8 Common sense tips to improve your digital sustainability

Paul Williams - Senior Project Manager

10 Jan 2024

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In this blog, I will suggest simple tips and tricks to improve your digital sustainability by reducing your company’s digital carbon footprint.

Many of these handy hints are equally applicable to your private life. The more we adopt these practices at home and work and share the word, the bigger the positive change we can make.

So, let’s get straight to the list:

1. Do you know your hosting?

If you have a website or indeed any SaaS in the cloud, you’ll want to know about your hosting. Is it “green” hosting? Are the cloud servers powered by green energy or by fossil fuels? To simplify the job, there is a “Green Web Directory” put together and managed by the green computing community. If you’re reading this blog, consider yourself part of the club! Here’s the link. If your hosting provider or ISP is not listed, go to their website and check out their sustainability statement. If there isn’t one, send them an email and or pick up the phone. If they cannot guarantee your hosting infrastructure is green, think about choosing an alternative cloud hosting supplier or lobby them to offer a green hosting option.

2. Common sense quick wins

If you oversee design or content for your website, there are some common sense quick wins:

    • Images
        • Make them small visually, and more importantly, small in terms of file size.
        • Do you really need that image? What purpose is it serving?
        • Major carbon crime alert! Uploading a massive image to your media library at full size, and then displaying it visually smaller on your site. Scale the image down so it’s identical to the size it will appear on the page. Let your CMS also compress the file for you.
    • Video
        • Put them on a cloud hosting service intended for streaming video. There are two major ones, YouTube and Vimeo. Any decent CMS will have a specific module type to include Vimeo or YouTube players on your page. Again, what purpose is this video serving? If in doubt, leave it out!
    • Text
        • Long text is boring and can be a real turn-off if the content is not available in the reader’s own language. Equally, if it’s not specifically designed to be legible or audible by everyone, it’s failing WCAG accessibility requirements, which is bad from a compliance perspective and also morally dubious. Do the right thing. It’s amazing how much you can cut out if you review your text carefully.

3. Carbon calculator

Check each page on your site for its carbon “weight” by using the free and simple Website Carbon Calculator: https://www.websitecarbon.com/ - be warned, it’s likely to be unpleasant reading… but it does give you some possible reasons for a poor grade – which you can take immediate action on.

4. Reduce hops

Reduce hops. If your website is aimed at a specific country or region, choose cloud hosting that is located in that region.

5. Don't hoard useless data

Don’t hoard useless data. You wouldn’t hoard trash (rubbish) in your house, so just follow the same principle online. Do you really need to archive that email, webpage, or image?

6. Don’t duplicate, triplicate… data

Don’t duplicate, triplicate… data. A big offender here is information-sharing tools like SharePoint and Google Docs. If you have a team of fifty and all of them upload the same document in separate places, not only is it impossible to find the master document, but you’ve now also increased the amount of “virtual trash” which needs to be stored and backed up somewhere. If everyone hoards data as a matter of routine, just how many more content and web servers will need to be added over time? Each one needs electricity to run. Have a digital storage policy.

7. What is in your email inbox?

What is in your email inbox, sent items, email archive, and email sub-folders? When did you last access that email? Have an email retention policy and a tool that deletes emails that can be legally deleted and have not been accessed for a long time. Dumping them all into an archive is just as bad.

8. Go out for a walk

On the flip side, switch off your computer and your smartphone – think of all the data being pulled down from the cloud hosting onto your local device! This is probably the worst offender. Go out for a walk or run, get some sunshine (or rain), and get off the internet!

These are all simple things that can be done quickly and painlessly. They are only common sense and are good for your physical and mental health along with the health of our planet.

Let us help you make accessibility progress. Schedule a free meeting with us now to discover how you can transform your journey toward digital and web accessibility.

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Paul Williams

As an advocate for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, I am passionate about creating digital solutions that are innovative, sustainable, and equally accessible to people of all abilities, everywhere.

With diverse experience in both technical and digital marketing roles, I help Konabos build engaging online experiences that turn visitors into paying customers.

Over the past 23 years, I've been involved in developing and managing all aspects of content management, digital publishing, e-commerce, online subscriptions, and community management across many different MarTech platforms.

I held significant roles at The Economist and NTT Data, including Program Manager, Director of Web Operations, and Director of Sitecore Delivery.

And now I'm excited to share my experience, passion, and innovation at Konabos!

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