What is Sustainable Web Design? 7 Tips for Your Drupal Website

9 min

When your website loads slowly, it not only makes users impatient, but also consumes more electricity. In digital business, we’re used to thinking about design, growing the number of users, and increasing profits. However, do all these factors contribute to a sustainable reputation?

Sustainable websites are more than a trend, they are a movement advocated by many business owners. Today, we’re going to tell you how to upgrade your website and become one of these business owners. Saving the planet is possible if each of us makes an effort.

What Is Sustainable Web Design?

Website owners need to pay attention to how much electricity their business consumes. When we browse the web, we don't consider the huge amount of data passed between Internet users. This comprises terabytes of information, which in turn requires tons of energy.

Sustainable website design is an optimization process aimed at reducing the amount of electricity consumed by web platforms. It is a win-win situation: the business gets an improved software product and the world gets a cleaner environment.

Why Should We Care? Electricity Consumption Predictions for 2025

A “tsunami of data” is what Anders Andrae sees in the near future. Andrae is a Swedish researcher working for Huawei and studying energy consumption. He updated his 2016 report, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast, at the end of 2017. The report had some alarming results.

Technological innovations require an increasing amount of energy. By 2025, ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) may consume up to 20% of world energy. If you imagine the Internet as a country, it will be in 4th place in terms of electricity consumption (the first three places taken by the US, China, and India).

Communication Technology share of global electricity usage

Also, an increasing number of people from developing countries are going online. Eventually, we will exist online in a growing, borderless, country. Will this country be safe and clean?

How to Create a Sustainable Drupal Website

What steps do you need to take to develop a "green" Drupal site? Each CMS has its own techniques for website optimization, and Drupal 8 is no exception. Let’s figure out how to make your website environment-friendly.

1. Speed Up Your Website with the BigPipe Module

Why do we love Drupal 8? One reason is that its modules work miracles! We use BigPipe to optimize loading time, which is crucial for a sustainable solution. Pages are displayed faster because the module sends cacheable data first, and all dynamic parts are sent after that.

The less time it takes to load your website, the closer you get to a sustainable Drupal site since it will use less electricity.

2. Optimize the Database with the OptimizeDB Module

The database cache_form table should be cleaned out periodically. The best tool to do that is OptimizeDB. OptimizeDB will optimize all the tables in the database and display their sizes, so your website will never be overloaded with extra data. Also, developers can conduct DB maintenance and repair any table.

3. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) Instead of a Data Center


Another way to optimize Drupal for sustainable web design is to reduce the amount of energy consumed during content delivery. The CDN locates the server that is nearest to the end user, and next time this visitor navigates to your website, he or she will get data from that server. The shorter distance allows the content to be delivered faster and, consequently, use less energy.

4. Optimize Content with the SEO Checklist Module

When a user can’t find the necessary info on your website, it’s fatal not only for your reputation but also for power usage. To place everything in the right order, start using the SEO Checklist module. We all know that search engine optimization plays a huge part in your company’s success, and it also helps in building a sustainable Drupal 8 website. When users quickly find what they need, they use less electricity surfing your website.

5. Optimize Visual Content

We perceive the world mostly with our eyes, and that’s why website creators dedicate so much effort to visual content. At the same time, visuals can be a heavy load for the platform. If you want to create a mix of beautiful web design and environmental sustainability, start with the website’s pictures. Remember that big files, no matter how impressive they look, make people wait longer than they expect. Start with the ImageCache module - it will help to decrease the page size.

Also, take a look at Image Lazyloader. The more images you have on your website, the more useful this module is going to be for you. It loads only those files which are visible for the user. With this, your website automatically consumes less energy and works faster.

And you should consider image formats too. We strongly recommend converting PNG and GIF files to the SVG format to make your images lighter and easy to scale. Even if it’s impossible to convert certain files, you can always use tools like TinyPNG to decrease the file’s size.

6. Remove Drupal Modules that You Don’t Use

We’re singing Drupal modules’ praises today, but let’s face it - not all of them are useful all the time. The Drupal community updates modules regularly, so you should check whether you use all of your tools. Some of them could be outdated or installed earlier as they seemed “cool” then. Meanwhile, all modules consist of the lines of code that need to be loaded just like any other content on the website. Throwing out all the clutter makes both your website and the planet cleaner.

7. Partner with a Sustainable Host

Hardly anyone would enjoy sitting on a heap of junk in their best clothes. This strange metaphor is about the web hosting provider you choose to work with. What is a green hosting company? Just ask the company’s managers about sustainability and turn around if they don’t know what the term means.

When you optimize your website to make it sustainable, it can make it difficult to collaborate with companies who have different values. So, don’t hesitate to ask questions, share your knowledge, and change your hosting provider if you need to.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to consider. Sustainable websites are not just a trend, it is your way of taking care of the world. There are millions of websites, but even one small change makes a difference. So, optimize your website, and spread the word about becoming eco-friendly.

The AnyforSoft company can help you make your website sustainable, in addition to optimizing business solutions to stimulate growth, provide a better user experience, and take care of the world.

Want to work with us?