I’ve know that there is a movement to make the web more sustainable for a while, but Sustainable Web Design, written by Tom Greenwood, is the first book I’ve read about it. I read the book, honestly, because it’s from A Book Apart, and I give pretty much everything they publish a read.
I’m recommending the book, however, because it illustrates that sustainability is one more excellent reason to run an efficient, cleanly-coded, performant website.
An efficient site lets a user do the task they arrived to do in the fewest possible understandable steps, and with the fewest possible distractions.
A cleanly-coded website has less code cruft, takes up less server space, takes up less time to transmit from place to place, and has fewer errors.
A performant website also takes up less server space and less time to transmit from place to place. Additionally, it makes the web feel “snappy” and increases user confidence and satisfaction.
All of those things help us burn less electricity (both as the web consumer and — more importantly — as the web producer), and as a result, increase the sustainability of the internet. Considering that the internet is, as Tom Greenwood puts it, a coal-fired machine, any increase we can make is progress.
Sustainability is important, but sustainability isn’t my passion in UX (at least right now). My passion is seeing that coal-fired machine become more accessible to people with disabilities and users in general.
We all have our passions in UX, and that’s good. It helps to keep the larger culture balanced. But it’s also excellent when we can places where our different goals can be met together using common techniques.
Whether you’re passionate about sustainability, accessibility, or just plain great UX, whether your interest is in software, hardware, or managing data centers, whether you are a lifelong tech geek who remembers when everything had to fit on a floppy disk or you’re new to the web and don’t remember a time before Amazon.com, Tom Greenwood’s book will have suggestions for how you can make your products, and our planet, more sustainable. And probably hit a good number of your other life goals on the way.