Is your UI eCo?

The internet currently produces approximately 3.8% of global carbon emissions, which are rising in line with our hunger to consume more data. As we pull together globally to solve the increasingly urgent climate crisis, how can we play our part as designers, developers and businesses when creating UI?

As a business owner start with the 3 Rs
Can you reduce, reuse or recycle a current site or digital product? Sometimes the most sustainable thing to do is start from scratch with modern clean green code, setting things up well for the future, but other times your current offering can be reused and updated or repaired. For example a fresh colour palette can bring a new lease of life to an interface.

Maximum engagement with minimum power
With the code that runs a site or app being ‘out of sight out of mind’, it’s easy to forget that every interaction a user makes, every video they watch or database query they trigger, all eat up both server and device power. To be more sustainable choose a renewable hosting source such as solar or wind. With assets, reduce clutter and only offer the core essentials to the user and compress them as small as possible. Avoid ‘E-waste’ - remember that storage may seem ‘infinite’ but in reality can be considered as a big landfill in the cloud in the sky. With interactions try to avoid complicated javascript. Simple is best and is usually inline with great UX. Dark mode for the win as it uses significantly less energy on devices and has a whole host of wellbeing benefits.

Get to know your carbon footprint
As you audit other areas of your business and production line, do the same with your website. Tools such as www.websitecarbon.com can help you understand where you’re at, and changes you can make to improve. When you have an actual figure it can be easier to make a plan.

Encourage greener behaviour
Build in features, and trigger emotion through visuals and messaging, to encourage users to make greener choices. Brands have huge power to drive trends and encourage green consumerism, influencing user behaviour.

The clock is ticking, but it can actually be really simple to reduce our energy consumption in the digital industry with a bit of thought and perseverance. And as we make these functional changes it will be really interesting to see how they influence front end style and branding in the next few years.