Nice idea, but isn’t this completely impractical for brand awareness or business-focused websites?
This is a good point, but it slightly misunderstands the purpose of Susty WP. This website isn’t trying to say that all websites should seek to load with just 7KB of data transfer. The point it’s trying to make is that websites have become hugely obese in the past decade, and that as well as all of the other negatives that go with that, it’s also bad for the environment.
We already have Facebook and Google implementing Facebook Instant Articles and AMP respectively. But if we just built better, leaner websites, projects like those wouldn’t be necessary.
So what Susty WP is really trying to do is encourage those who work on the web to think twice when it comes to, for example:
- Implementing a carousel. The evidence suggests users neither like them nor use them.
- Embedding a YouTube video vs just linking to it. YouTube embeds typically cost at least 1MB before the user even clicks on them.
- Filling pages with cruft like endless sidebar content, ads, fancy flipping click-to-reveal navigation and distractions that are unlikely to add value and might ultimately turn users off.
We don’t all live on the Wealthy Western Web. And even in the “wealthy” west, a lot of people pay by the MB for their data. Loading two web pages shouldn’t blast through 10MB of data, but for some websites that’s the reality.
Fine, I agree with you, but it isn’t up to me, in the real world I have to do what my client/boss/overlord tells me to…
This is absolutely a problem that I very much understand. I also inhabit the real world. However in my experience clients and bosses are malleable (but maybe not overlords!), and they can be persuaded by arguments about improved user experience and performance.
I also believe many people are receptive to the sustainability angle – which is one reason why I built this site!
Isn’t climate change a hoax?
No. It’s happening, we know it’s happening and we know we’re causing it. And if you don’t believe NASA and climate scientists, why not ask the oil companies?
Ok, but isn’t this all rather political?
Not really. Every country on Earth but the US is signed up to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement which binds them to reduce their CO₂ emissions. The US pulled out after electing as president a compulsive liar and climate change denier. Given that he is apparently unable to comprehend air circulation within a building (i.e. if his apartment were “concealed” [sealed], he would suffocate inside it), it’s hardly surprising he can’t get his head around climate change. However, a group representing more than half of the US’s economy and population has aligned on their commitment to the agreement.
Don’t wind turbines kill birds?
A very small number, yes. But this has been greatly exaggerated. And they kill far fewer birds than almost any other form of power generation that we have. In the US, the Audubon Society actively supports “properly sited wind power”. In the UK, the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) actively supports the building of wind farms to help prevent climate change. There are also many other forms of renewable energy generation.
Aren’t there more important things to worry about than the CO₂ emissions of websites?
Yes, see: what else can I do? That said, if you work on the web and have direct influence over making your product more efficient, why not do that? As a bonus, every step towards a more sustainable web also means a more performant web, which means happier users and happier servers!
What else can I do?
- Eat less meat, eggs and dairy. Or preferably no meat, eggs or dairy.
- Fly less, and take the train as an alternative where possible.
- Drive less and take public transport or cycle if and where possible.
- If possible switch to a renewable energy provider in your home and/or office.
- Support offsetting schemes for CO₂ emissions that are unavoidable.
- Consider adopting children instead of producing them.
- Consider looking after other people’s pets instead of having your own.
- Try to make ethical choices as a consumer and support companies that care about sustainability. In particular try to shift away from the habit of buying disposable electronic devices every couple of years and instead support companies that build products to last.
- Investigate whether or not you are inadvertently supporting the fossil fuel industry, for example via your bank or pension.