Steps to make your website greener.

This post is the first in a series I will be writing about making your website more lean and green. Working with One Tree has sent me down the rabbit hole of environmentally friendly websites and I will be sharing some practical steps you can take to make the web more tree friendly.

Step One – Host your site on a green server.

When was the last time you thought about where your website is hosted? If you have thought about it in the past 12 months I’d bet it was for one of two reasons:

  • You had to pay your renewal invoice
  • Your site went offline

Website hosting just isn’t something most people give any thought. It isn’t a very sexy subject and it kind of happens in the background. If you have ever built a website, you’ll know the time and effort that goes into the process. Hosting is often an after thought. So long as your provider is reliable and economical then who cares what the company name on your invoice is?

I would implore you to think of another aspect; the environmental impact of your website. Servers are switched on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so that your clients can always access your site. If you will excuse the clumsy metaphor, it’s like having a television in your house, that is permanently turned on, just incase someone wants to watch the news. You would think about that telly if it was always switched on, wouldn’t you?

The television is a clumsy metaphor because you turn your TV off and on as you need it. You know when you are going to watch it and how to use the remote. Leaving it on all the time would be a bit weird.

Websites on the other hand have to be left turned on all the time. You don’t know who is going to look at it, when they will want to and how long they will want to browse. They need to be accessible at all times to work properly. Even French websites don’t shut down for two hours during lunch time.

That means your site’s server is always switched on. It uses electricity whether someone is browsing your site or not. That is a lot of resource to keep your site accessible 24 hours a day.

If you have got this far, thank you, I’ll be finished soon. Are you thinking about how your site is hosted yet? Great, welcome to my world!

Hopefully you are now wondering about your site’s environmental impact, perhaps for the first time. How do you assess that and work out what to do? A great first step is to use an online tool to analyse your website.

For onetreeatatime.fr I used Ecograder. It’s a simple tool, designed by B Corp certified web designers Mighty Bytes.

All you do is put your sites URL into the field and click Grade Me (ignore any school related anxiety related to that phrase) and wait for the results.

Must do better. See Andy after class

When I checked onetreeatatime.fr the results were about as expected. Middle of the pack, not bad but not where we want to be. A little further reading on the Ecograder told me the obvious thing. Hosting the site on a green hosting service would make the biggest impact.

After consultation with Gav we decided to move the site (and all the sites I host) to a company called Krystal. They run all their servers on 100% renewable electricity from sources like the sun, wind and sea. They have an awesome support team and they are cheaper than many of their competitors. Cheaper, greener and better service. An easy decision.

After moving the site to to Krystal we checked back with Ecograder and lo and behold we had a better score, had saved money (which means more trees) and the site is now 100% run on renewables. Not a bad mornings work.

Better but work to do

For me, moving your site to a green server is a no brainer. In fact it’s something I could help you with. Sitegeist Web Services offers a full hosting service where I look after the administration of your site, act as your help desk and tech support and occasionally look after your dog*.

*Dog sitting service only open to Sitegeist customers that own a dog and live within 10km of my house

Hosting through Sitegeist isn’t for everyone though. I’d like to look after all your hosting needs but appreciate that the full service is not appropriate for all sites. However I do believe that everyone who has a website should be thinking about the impact of their online presence.

If you want to move your site to a green server and still administer it yourselves I can help with that too. For a small fee I can help you navigate the process. I can talk to your providers’ help desk, make the process run as smoothly as possible, minimise site downtime and stress for all involved.

Drop me an email to sitegeistwebservices@gmail.com with the title “Help me make my website greener please Andy” and we can get the ball rolling.

The next step for onetreeatatime.fr

If you look carefully at the results from Ecograder you’ll see that onetreeatatime.fr still has some areas to work on, particularly site speed and search engine optimisation. We’ve made some small improvements on the site speed in recent weeks but have a bit further to go yet. My next post on the process will be all about site speed. Bet you can’t wait.

Andy

P.S. If you aren’t already using Ecosia as your preferred search engine you should be! Ecosia plants trees for every search you make on their service. All you have to do is not use google. DO IT!

A quick note on the format of my blog posts

You might notice that I haven’t put a banner image at the top of this post. In fact my posts will be generally be pretty low on imagery.

This is because I’m trying to keep my posts as resource light as possible. Hosting an image, even a well optimised one, is more costly resource wise than text. It’s something we’ll be working on as we upgrade onetreeatatime.fr.

Hopefully I will be able to paint pictures with words đŸ˜‰

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