Seva Cloud Sustainable Web Designer showing a desk with a very green wall covered in plants and green paint

How to Be a Sustainable Website Designer

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For many of us, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a necessity. Here at Seva Cloud, we are assisting organisations to reduce the environmental impact their of long-running digital assets – I.e. Websites, Cloud Storage and Apps. As I said in my 8 Ways to be an Effective and Ethical Web Designer in 2024 article – “Having a professional and functional website is crucial for businesses of all sizes” but we need to run our digital domains in a planet conscious way with sustainability at its core. As a web design business, Seva Cloud are uniquely positioned to lead the way building website solutions on sustainable foundations by designing every part of a website. From the front end visual design (what you see) to the back end server stacks (that you don’t see) and everything in between (e.g. themes, plugins and other services).

Providing a Sustainable Web Design Service

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Running a green and sustainable business is hard, especially in the Web Design and Management industry. But our collective efforts will benefit the planet and resonate with our eco/socially conscious clients and consumers. My name is Liamarjit Bhogal, I run Seva Cloud, an all-in-one Socially Conscious Web Design, Website Management and SEO service for individuals, small businesses and not-for-profits. We position ourselves as a web design business, but we design the full tech stack, not just the bits you see.

At Seva Cloud, I align with the United Internet Sustainability Report 2021 (PDF) to continuously enhance our ethical and sustainable actions, and to ensure transparency about them.

Here’s how I’m committing to sustainability within Seva Cloud’s socially conscious web design practice:

1. Eco-Friendly Hosting Solutions

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One of the most impactful ways in which my web design and hosting business can reduce its carbon footprint is by choosing eco-friendly hosting providers, since a large part of the website is the servers it runs on. I recommend IONOS as a hosting provider as they use renewable energy sources to power their servers and data centres and implement energy-efficient practices and scores full marks for sustainability on EcoGrader.

Read more about hosting a climate-neutral future with IONOS and Sustainable Web Design

Note that the image shows an imaginary futuristic datacentre powered by renewable sources and is for illustration purposes only and does not reflect an actual datacentre.

An imaginary seva cloud data canter in the future showing renewable sources powering a sustainable web designers business

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Website Hosting

I ensure that I partner with companies that prioritise sustainability, ensuring that your website and services will be hosted on servers powered by renewable energy. This reduces carbon emissions and supports the transition to a more sustainable internet.

2. Limiting the Use of AI

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Artificial Intelligence (AI), the most well known being ChatGPT, but others include Amazon Bedrock, Microsoft CoPilot and Google Gemini, are resource intensive and burn huge amounts of energy, but this technology can dramatically speed up the time to market when designing and building a new website or maintaining an existing one. To maintain a balance between speed of delivery and a high standard of work with my sustainability goals requires a conscious approach to how I incorporate AI into my web design workflow.

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Limiting the Use of AI

I ensure that AI is purely assistive. For example, a website must be written in your own voice. AI written text will not sound like you and trying to design a website via AI will prevent that personal and unique feel that I ensure each site I design contains. I use AI technology as an ideas and image generator and a research tool, rather than it being replacement for my own skill, thoughts and emotions. I will use AI to perform tedious and time consuming manual tasks but certainly not as the default go-to for every task. My primary use for AI is as an accessibility auditor. But I’ll handle any remedial implementations myself. I believe that AI cannot ever replace a human web designer because web design encompasses the whole system design and if you’re looking for sustainability, authenticity and real-world experience, AI simply cannot replicate this.

3. Efficient Coding Practices

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Every website is made up of thousands of lines of code behind each page. Each line of code executed requires energy to process. Efficient coding is not only about writing code fast to create responsive websites but also about reducing the energy consumption of the code that is running. The simplest way to do that is to reduce the amount of code that is running. Bloat-free, optimised code means that websites load faster and require less energy to operate.

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Coding Efficiently

To create environmentally friendly code, I ensure that each line of code has a purpose and that each plugin running on the website performs a specific and required function. I adhere to best practices in website coding:

  • Minimising the use of heavy scripts
  • Minimising the use of moving components on the screen
  • Reducing repeat processing operations
  • Reducing image size
  • Loading images only when they come into view (Lazy Loading)
  • Keeping things simple

This results in websites that are quicker, load faster, are more user-friendly and more energy-efficient.

4. Sustainable Design Principles

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An imaginary seva cloud office of the future showing a green and sustainable web design office

When I sit down to design a website, I am designing the whole system (front to back) with sustainability in mind. This means architecting websites that are beautiful and functional but also resource-efficient. This includes using minimalist design approaches to optimise for performance and selecting hardware that is appropriately sized for the job – For example, there is no need for 32GB memory for a small e-commerce platform. 3-6GB is sufficient until your business booms and you get more traffic, at which point we can increase the capacity.

I focus on minimalist, user-centric designs that reduce unnecessary elements and prioritise functionality. By creating streamlined websites, we lower the energy required for data transfer and improve the overall user experience. Design is not just visual. When designing systems, I ensure that the resources are sized correctly and they are not overprovisioned. I implement practices that ensure Cloud Storage is not saturated unnecessarily and will archive to physical storage when needed to reduce the load on Cloud Storage.

5. Remote Work and Digital Collaboration

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Reducing our carbon footprint extends beyond the websites we create, to how we operate our businesses. Embracing remote work and digital collaboration tools significantly cuts down on travel-related emissions. This is a shame, because in-person meetings brings a connection that cannot be replicated via a phone or video call. If the distance allows, I’ll try to meet you early on in the project. If this is not possible, we can talk as much as needed. Again, limiting video calling is beneficial to reducing energy consumption. A simple organic phone call can achieve the same results whist being conscious about the energy being used.

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Remote Working

I operate primarily as a remote engineer, utilising digital tools for communication and project management. This reduces the need for commuting and business travel, minimising my overall carbon footprint.

6. Digital Products and Services

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Wherever possible, we offer digital alternatives to physical products. This not only reduces waste but also promotes a more sustainable way of doing business.

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Digitisation

From digital contracts and invoices to virtual meetings and digital marketing materials, we prioritise digital solutions over physical ones. Printing less reduces paper waste, improves efficiency and aligns with our commitment to sustainability.

7. Educating Clients

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Part of our mission is to educate clients on the importance of sustainability and how they can implement green practices in their own digital presence.

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Education

We provide resources and guidance on creating sustainable content, choosing eco-friendly plugins, and understanding the environmental impact of their websites. By educating our clients, we help them make more informed decisions that support sustainability.

8. Offsetting Carbon Emissions

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Even with the best practices, carbon emissions are still inevitable in 2024. To address this, we wish to invest in carbon offset programs that neutralise our remaining environmental impact but we have not done so yet.

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Carbon Offsetting

To facilitate carbon offsetting, Seva Cloud needs to calculate its carbon footprint and then invest in reputable carbon offset projects, such as reforestation and renewable energy initiatives to help us achieve carbon neutrality and further our commitment to sustainability.

9. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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I’m not just committed to reducing my carbon footprint at work, I’m also reducing my carbon footprint at home. I’ve already made some great changes in an attempt to minimise my environmental impact. I’m aware there’s a lot missing from list, such as use of Solar Panels and Electric Vehicles, but these options are not currently viable for us. This way we can contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle however we can.

Every small change adds up to make a big difference for the environment. If Seva Cloud ever grows to needing a dedicated office, these practices, along with others, will be implemented there too.

A Sustainable Web Designers Approach to Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

Along with running a business, I also run a home. I operate my business from my home and therefore my home practices correlate with my working practices.

Increasing Energy Efficiency

  • Switching to good LED bulbs
  • Unplugging/Switching off unused devices
  • Turning off lights
  • Using a programmable thermostat
  • Placed centrally away from external doors
  • Mowing the lawn with a hand powered mower

Sustainable Water Use

  • Turning taps off
  • Collecting rainwater for plant and lawns

Household Practices

  • Using natural cleaning products
  • Improving insulation in our home
A light bulb running on sustainable energy has leaves in the center and is in front of a digital cloud

Waste Reduction

  • Composting biodegradable kitchen waste
  • Recycling typical household materials
  • Purchasing items in bulk to reduce packaging waste
  • Removing single use plastics
  • Using reusable coffee cups, bottles and containers
  • Using shampoo bars
  • Purchasing products without plastic wrapping
  • Switching to wood based cat litter for our 2 cats Lilly and Dora
  • Also using paper bags for the litter waste
  • Installation of a bidet shower (which really helped us avoid the pandemic panic buying of loo rolls)

Conclusion

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Your success is a testament to my commitment, and I’ll take pride in being your trusted partner on your next digital journey. Let’s make the world just that little bit better, together.

Running a green and sustainable web design business is not just a responsibility but an opportunity for Seva Cloud to lead by example. By choosing eco-friendly hosting, practicing efficient coding, embracing minimalist design, and operating sustainably, we can significantly reduce ours and our clients environmental impact. Our commitment to education and offsetting carbon emissions in the future further underscores our dedication to a greener future. Together, we can create a more sustainable digital landscape that benefits everyone.

I look forward to hearing about your next project and how we can work together to build a better tomorrow. How do you think you could improve sustainability in your home or business?

DESIGN | Development | HOSTING | SEO | CONSULTANCY

Website Services

Hello, My name is Liamarjit Bhogal, I run Seva Cloud, an all-in-one Socially Conscious, Ethical and Sustainable Web Design, Website Management and SEO service for individuals, small businesses and not-for-profits. We position ourselves as a web design business, but we design the full tech stack, not just the bits you see.

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