It’s been a busy start to the year for our team as we recently submitted an application for funding for a new sustainability project. It’s something that will give us the opportunity to do our own work around digital sustainability, so it’s pretty exciting.

Maybe it’s because we have been reading and writing so much about sustainability, but it does feel like more people are talking about how the digital space needs to be doing more. For example, earlier this month there was a piece on Forbes that covered ways leaders should be making a difference and it had a section on creating a ‘more sustainable digital presence’. As part of this, it suggested reviewing websites and assessing ads.

Then the World Economic Forum also had a piece last month from Capgemini urging businesses to undergo digital and sustainable transformations in parallel. It pointed out that data is a big part of this – you can use data to understand issues in order to make improvements and optimisations.

We don’t know what we don’t know

Within absolutely any area of work, you need to assess the problem before you can work on a solution. Without understanding what is going on or where an issue lies, how do you know what to do to fix it? You could go with a trial-and-error approach, but this could lead to further problems.

Take the example of a bug on a website. This could cause other issues such as a customer not being able to check out. There will always be a root cause of the problem so in order to allow customers to buy your products or services, it has to be addressed.

The same goes for trying to make your website more sustainable. How can you do this without first knowing exactly how sustainable it is to start with? And from there, if it isn’t that sustainable, you can then look at what is increasing the digital carbon footprint of your site.

Data is crucial to getting that information – by establishing your carbon load you can then begin to decide whether you need to start fresh with a new, lightweight website, or if it is possible to work on your existing site to streamline it and improve your digital sustainability.

Comparisons and benchmarking

Once you have data on your own site, you might have the question of how you can know if this is good or not? Comparisons always help with this, as long as they are relevant. For example, if you compare your website to that of an organisation that is much larger, such as the BBC, can they really be a helpful comparator? What is more useful is to understand where you should benchmark yourself against.

It’s going to be hard to get the full data to allow you to do this, as the more data you have, the more precise you can be. Using a basic calculator won’t give you the full picture of this as often they only show data for sites that have been tested on their calculator.

Making changes

We get that the sustainability of a website doesn’t always feel like it should be top of the to do list. However, it is important to note that changes that will benefit your sustainability also could improve your UX, SEO and overall performance of your website. We’ve written about this on our digital sustainability service page so you can read more there, but essentially, streamlining your website and considering every click a user makes will help to reduce the number of requests made from a server, which cuts down the carbon.

We’re going to be talking more digital sustainability and how we think websites should be more efficient. It’s not a new topic to us as you will notice if you are long-time readers of our blog, but it is something that we want to drive our business forward in 2023. This goes for even if we don’t get the investment. But we are keeping our fingers crossed….