Sustainable Web Design - committing to do better

We can reduce the footprint and damage caused by our digital solutions by adopting a more thoughtful approach to design and development.

Committing to sustainable web design

At Symphony3 we used to tell ourselves that we were in a sector that was good for the planet by virtue of bringing products and services into the digital world.

However, a recent Connected Citizen webinar we ran with Gerry McGovern on Digital Waste opened our eyes to the damage digital technologies and the internet are inflicting on the environment.  Every email we send, every web page we create, every social media comment we post uses resources and generates carbon emissions. Not to mention the pollution caused by the devices we use to access digital services.

The scale of the challenge we face with digital waste is immense and growing (listen to Gerry’s webinar here).

While the internet may be digital, it carries a very physical cost. The images we use, the coding languages we choose to work with, and the servers we host on; all these choices impact the electricity we consume and the carbon we emit.

We can reduce the footprint and damage caused by our digital solutions by adopting a more thoughtful approach to design and development.

As an organisation we are proud to work with organisations who are committed to sustainability. This includes product stewardship and circular economy organisations (Paintback), manufacturing companies that are committed to sustainable practices (Geofabrics), and local governments who have adopted zero emission goals (Glen Eira). They inspire us to do better.

We recently added sustainability as a core value we want to live by. One of the ways we can make a difference is to work with our clients to deliver sustainable digital experiences that are built on sustainable web design practices. At Symphony3 we must look to design waste out of our solutions.

Some sustainable web design practices we have being following for many years, others we are just starting, and others we have yet to undertake. We are not professing to be perfect; we are simply saying we are committing to trying harder.

If you are a client or a prospective client please push us to be more sustainable. We promise to push you to build more sustainable websites, portals and intranets.

Sustainability Art


What does sustainable web design look like?

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The team at mightybytes (We love their blogs!) list 4 key areas of sustainable web design which we have quoted below. (These are practices we already follow when making websites more user friendly)

  1. Web Performance Optimization: How quickly do assets download to a user’s device?
  2. Content Findability: How quickly can users find the content they need? And how useful is that content once it’s found?
  3. Usability: How quickly can all users accomplish tasks across devices and platforms at various bandwidth speeds?
  4. Green Web Hosting: Are the servers hosting your digital products and services powered by renewable energy?

Getting started

So how can you get started and begin to improve? Again we agree with the folk at Mighty Bytes and suggest the following simple approach.

  1. Understand where you are now: Use the Website Carbon Calculator from Wholegrain Digital. This will give you an understanding of how your site is currently performing.
  2. Set a goal of where you’d like to be. Outline what improvements you would like to have in place in the future.
  3. Develop a plan. Running a tool like the Google Lighthouse audit tool can help you identify areas for improvement.
  4. Start making changes. Prioritise areas for improvement and incrementally work your way through the list. Tools like Google Lighthouse or MightyBytes' Ecograder are also valuable to assess your progress.
  5. Review: Measure your performance quarterly or six monthly to see how you are improving.

To discuss how we can help you make your web design more sustainable get in touch today.