According to some estimates, the carbon footprint of the internet, our various devices, and their supporting systems add up to about 3.7% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. While many industries are searching for solutions to reduce their carbon dioxide input and increase efficiency, estimates suggest that emissions from the internet will dramatically grow in the years to come.
For this reason, many progressive businesses are looking to create green websites and web apps that work to achieve carbon-neutral status. When an individual uses the internet, the amount of electricity they are using and the carbon emissions they create are infinitesimal. However, in aggregate, it creates a substantial impact. In today's climate-conscious ecosystem, the impact of a web app on the climate cannot be ignored.
Are you wondering how you can reduce the carbon footprint of your web app to ensure that your company is a leader in creating a green internet? Read on while we give you all the important details.
Many consumers these days are very concerned with the environmental impact of the organizations they choose to do business with. Americans and people around the world are increasingly embracing eco-friendly products and sustainability, but they often require that these companies pay more than just lip service.
This is evidenced by the increasing number of corporations trying to meet the needs of consumers seeking earth-friendly products and services. For example, Adidas released a limited-edition sneaker design created using only plastic trash removed from the ocean. The nearly 7,000 pairs of sneakers sold out almost immediately after the launch.
Making your web app more sustainable doesn't just have a positive impact on the environment but also helps to earn consumer trust, increase conversions, and highlight your brand as a green leader in your industry.
So, how exactly does a web app impact the environment?
In the U.S., the three most common resources used to generate electricity are coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. Wind and solar are gaining popularity as renewable resources for producing electricity, but they still only make up a small percentage of the resources used at this point.
Most of the electricity generated in the United States comes from centralized power plants. It then has to travel through high-voltage transmission lines until consumers receive lower voltage electricity through a network of distribution lines.
Even though there's a tendency to think of electric vehicles and tools as inherently green, it's important to remember that electricity is largely produced using non-renewable resources.
According to an article published in Wired, the average website produces 1.76 grams of CO2 for every page view. This means that if a site receives 10,000 page views every month, its yearly CO2 emissions amount to 2,112 kilograms.
A site or web app will have a proportionately larger climate impact in relation to how complicated it is and how much energy it calls upon to load. When you consider just how many sites and apps there are on the internet, not to mention how many of them were designed inefficiently, you can start to see how the web could be detrimental to the desire to reduce carbon emissions.
The front end is where there is generally the highest potential for improvement in the world of carbon emissions. In addition to content, the front end also includes a wide variety of tracking scripts and tools that outline what's occurring on a website.
This aspect of your web app is essential to creating a rich user experience. However, it's also where you have the largest ability to make eco-friendly changes.
You can receive huge performance improvements by optimizing the network where your web app is hosted. Not only that, though, but it can also significantly reduce energy use. When you reduce the distance that data has to travel on a network, you also reduce how much energy is being consumed.
Both the server and the backend of websites and web apps also consume energy, contributing to carbon emissions globally. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for organizations to over-provision resources compared to their servers because operation costs have significantly reduced. However, this also results in energy that is simply wasted.
In short, yes, it is! Not only does reducing the carbon footprint of your web app become something that your brand can shout from the rooftops, but it also is inherently related to a more efficient and effective web app or site. Many of the methods that we'll outline below to improve the eco-friendliness of your web app are also best practices in the world of web app design.
Though it can mean being more deliberate in designing your web app and managing its growth, the time invested in building a sustainable web app is time well spent. You can appeal to your customers two-fold by going green. On the one hand, you can show that your brand is truly committed to protecting the environment rather than simply using it as a marketing strategy without anything to back it up. On the other hand, you can provide the best possible user experience by having web apps that perform optimally.
Now that you're convinced that it's worth reducing the carbon footprint of your web app, you're likely starting to wonder precisely what you should do to put this dream into action. Let's take a look at some of the most approachable ways that you can create an eco-friendly web app.
With so much competition online, you're likely already concerned with keeping your website speed lightning fast. There are many different components of an app that can impact how long it takes to load, which means that there are several actions you can take to increase loading times and reduce your carbon footprint.
One method you can take is known as lazy loading. This practice delays the loading of objects or resources until they are actually needed as a part of your web app performance. This can help save system resources and reduce the amount of electricity being used.
You can also use caching solutions to optimize the performance of your site. Caching stores a copy of an app's static resources on the user's device temporarily, which can significantly decrease how much energy is used by the survey and improve page load speed.
Choosing lightweight fonts over personalized and custom fonts is another way you can reduce your carbon footprint through performance optimization, as well as creating accelerated mobile pages (AMP).
One thing that can have quite the impact on your web app's carbon footprint is the host that you select. Essentially, not all web hosting providers are created equal in this regard, and you might choose to select a host that is committed to energy efficiency as well as the performance of web apps and sites.
Are you designing your web app on your own? If so, we've created a list of ten of the best tools for wireframing and prototyping.
In the back end, one of the ways that you can keep carbon emissions down is by keeping your code tidy and simple. While this is often a stated goal of website developers, it's sometimes easier said than done. The more straightforward and clean code is, the less energy is being wasted in the process of displaying a web app.
If you've been staying in tune with the evolution of the internet, you've likely noticed that it's increasingly become a multimedia experience. Humans are visual creatures, and providing visually compelling content can help keep visitors on your site longer, drive traffic to your app, and positively impact your brand.
However, if you aren't careful, including images and videos on your app can hurt your page load times and your carbon footprint.
When you include images in your web app, you'll want to utilize vector graphics and CSS whenever possible to reduce the demand for resources. It's also essential to compress your images to improve page load times.
While video can be an excellent medium to include in your app, they do demand quite a bit from the CPU of the user in terms of energy. Be thoughtful when including videos in your app if you're committed to reducing your carbon emissions, and also choose to avoid having the videos auto-play when visitors use your app.
Tracking and advertising scripts can lead to slower web apps as well as increased file sizes. If you're not careful, these scripts can lead your pages to take twice as long to load than if they weren't included.
These scripts generally don't provide much benefit to the user, though they can be very valuable to the brand. For this reason, consider balancing your company's needs in terms of monitoring scripts with the needs of the user and your desire to be an eco-friendly pioneer in your field.
How much time users spend inside navigation has a lot to do with how you design your web app navigation. The goal for user experience and web app sustainability should be to build a simple and intuitive navigation bar. You ideally want visitors to know exactly how to get to the part of your web app they're looking for without having to dig around endlessly. This can also be aided by incorporating a search bar.
You might not think that SEO has anything to do with the efficiency of a web app. However, improving your SEO doesn't just help your business grow and thrive, but it also can lead to lower energy usage.
When internet search results return appropriate web apps and sites to meet the searcher's intent, it helps to reduce the number of times that users visit pages that don't fit their needs and cut bounce rates. Your web app's efficiency can also be improved by high-quality copy.
One of the most climate-friendly types of web apps is progressive web apps. Built to run on any platform, so users have the best possible performance no matter what device they're accessing your site from, PWAs can radically reduce how much data is loaded thanks to chasing files on the user's device.
Are you starting to think about the design of your web app? Check out these modern examples of clean web app design for inspiration.
When you build a brand, your primary objective is to offer a product or service that solves a problem for your target demographic. If your audience is concerned with the effects of human activity on the environment, reducing the carbon footprint of your web app can be a compelling reason for potential customers to choose you over your competition. Consumers are often concerned with the actual steps that companies are taking to do their part in working towards a sustainable future, and being a pioneer in the creation of a greener internet can have a powerful impact on the awareness and growth of your brand.
At the same time, creating a green web app also goes hand in hand with optimizing its performance. This means that in addition to helping support the future of our global environment, you are also reaping the benefits of better search engine rankings, faster load times, fewer page bounces, increased conversions, and more.
Is it time for you to create your new web app with sustainability in mind? Our globally distributed team of experts specializes in helping our clients turn a great idea into a reality. If so, feel free to reach out and tell us about your project. We're experienced in creating top-shelf apps for a wide variety of industries, and we're more than happy to discuss your idea with you.
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