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How might we design websites to use less energy and produce less carbon?

Digital design strategies to reduce carbon emissions, improve inclusivity, and foster sustainable user behaviour

How might we design websites to use less energy and produce less carbon?

Digital design strategies to reduce carbon emissions, improve inclusivity, and foster sustainable user behaviour

About

Every web page visited, image loaded, video streamed, online purchase made, information submitted, and backend system call generated by online activity requires energy to power and process the data flowing between devices, network systems, servers and back again, many times over—all of which emit CO2.

Information Communication Technology (computers, phones, and TVs) are now responsible for far more greenhouse gas emissions than the aviation industry.

The best place to start reducing the emissions from digital products and channels is to check options for green web hosting.

Green hosting

Simply altering your choice of hosting can make a significant impact

Assess your websites

Use online tools to assess the current state of your website, set a benchmark, and get tips to improve.

  • Ecograder provides a score out of 100 for websites and provides advice on how to improve sustainability via performance, find-ability, and UX—ecograder.com↗
  • The Website Carbon Calculator estimates the carbon footprint of web pages and provides tips to improve—websitecarbon.com↗
  • To aid continuous improvements, ‘Ecoping’ is an analytics tool to track website carbon emissions—ecoping.earth↗
  • web provide reports on the performance of a page and provides suggestions on how it may be improved— pagespeed.web.dev↗

There is a lot to improving the sustainability of digital experiences, and much of it is to do with minimising code use and system structures. But there are also numerous strategies that the designers can implement to reduce the energy used by systems and users.

Get started with design

  • Optimise content
    • Use images, videos, custom fonts, and animations sparingly
    • Optimise videos and images using tools like tinypng.com ↗
    • For images, use WebP or AVIF format for complex images like photos, and PNG or GIF for simple images like logos
    • For video, use WebM instead of MP4 and GIF—WebM has higher compression, so its quality may not be as good as MP4, but it should be acceptable
    • For graphics, Use SVGs and sprite sheets
  • Minimise styling
  • Design for mobile first
  • Maximise user journey efficiency
  • Minimise emails and communications
  • Encourage sustainable behaviour
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Articles & Projects

Sustainable digital design

Inclusive digital design

Sustainable User behaviour

Design Tools

All the tools you need:

About

Every web page visited, image loaded, video streamed, online purchase made, information submitted, and backend system call generated by online activity requires energy to power and process the data flowing between devices, network systems, servers and back again, many times over—all of which emit CO2.Information Communication Technology (computers, phones, and TVs) are now responsible for far more greenhouse gas emissions than the aviation industry.The best place to start reducing the emissions from digital products and channels is to check options for green web hosting.

Green hosting

Simply altering your choice of hosting can make a significant impact

Assess your websites

Use online tools to assess the current state of your website, set a benchmark, and get tips to improve.

  • Ecograder provides a score out of 100 for websites and provides advice on how to improve sustainability via performance, find-ability, and UX—ecograder.com
  • The Website Carbon Calculator estimates the carbon footprint of web pages and provides tips to improve—websitecarbon.com
  • To aid continuous improvements, ‘Ecoping’ is an analytics tool to track website carbon emissions—ecoping.earth
  • web provide reports on the performance of a page and provides suggestions on how it may be improved— pagespeed.web.dev

There is a lot to improving the sustainability of digital experiences, and much of it is to do with minimising code use and system structures. But there are also numerous strategies that the designers can implement to reduce the energy used by systems and users.

  • Optimise content
    • Use images, videos, custom fonts, and animations sparingly
    • Optimise videos and images using tools like tinypng.com
    • For images, use WebP or AVIF format for complex images like photos, and PNG or GIF for simple images like logos
    • For video, use WebM instead of MP4 and GIF—WebM has higher compression, so its quality may not be as good as MP4, but it should be acceptable
    • For graphics, Use SVGs and sprite sheets
  • Minimise styling
  • Design for mobile first
  • Maximise user journey efficiency
  • Minimise emails and communications
  • Encourage sustainable behaviour

Sustainable digital design

Inclusive digital design

Sustainable User behaviour

Links

Explore free tools and more

The Life-centred Design Lab website dashboard

Create a free account to access LCD tools, free guides, videos, and more

Take the lead

Life-centred design aligns designers and businesses with global goals, and gives them the skills to respond to today’s wicked problems in practical and measurable ways.

#2 Amazon Best Seller in Engineering Design, Dec ’22

“The ideas really resonated with me as I’ve felt this growing unease with human centred design’s echo chamber”

“Super helpful tools for designers… I’ll be sharing them with the students.”

“An amazing book about the topic.”

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For every amperage this site pulls from the grid, GreenGeeks web hosting returns 3 times as much renewable energy to the grid—learn about green hosting.

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Damien Lutz, author of The Non-human Persona Guide, The Life-centred Design Guide, and Future Scouting

We replenish what we use

A percentage of profits from design guides by Damien Lutz are donated to onetreeplanted.org to replace the trees used to create the books

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Lifecentred.design aims to be low carbon, inclusive, and regenerative

This site's hosting is green

Energy used by the web hosting servers is offset by 3 times as much renewable energy returned to the grid

100 trees planted!

To regenerate trees used to make my books, I donate a percentage of sales from lifecentred.design and futurescouting.com.au to onetreeplanted.org

Page CO2 emissions
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Sustainable web strategies are used to reduce page load emissions. Current industry standard is 0.5g/page view—all lifecentred.design pages are under

Page accessibility rating
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Pages are designed for accessible use and rated out of 100

More about my commitments | Suggest an improvement

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Lifecentred.design aims to be low carbon, inclusive, and regenerative

This site's hosting is green

Energy used by the web hosting servers is offset by 3 times as much renewable energy returned to the grid

100 trees planted!

To regenerate trees used to make my books, I donate a percentage of sales from lifecentred.design and futurescouting.com.au to onetreeplanted.org

Page CO2 emissions
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Sustainable web strategies are used to reduce page load emissions. Current industry standard is 0.5g/page view—all lifecentred.design pages are under

Page accessibility rating
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Pages are designed for accessible use and rated out of 100

More about my commitments | Suggest an improvement

This will close in 0 seconds

Lifecentred.design aims to be low carbon, inclusive, and regenerative

This site's hosting is green

Energy used by the web hosting servers is offset by 3 times as much renewable energy returned to the grid

100 trees planted!

To regenerate trees used to make my books, I donate a percentage of sales from lifecentred.design and futurescouting.com.au to onetreeplanted.org

Page CO2 emissions
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Sustainable web strategies are used to reduce page load emissions. Current industry standard is 0.5g/page view—all lifecentred.design pages are under

Page accessibility rating
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Pages are designed for accessible use and rated out of 100

More about my commitments | Suggest an improvement

This will close in 0 seconds

Lifecentred.design aims to be low carbon, inclusive, and regenerative

This site's hosting is green

Energy used by the web hosting servers is offset by 3 times as much renewable energy returned to the grid

100 trees planted!

To regenerate trees used to make my books, I donate a percentage of sales from lifecentred.design and futurescouting.com.au to onetreeplanted.org

Page CO2 emissions
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Sustainable web strategies are used to reduce page load emissions. Current industry standard is 0.5g/page view—all lifecentred.design pages are under

Page accessibility rating
Shown for high-traffic pages only

Pages are designed for accessible use and rated out of 100

More about my commitments | Suggest an improvement

This will close in 0 seconds