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Does Spade make eco-responsible sites?

First of all, what is an eco-responsible website?

It is a site that is resource-efficient from its design to its operation. In the face of current environmental concerns, digital pollution is also being called into question. Indeed, for a while, it was claimed that the ecological impact of many services was reduced by dematerialising exchanges, transactions, etc. Recently, however, we have realised that if we no longer send a document on paper, for example, or if we no longer print this document, we will instead store emails on a server which represents a far from insignificant energy expenditure and pollution impact. This is just one example among many to underline the fact that the web is not left behind in the current trend, and that mentions of eco-responsible, sustainable, green sites, etc. are multiplying.

Several search engines explain how they ‘offset’ their energy consumption by sponsoring associations or sustainable actions. You will also find a number of sites that allow you to rate the eco-responsibility of your website, providing advice and some good habits to reduce your impact. The main points observed are the following

  • page complexity (i.e. the number of elements to be displayed on a page)
  • Bandwidth requirements (a high definition video requires more bandwidth than a standard block of text for example)
  • server load (i.e. the number of HTTP requests sent by the site to solicit connections to third parties, information, etc.)

Is it possible to have a full eco-responsible site?

Not really. Despite what you may read here and there, the web currently consumes energy, both for the manufacture of the devices that allow access to it (smartphones, computers, tablets, etc.) and for the storage and transfer of the data that make it interesting (cables, servers to be designed and then cooled, etc.). Let’s not even talk about the end of life of all these materials and the waste production that this causes – that’s another subject.

Being aware of this is important. But it is already a good thing and with this in mind, action is possible. While it is a lie to claim to produce a “green” website, it is indeed possible to reduce its energy consumption – and thus make it more energy and environmentally friendly.

A first and not least important step is to work on the accessibility of its pages. Having a standardised and good-sized typography, simple elements with little interaction, strong colour contrasts, etc., are key elements to make a website accessible. The good news is that these are also positive points for reducing consumption.
Limiting the number of plugins, reducing the weight of images, not multiplying useless elements and superfluous developments, emptying your caches, are also important elements – and which, beyond the “ecological” aspect of your site, will quite simply improve its performance (accelerated page loading speed, for example) and readability.
Remember that any digital action is polluting (sending an email, making a LinkedIn post or entering a search in an engine). So, when setting up your strategy, focus on quality rather than quantity. If you’ve already read this somewhere, it’s because it’s also the basis for effective communication.

We would like to stress one point: it is only about reducing, not greening, a practice that does not know how to be green – at least at the time of writing this article. Finally, note that all the advice on reducing the impact of your site is also advice on improving the quality of your architecture, your campaigns, the performance of your pages and the relevance of your tools.

A number of web professionals are trying initiatives to develop more “responsible” sites, hosting sites on less energy consuming machines, etc. At Spade, we work to develop efficient and effective tools for you, we make accessible websites, which we want to be sustainable, without unnecessary frills. As an agency, we see ourselves as prescribers of these good practices, we want to continue to strive for an ideal website. We are doing our best, and have for example recently joined the professional ambassadors of responsible digital, by signing the Charter of Responsible Digital. It’s a signature on a piece of paper, of course, but it’s a step we wanted to take to motivate us to continue in this direction!

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