Sustainable Website Design

We have all been hearing the buzz about “green” strategies and sustainability.  We are all responsible for molding the future of the web and contributing new content in responsible ways.  Sustainable (or “green) website design is just part of this.  It starts with committing to the mentality and applying it to how we conduct our operations online.  Most great Internet marketing strategies start with a great website.  So let’s talk about some ways we can be more efficient in design and functionality.

greenIt has all started with the greening of data centers and hosting providers.  Data centers and hosting control panels are now leading the way in energy reduction, cooling, and bandwidth requirements.  Much of this strategy is a result of the ability to give back the responsibility to web developers and designers.  The more efficient we are at web design, the more we all contribute to helping data centers conserve energy and bandwidth.

Web standards like XHTML and CSS create more efficient websites by using less code.  Tableless website design makes it easier to reuse code through cascading style sheets.  This makes functionality and maintenance easier resulting in less bandwidth requirements.  And guess what else…its great for SEO! 

Specific design patterns can also be used to reuse code, imagery, and media.  For example, the same JavaScript can be recycled in an e-commerce shopping cart and distributed from product sku to product sku.  Even front end design elements can be reused.  The key is to separate the code from presentation and style.  Themes are a great way to recycle designs through simple customizations. 

Another great way websites can be standardized without developing new customized code (that increases bandwidth requirements) is the use of all the great open source technology out there.  Using open source technology reduces time, energy and cost.

Hardware is being refurbished and recycled as well.  Data centers and now even being located near renewable energy sources.  We are still at the beginning of sustainable website design and development strategies, but it is what we do now that will keep the improvements coming.

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