Sustainable Web Development
Subject of thought by Jeremy Bierly
If you ask most people to define sustainability, they'll probably say it's about conserving resources and minimizing our impact on the environment. While this is certainly a part of it, sustainability is much broader than that. It is also about creating balance — in our lives and within the natural world — that can be maintained indefinitely into the future. After all, sustainability comes from the Latin sustinere (sub + tenere) which means "to hold up." Keeping this definition in mind, we can now think about how to make web development more sustainable.
Sustainable web development is the process of creating a website that utilizes the least amount of energy and resources to load and run.
Sustainable web development is important because it helps to reduce the load on servers and the amount of power used. It also increases your web site's speed, which can have a positive impact on user experience and conversion rates.
Optimize Images and Think About Using SVGs Where Appropriate
Use the smallest file size possible.
Make sure your images are the right size for the job.
Use the right file format. SVG is usually superior to JPEG, PNG, and GIF. Compress those raster images with a lossless compression tool (e.g., tinypng). SVGs have great browser support and tend to perform better than layered raster graphics when it comes time to display them on a website or web app.
Lazy Load Images
The user experience and initial page load performance improve by lazy loading images that are not in the viewport.
Lazy loading images defers the loading of images on a page until moments before they become visible, rather than loading them right away. These strategies aid in enhancing device performance, maximizing resource consumption, and lowering associated expenses.
Is the Image Necessary?
How about if I told you that your users don’t care about a third of your images? Probably sounds crazy, but it’s true. In fact, this has been proven in multiple studies by different companies like Chartbeat and Akamai Technologies (pdf).
So essentially what we can conclude from these studies is that around 70% of the time when someone lands on a web page it means they are actively looking at something on that page – either reading content or interacting with buttons or links within it. This makes sense considering there are many other ways people can navigate through the internet than clicking through to websites (such as opening emails or checking social media).
Be Mindful of Web Video and Use Optimal Formats
If you are going to use video on your website, then it is important that you use a player that supports video compression. The same goes for the video codec (for example, H.264).
If possible, use a CDN. This will reduce the amount of time it takes for your web pages to load by allowing them to load content from a server near where their viewers are located.
Use a minifier. Minifiers compress data for faster download speeds and smaller file sizes. They also help with code readability because they remove unnecessary characters (such as new lines) from the source code before sending it over to a browser or other client device requesting content from your site.
Optimize Web Fonts or Use CSS Font Stacks
If you need to add a font, try using a CSS font stack. Fonts are one of the biggest contributors to page size and also have some performance implications for mobile devices.
Using web fonts can also help you improve user experience by providing a better reading experience, as well as making your site feel more modern and professional. However, if you decide to go this route and include multiple fonts on your site (which is fine!), be mindful that each additional font will increase loading time and overall weight of your site’s pages.
There are several options when it comes web fonts. You can use Google Fonts or Typekit; these services host the files for you so that they don't need to be downloaded every time someone loads a page containing them (a process known as "fetching"). There are quite a few other services offering similar functionality—just search around! If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing right!
Green Hosting and CDNs
Another way to improve your website's carbon footprint is to use a web host that runs on green energy as well as using a CDN.
A content delivery network, or CDN, is a globally distributed network that serves copies of your website quickly. This is critical for long-term sustainability since transporting data around the world consumes a significant amount of energy. And the more energy it takes for data to travel a long distance, the more energy it consumes.
So, with all these lists of things you should stop using, are we saying that the web development world is doomed? No! We’re just trying to point out the ways in which you can make it more sustainable. Whether or not you implement these practices on your own sites is up to you. Just be mindful of the environment and resources when designing them – use only what you need and no more.
There are several ways to create more sustainable websites. The most important thing is to be mindful of what you're doing. You can do this by monitoring the resources you're using, and optimizing your website for sustainability.
Be mindful of what you're doing and how it impacts the environment.
Use tools to help optimize your website.