agency world builds websites just isn't sustainable.
In celebration of Earth Day, we’ve turned off our own website and created this low-impact replacement. Why? Well, while there’s been a measurable drop in the type of emissions we usually think about due to COVID-19, the amount of “digital emissions”—that is, the energy consumed by using the internet—has skyrocketed.
Currently, the internet consumes as much energy as the entirety of the UK, between 2% and 3% of global energy usage. And every ambient video, CMS, full-bleed hero image, and complex design and animation we put out there contributes to this issue.
But there is another way. A more sustainable way to create for the web.
A few (relevant) ways unsustainable digital emissions are created.
Too much white
While lovely in design, white draws more energy than any other color to render.
Moving pictures and color contrast
Websites that employ lots of color contrast, animations, videos, etc., obviously consume more energy than not. In fact, a site like this netting 10K pageviews a month produces more emissions than a flight from London to Tokyo.
Those detail pages that take four clicks to ever know they exist aren’t just a bad experience—their existence literally hurts the planet.
Unnecessary server usage
Do your brands really need dynamic pages that are rebuilt every time they’re served? Like, really-really?
Aside from newsrooms, most sites don’t need up-to-the-minute content editing capabilities. The company blog post can go live tomorrow.
It's no surprise that streamlining code requires less processing—and less power—to render websites.
How agencies should build.
Get rid of servers when possible
Building static sites via Jamstack removes servers (and their energy usage) from the equation.
Code and design with sustainability in mind
Images, videos, color contrast, whitespace, animations, CMS, sloppy code—they all burn energy and should be employed sparingly and mindfully.
Optimize your site (and the ones you create)
Unoptimized websites can create so much carbon (through energy waste) that it can take 50+ trees to absorb the yearly emissions.
Things we can all do.
Turn cameras off
Yes, during the last year it’s been nice to see other people’s faces, but live video consumes an enormous amount of energy and typically doesn’t contribute to the success of a meeting.
Close those 10,000 tabs
Many of those tabs you aren’t looking at are dynamically updating in the background, drawing considerable power for literally no reason.
Clean up your email
Every piece of mail sitting in your inbox requires computing power and electricity.