Great New Summary of Sustainable Web Design


There have been a LOT of descriptions of “how to do sustainable web” over the years, mine included, some easier to read and use than others.

However, none of these websites follow a simple problem-solution description. While they discuss sustainability at a high level, or list the ideas and theories, they don’t simply organize their information so a practicing designer or UXer could quickly incorporate their ideas with a short read. This isn’t because designers suffer from the bogus reports of ever-shorter attention spans (though increasingly shallow thinking may be a reality for hyperconnected users). It’s because modern web, app, XR and IoT design have ever-greater volumes of information associated with them.

Enter a great new site from Gerrit Schuster which summarizes most of the common techniques needed to create and improve sustainable websites,

https://nachhaltiges-webdesign.jetzt/ (note: don’t use sustainable-webdesign.jetzt)

The beauty of this site is that it is organized along sustainable information architecture principles.

The home page organizes the main topics provides a summary of positive vs. negative – addressing the problem of sustainability.

The remaining part of the page organizes the solutions, and provides greaterdetail for each class of sustainability principles. Both upstream (“questioning the business model”) and downstream WPO (“use caching techniques”) are addressed.

Each of the iconic cards leads to greater detail. A second, longer summary of what you can do, with a further list of specific actions you can take.

https://nachhaltiges-webdesign.jetzt/natur-umwelt-integrieren/

This is really great Information Architecture. Information Architecture, in my opinion, is a cornerstone of sustainability. I

Aside from sustainability, this site is a showcase for what good Information Architecture can accomplish. You really don’t need a bunch of bells and whistles to get your information across, nor do you need to be “entertained” to keep reading.

Good IA means that you’re site doesn’t need additional bandwidth-hogging cruft to keep the user focused on the fuzzy and complex topic of sustainable design. If you’ve got your information designed properly, you don’t need lots of images, videos, animation, complex interactive JavaScript to send a message.

Gerrit’s site is exceptional in that it actually “walks the walk” for web sustainability – it has a footprint smaller than 96% of existing websites, according to Lighthouse (Chrome Extension). That’s better than this site (WordPress), and the other sites I cited earlier. I tried Gerrit’s site in EcoGrader, and it complained about not using shared resources (e.g. cloud version of jQuery), but this doesn’t seem like a big hit, since the other scores are so high. It also is low in findability – but it’s a new site, so no surprise there.

One unfortunate issue – the site lists an english-isized version of the actual domain server, which must be typed in German. If you type “sustainable-webdesign.jetzt” in, you will fail. You need to use the German. The translate option should not affect the URL listing at the top of the home page.

https://nachhaltiges-webdesign.jetzt

The only other thing I wish for here is some discussion on how to integrate sustainability into the early-stage documents provided to clients – project proposals, UX strategy, and the like. Also, “setting consistent sustainability metrics” like the Web Index (discussed at https://wordpress.com/post/sustainablevirtualdesign.wordpress.com/2090) would be a plus.

Right now, 10 years after I started writing about web sustainability, it still comes in as an afterthought – the web dev or SEO/WPO people design for sustainability. It remains more designer politics and posturing than action. It’s not mentioned or included for the client in documents.

With the renewed interest in sustainability in 2021, that’s a mistake.

And, if you need to direct a client or stakeholder to a “sustainable web” page while pushing a sustainable strategy, this is the site for you. Thanks, Gerrit!

1 Comment

  1. Hey Pete!

    Love this and thanks for the mentions. It’s always great to see a post from you in my inbox.

    We have a Client & Project Ethos section on the SWD site that covers some of the issues you mentioned regarding sustainable digital project strategies. Like you mentioned, however, I haven’t run across document templates for other strategy-based engagements. If you know any, please share and I’ll add them to the site.

    That said, at Mightybytes we do try to include sustainability in decks and proposals wherever possible. I’m a firm believer that product & project managers need to get on board with SWD in order to make this happen. It can’t just be designers or developers.

    Also, Tom has an entire chapter of his book dedicated to selling sustainable web design, but its focus is purely on the challenges inherent to selling this approach. Again, no docs or templates.

    This resource from the Institute for Sustainable IT in Europe should be on your radar as well:

    https://gr491.isit-europe.org/en/

    It’s not as well-designed as Gerrit’s site, but includes the same card-based approach. It also has an entire section devoted to strategy. I also like that it focuses on responsible practices, not just reducing emissions. We’ve evolved our sustainability approach to include social and economic factors alongside environmental . I worked with a bunch of academics in Europe to devise seven core principles for more ethical and responsible digital practices. I believe this is the next evolution of digital sustainability.

    Finally, we’re in the process of updating Ecograder so its carbon calculation formulas align with Website Carbon, Ecoping.earth, and others based on this methodology: https://sustainablewebdesign.org/calculating-digital-emissions/

    It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Our hope is to make it a more actionable tool, possibly a SaaS product eventually, and a WordPress plugin. We’re a small agency so funding is tough to come by. We’re starting a foundation to help with this. We shall see. 🤞

    Anyway, lots happening in this space now! I hope you’re well and navigating 2021 as best as can be expected.

    Tim

    On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 5:36 PM Sustainable Virtual Design wrote:

    > pindiespace posted: ” There have been a LOT of descriptions of “how to do > sustainable web” over the years, mine included, some easier to read and use > than others. Some are essays, like Tim Frick’s recent update of Sustainable > Website Design on MightyBytes. Some are man” >

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