Graphic of three people constructing a website against a green background
Nik Roberts
Nik Roberts
12th Nov 2021

Greener websites: taking the green initiative in digital

Like all businesses, we're working hard to reduce our environmental impact. The time for ‘business as usual’ is behind us, and at Versantus we want to help our customers reduce the carbon footprint of their digital assets. Of course there's a moral obligation to look after our planet, but, if you rely heavily on digital channels to do business, there's a financial benefit too.

By thinking about your environmental impact you can save money, increase audience engagement, and see a direct improvement at the bottom line. For digital businesses, it's less greenwashing, and more common sense.

So where do you start?

Review your current impact

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You don’t know what you don’t know, so to start with, we suggest spending some time getting a clear understanding of the impact you're having now. Some things to consider are:

What's your remote working strategy?

Are your team currently working 5-days a week in the office? Perhaps you’ve taken on a hybrid approach to include remote working as part of your team’s work week. Moving away from the traditional 9 - 5, Mon - Fri, means less overall commuters clogging up roads to get into work. Less unsustainable travel = happier planet.

Destinations of meetings - regular long-distance travel or remote meetings?

We can be just as productive, if not more so, in remote meetings as we are in physical ones. In their New Future of Work report, Microsoft found that participants wanted to keep certain meeting-specific features, like agendas and time to agree on post-meeting actions, a part of business processes post-pandemic; these processes make it easier for teams to work remotely without sacrificing productivity.

The transition from long-distance travel to a hybrid or remote meeting approach is the easiest it’s ever been; you can now save time and fuel without negotiating on building better customer relationships.

How green is your website?

Users prefer faster websites, and search engines like to give users what they want; Google, Bing, and Duck Duck Go all love faster websites. The good news is that many of the techniques used to speed up a website also reduce its carbon footprint.

Say what? A website has a carbon footprint?!

Well, yes.

Websites run on web servers and databases, and web browsers are used to present information to the user; all of these computers and databases use energy, and the smaller and faster the website is, the less energy it will use. By making your website faster, you're also likely to be making it greener.

If you want to know how green your website currently is, you can now calculate its carbon results (Versantus is cleaner than 56% of the tested web!).

The impact on having a faster, higher performing website can also translate into higher Core Web Vitals scores. These scores are key organic search ranking factors, so improved performance can equate to higher rankings, increased traffic, and a wider organic reach for your website.

Things to look for when optimising your site for speed and carbon footprint

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  • Image sizes and volume: larger means more storage, download time, and time to display on a user's computer

  • Popups, trackers, and other interactive elements: these can all add 'weight' to the page, making it slower for users and tougher on the planet. Do you really need that extra advertising banner that flashes every 20 seconds?

  • Time for a dark mode: like your phone, you'll have seen some websites now offer a 'dark mode', which usually darkens the page to make it easier on the eye when viewing the screen at night. The wacky thing is, this also reduces the energy needed to light the pixels on a user's screen (black pixels are 'off' so a dark background uses less energy than a light background)

  • Website hosting: by choosing a website hosting company that makes use of green electricity, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint

If you need help with any of these changes, give us a call on 01865 422 112.

Offsetting your emissions

Humans - and websites - have an unavoidable negative impact on the environment. Until viable renewable and sustainable strategies are widely used - both domestically and in business - we need to accept that we can’t escape some degree of emissions.

For those who have digital at the heart of their business offering, the emissions from servers, coding, and even sending emails adds up; you can offset this by donating to organisations like Ecologi that plant trees, restore natural lands for mangrove growth, and support renewable energy like Waste-to-Energy (WtE) initiatives.

Equally, you can get involved in schemes like the UK’s SME Climate Hub; businesses are joining together to offset and reduce their emissions, as well as brainstorming better business practices that consider the environment.

Offsetting won't lower your carbon emissions, but well-planned and run schemes do go some way to helping with climate change.

Websites shouldn’t cost the earth

Hosting, performance, and business processes shouldn’t cost us the health of our planet. With the earth’s vital signs warning us of more extreme weather events, and areas of our globe becoming uninhabitable, websites shouldn’t cost the earth.

We can choose greener for the same, or less, cost, helping to increase business bottom line whilst putting our planet first.

Looking to have a greener digital presence? Talk to us about your site!

We can review your current digital solution and suggest how to greenify it, reducing your impact on the environment in the process 💚

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