Sustainable Web Design

“If the Internet was a country, it would be the 7th largest polluter.”
— from the Sustainable Web Manifesto 

Using the Internet is bad for the environment?

It’s astonishing how much carbon is emitted due to Internet usage. Before I get into the why and how of that, let me say that there are so many benefits to having the Internet and people are so addicted to using it that we are not going to get people to stop using it. How long do you think it will take to get all the gasoline vehicles off the roads and shut down all the fossil fuel power plants?

Therefore, it makes sense to be more conscious and more sensible about how we do things online and its connection to the environment.

No-code website solutions like WordPress, Wix, et al, are very popular, templated, easy to use, inexpensive, and terrible for the environment. Look at which calculates the carbon scores for websites.

No-code websites are pre-packaged with almost all the functionality the designer thinks you might want to use. Most people don’t use all that functionality, which means it has a lot of unnecessary code and therefore emits more carbon.

start from scratch?

An article in Forbes magazine is about why web designers need to think about “sustainable web design.” The quote I started with -“If the Internet was a country, it would be the 7th largest polluter.” – comes from the Sustainable Web Manifesto. Designing a sustainable website isn’t easy for the average person. For example, to make cleaner, lighter code, you need to build from scratch. Even professional web designers use templates these days.

My Poets Online website was built from scratch, so I ran a test and the result is “Hurrah! This web page is cleaner than 84% of web pages tested.” That’s good. Next, I ran the test on this WordPress website, which is built from a template, and the result is “Uh oh! This web page is dirtier than 69% of web pages tested.” Not good.

What can I do to make it greener? Rebuilding it from scratch is unlikely to happen. I just don’t have the time. I have 11 of my own websites/blogs and I have six clients for whom I manage websites. Your best opportunity is to go green when you start a new website.

But there’s also the hosting. A hosting company that uses renewable energy to power its websites is better. I don’t know what WordPress uses.

You can use as little video as possible since they make a site slower and a bigger drain. The same goes for images. Smaller is better. Do you use a png that is 3500 pixels wide but resize it online to 400 px? Then just upload a 400 px version instead.

Remove unnecessary code. That is easier said than done and especially difficult for someone using templated sites. In fact, messing with the code may not even be possible. Squarespace hides the code pretty well and one reason is that you can change a line or two and wreck your entire site if you don’t really know how to code.

The first step in greener websites is educating designers. In my own informal survey of friends who have or design websites, I found that none of them knew what I meant by sustainable web design, and almost all of them could not tell me how a website pollutes.

New Template Being Pushed for Facebook Business Pages


Many of you Facebook received the same update news that I got about changes to business Pages. I have read that these changes are largely inspired by a push to support small and local businesses.

There are more than 80 million businesses that use Facebook Pages. About two-thirds of the 1.6 billion people around the world visit a local business Page or an Event Page each week.

I have also read that Page reach and engagement for brands has been on the decline. The area of weakest engagement is the News Feed.

The News Feed is the key area for personal pages, but not so for business Pages. The changes seem to be making your business presence more like a website. Some smaller businesses have been using their Facebook Page as a website in that they don’t have a traditional website at all. Recently, I built a Facebook business Page for a professional photographer who did not have a website, though he did use Zenfolio to display and sell his work.

Business owners know that customer reviews (Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor etc.) are important to all businesses but especially for local businesses. If you trust the validity of those reviews for restaurants and services, they can drive engagement and sales. And facebook quickly realized (and abused to a degree) the fact that most of us especially trust reviews by their friends and families.

The update makes it easier for people to recommend your business by posting text, photos and tags directly on your Page.

There are also action buttons prominently near the top of Pages for things like booking an appointment for a haircut, ordering, sending a message or writing  a recommendation.

The email I initially received said:

We want to let you know that your Page’s template will be changing. This new design will help you connect with the people who care most about your business on Facebook.

The new layout is specifically for businesses like yours and will showcase important information about your business – like hours, prices and your menu – making it easier for people to connect with Ronkowitz LLC.

You can make this change now, or we’ll automatically update your Page layout on August 24th, 2018. You can also continue to use your current template.

Other changes are also coming for businesses. It may not really affect small, local businesses but job listings (which Facebook has been testing since 2017) is supposed to be added to business pages in the next few months.

Choosing the action buttons best suited to your business would be a good first step, but you can also feature information such as hours and prices, as well as Recommendations more prominently on Pages. You can also choose to highlight new content such as events and offers.

Some of these features are not new, but are displayed differently. Facebook says that 700 million people use Facebook Events each month. You could always link to ticket sales on another site, but now you will be able to sell tickets directly through Facebook Pages and make event-specific ads to help with promotion and marketing. Obviously, those changes benefit Facebook monetarily too.

I have seen other recent changes too not mentioned in most update articles. For example, a photo post I shared from my Instagram to Facebook no longer carried an Instagram label and so looked less like a repost.