Until recently I hadn’t given much thought to how much of an environmental impact a website could have.
As a web designer I try to build sites that look good across a range of screen and device sizes, load quickly and are easy to find on search engines. Add things like user experience, visitor conversions and bounce rates and the list of things to consider for a website starts getting quite long. It’s fair to say that the eco credentials of sites that I’ve built have been low down on the agenda.
Having been an early supporter of what Gav and co were trying to do with One Tree at a Time I was happy to give them a hand with getting their site up and running ready for the launch weekend. Like a lot of projects the team had chosen to use WordPress as a platform and a simple paid for theme to help them tell their story. As often happens a paid for theme can be a little restrictive so I came on board to help customise things a little bit and add some additional functionality.
During this process Gav and I began discussing the environmental impact of a website and the internet in general and a question kept popping up. How do we make onetreeatatime.fr as eco friendly as possible? What does an eco friendly site look like and how to you minimise the impact of a site without compromising it’s functionality and usability?
That question is one that we are going to be exploring in the coming months. As a starting point we made the site as it stands as fit for purpose as possible. This included making sure that images are not too large, minimising the file sizes of the website and using some simple to use software to make the site’s footprint as small as possible.
The biggest improvement we made was the most simple, switching to an eco friendly web host. By using a carbon neutral web host who uses renewable energy sources to power their servers onetreeatatime.fr became more eco-friendly over night. But we can’t stop there…
We are now engaged in an experiment to make the site fit the ethos of the project. Make it sustainable, eco friendly and reduce it’s impact. If a shop, chalet company or a ski instructor can work to reduce waste and increase efficiencies then why can’t a website be built on the same principles?
I will be working with Gav and the team and documenting the process to share what we find, what compromises we have to make and how we make onetreeatatime.fr a green haven on the internet.
Wish us luck!