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Why sustainable web design?

~ Simply, because the world needs it.

Our digital activities have become so central to our lives that the internet is now responsible for a massive 1 billion tonnes of greenhouses gases every year. It’s now a bigger polluter than the aviation industry and if the internet were a country, it would have the 7th largest national carbon footprint in the world (and rising).

As we continue, and even deepen, our reliance on digital technology (hello, AI 👋), we need to start taking responsibility for the impact it is having, and steps towards reducing it.

What can we do about it?

Here at Root Web Design Studio, we’re firm believers that a sustainably designed and built website isn’t just better for the planet; it’s better for customers and better for business.

A fast-loading, high-quality and efficient website provides a better user experience and shows up higher in search, all while being better for the planet.

Learn more about low-carbon websites on our blog: What is sustainable web design?


⚡ Tools for testing your website’s carbon footprint

The first step towards making your website more energy-efficient is knowing how much carbon it currently generates, and that means testing its credentials with a carbon calculator.

There are some fantastic free tools out there that can help you get a benchmark of your website’s current environmental impact and offer helpful tips for making improvements.

Some of our favourites are:

  • Website Carbon Calculator – Tells you how much carbon your website generates per visit, and how this compares with other web pages.
  • Digital Beacon – Generates a detailed report about your website’s emissions, as well as where improvements can be made.
  • Ecograder – Goes beyond emissions to give you an in-depth report about your website’s performance in terms of accessibility, UX, hosting and more.

Check out our full list of recommended tools in our Website carbon testers blog.


🍄 Unearthed

~ Digital sustainability news, insights and tips from around the web.

Introducing the new Web Sustainability Guidelines

As the sustainable web design movement grows, it’s been heartening to see the W3Cpublish the first draft of a new set of Web Sustainability Guidelines, which give web developers a core set of rules for designing and building websites that are better for the environment.

Two years in the making and inspired by the W3C’s equally important Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the new ‘SustyWeb’ guidance covers all aspects of website creation, promoting sustainability across Design, Development, Hosting, Business Strategy and Reporting.

Greenwashing and the COP28 website

The COP climate summit websites have a bemusing, if not altogether unsurprising, history of being massive carbon generators. And the latest, supporting the upcoming COP28 conference in the UAE, is no different.

Michelle Barker of CSS In Real Life has written an excellent, in-depth sustainability analysis of the COP28 website and its (lack of) sustainable web design practices. At the time of her review, this included a hugely bloated page weight made up of giant uncompressed images, needless tracking scripts and inefficient fonts. The icing on the rather tasteless cake was a ‘switch to low carbon version’ toggle button that didn’t actually do anything.

Reduce bot traffic to your WordPress website

When it comes to reducing the environmental impact of the Internet, every page load counts. It’s estimated that bots (such as search engine spiders that are continually checking sites for updates) are responsible for a whopping 30% of all web traffic. That adds up to a lot of wasted energy!

Earlier this year, the Yoast SEO plugin added crawl optimisation to its settings, allowing you to limit how often bots can crawl your WordPress site, and therefore how much carbon your website is responsible for. A very quick and easy win for reducing unnecessary page loads.


🪴 Grow your knowledge

~ You ask the questions, we find the answers! This month, Charlotte asks…

“As a small business owner, what can I do to keep my website’s carbon footprint down?”

Your website is a great place to start when making your business more environmentally friendly. There are lots of things you can do, either by yourself or with the help of a developer, to keep its carbon emissions to a minimum:

  • Reducing the number of images and videos on your website
  • Making sure any videos you use don’t autoplay
  • Reducing how many tracking scripts are used
  • Choosing a green hosting company
  • Writing concise and actionable copy
  • Regularly getting rid of outdated unnecessary content.

All these things will help your website to load faster, cut the amount of server energy being used, and reduce how much carbon your website is responsible for.

For more helpful tips, read our blog post: How do I make my website more eco-friendly?

Do you have a question about sustainable web design you’d like us to answer? Drop us a message and we’ll answer it in the next issue.


☀️ Other news


💚 Thank you for reading

This issue of Beneath the Surface was written by Becky Thorn and Paul Jardine. We’ll see you for issue 2 in January! ✌️

beautiful websites,
rooted in good ethics

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