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How to create a greener web with a sustainable website design

4 min read

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Every website has an impact on the environment, including yours. That’s just a fact.

How to create a greener web with a sustainable website design

If the internet were a country, it would be the world's 4th highest polluter of carbon emissions. By 2040, it’ll be the 2nd at its current expansion rate: scary stuff, but something we can all impact with more sustainable websites.

We’ve become accustomed to websites loading in under a second, and when it doesn’t, we become frustrated. We jump ship. We search for another website that’ll serve us better and faster.

A lot happens in the background when visiting a website. You don’t just need to power your device (your laptop, mobile phone, tablet). You’re activating a much bigger engine and power drain:

Data centres

Data centres process and store data and emit a lot of heat into the atmosphere, and when we say a lot, some generate enough to power a mid-sized city. There are 8,000 data centres worldwide.


Data hosting and transfer can comprise nearly 30% of your website’s digital emissions.

Telecom networks

Increasing data demands means increased carbon emissions worldwide with the introduction of technologies such as 5G.

WiFi routers

Building and maintaining mobile networks is a significant CO2 burden, especially the antennas and wireless routers that connect smartphones and tablets.

All that before a website even loads, and when it kicks in, a webpage has to render code, Javascript, plugins, scripts, font files, imagery and colour palettes, to name a few.

By the end of just one webpage load, your website’s CO2 bill is weighty. According to the online carbon calculator Website Carbon, the average web page they test produces approximately 0.5g of CO2 for every page view—how many pages does your site have?

Every website on the world wide web can lower emissions.

How to make your website sustainable

By taking a more considered approach to web design and development, it’s possible to make significant reductions in carbon emissions online to impact your business and the planet and create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly digital presence.

A more sustainable website can be optimised through the following:

  • Ensuring imagery is optimised, used where relevant and reduced where not visible
  • Removing unnecessary resources (unread articles, downloads, guides)
  • Reducing tracking scripts (Facebook Pixel, Google Tag Manager)
  • Being more mindful of colour palettes, types and font variants
  • Removing unnecessary code, Javascript and plugins
  • Streamlining user journeys (reducing dwell time!)
  • More minimalist approaches
  • Vectors and illustrations instead of images
  • Using mindful motion such as LottieFiles
  • Choosing a green hosting option
  • Reducing server requests

Being more sustainable doesn’t mean a boring, unintuitive or unfriendly website. Far from it, actually. It improves and positively affects your digital footprint and your business’s sustainability efforts. It improves website performance, speed, and search visibility and offers cleaner and better online user experiences.

How to measure your website’s sustainability

There are a couple of websites out there that will help you, but it’s impossible to get an exact number. Website Carbon Calculator and Digital Beacon are just two options. Digital Carbon Online is another useful tool to measure your entire website, not just one page.

We also use these reports to guide us, but dig deeper into the specifics. A few measurements that help us to measure your website’s sustainability include:

Time on page

The longer a user spends on a website, the better, right? Wrong! A more sustainable website should have a user journey that moves them through a website quickly, with the information they need to convert.

Page weight

This is a huge factor with bloated code, too many plugins, Javascript, and imagery that isn’t optimised—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Website traffic

Traffic levels also impact sustainability, especially considering bounce and exit rates. If users are arriving on your website and leaving just as fast, it’s putting strain on the data centres, servers and hosting.

The truth is we all need to be doing more towards sustainability, and as a digital designer, it’s not only my job but part of my moral obligation to be doing more and better for our planet.

If you’re looking to create a website for your business or redesign your current one to be more sustainable, get in touch with Abstrakt. We’d love to talk to you about making your website greener. Let’s make an impact together.

Lucy Article

Lucy Williams

A Principal UX and Digital Designer with almost two decades of experience. She loves balancing UX thinking with digital creativity to design innovative & vibrant products.

She has specialist knowledge in digital brands and sustainability.

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