In the following, I’ve listed a few interesting articles for summer reading. Some try to differentiate sustainability from WPO, while others show how to get the low-hanging fruit of basic WPO into sites.
Improving Website Performance, non WPO
We still have a problem differentiating web sustainability from simple Web Performance optimization. Here are a couple of articles which discuss non-WPO aspects of web design, development, and delivery.
Recent book written on improving web site performance. A big virtue: not written as a WPO book for server or developer specialists.
In particular, I like the emphasis on the problems with “frameworks” – big, one size fits all systems that can, if misused, bloat pages and slow down access. The author calls it the “shiny new things” syndrome – like physical design, it’s worth remember that nearly all “shiny new things” increase, rather than decrease resource and energy consumption.
The Web Index
Another way to measure efficiency beyond WPO is to look at how effective websites are at accomplishing their online mission. The Web Index, created by WWW founder Tim Berners-Lee, is the first iteration of such a measure.
Instead of WPO, the following Human Factors are considered
- Universal Access (part of all sustainability frameworks)
- Relevant content (tailored for the national audience)
- Freedom and Openness (support for a diversity of information from many sources)
- Impact and Empowerment (whether the web is creating positive change)
If you’re trying to access your site’s sustainability, such human factors can buffer basic WPO concerns. For example, if you’re operating a site with a lot of polyfills enabling old browsers you might get a low WPO score. However, if those polyfills are letting more people in countries with a low Web Index use the Net productively, score up for overall sustainability.
A new, related index was created by Simon Anholt, “The Good Country Index.” It attempts to compute how valuable a country is to its citizens and the larger world, using metrics similar to The Web Index.
Here are the rankings – compare to The Web Index
We’re already mentioned EcoGrader in earlier posts
Here’s a research paper describing another tool, Green Analytics, which grades websites according to carbon release.
The most interesting aspect of this project is that it tries to include the indirect impact a website has on a user’s carbon footprint, by applying Google Analytics data to their browsing history. Combined with the Web Index, one could make a very interesting measure of sustainability.
The actual site is at the following URL (not working Jul 8)
Integration tools for people who don’t spend all day in the command line are always welcome, esp. on the Mac
While WPO isn’t the whole story, it is important. Here’s an article on website optimization for responsive sites. As the article points, out, responsive designs are often less efficient than other designs, so special attention has to be paid to the basics.
Related information from Smashing on optimizing for mobile
Another interesting, though highly technical) article on optimizing the use of webfonts from Ilya Grigorik. Different browsers handle webfont rendering more differently than one might expect!
Since WordPress is one of the biggest “bloatware” problems on the web, a reminder that there are some plugins which improve WP performance:
- A plugin implementing Yahoo! Smush-it to automatically optimize your web images
- More ideas for speeding up WordPress
When Increasing Energy Use is Good (Game-Driven Exercise)
Usually, we want to reduce energy expenditures. The exception is when a device, app, or program encourages users to exercise. Such hinting is part and parcel of the Quantified Self movement and “Exergaming“. But to count this as a “green” feature (meaning the audience is healthier, therefore places less pressure on medical services) we have to have a way to compute this “good” footprint. The following article offers just such a way: