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Building Greener Web Applications

By SSA Innovations March 29, 2024

As the world grows more conscious of the critical need for sustainable practices, every industry must contribute to a greener future, and that includes web design and development. Continue reading this article to learn more about environmentally-friendly solutions for developing sustainable web applications.

Did you know that according to the Website Carbon Calculator, the internet accounts for around 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions? When someone views a web application, it emits 20 to 300 milligrams of carbon dioxide per second. That implies that every time you binge watch on Netflix or YouTube, or even look through your social media feeds, there is a carbon cost. If this issue is not addressed, it will contribute to the far-reaching environmental and health consequences, including climate change due to heat trapping, as well as respiratory problems caused by smog and air pollution. 

Therefore, the world needs to be more aware of the crucial importance of sustainable practices, and even the tech industry can play a part in this. Here are some suggestions:

Sustainable solutions begin with consuming fewer resources. Developers can lower the amount of data transferred, server workload, and energy used by:

  1. Applying efficient coding techniques such as code minification and image compression. Code minification enables developers to remove any extraneous characters from their code while maintaining its functionality. This makes web applications lighter and faster to load, lowering the energy required to operate servers.

    High-resolution images enhance website design and appeal.  They are, however, one of the leading causes of slow load times and high energy use. To minimise this issue, choose images wisely. Are they useful, or are they merely for eye candy? After you’ve made your decision, compress any unnecessary photos to save energy. 
  1. Implementing “lazy loading” techniques.  Lazy loading is the process of loading or initialising resources or objects later when necessary in order to increase performance and conserve system resources. For instance, if a web app contains an image that the user must scroll down to see, you can display a placeholder and lazy load the complete image only when the user reaches that part. This strategy minimises loading times and conserves bandwidth.

Hosting and Infrastructure

Choosing a provider that offers sustainable hosting powered by renewable energy can have a big impact on your web application’s sustainability. Employ strategies such as:

  1. Utilising cloud-based infrastructure, like Google Cloud, Amazon Azure, and Amazon Web Services. This enables resource consolidation, resulting in fewer servers needed. Because you normally only pay for the cloud service, developers may assist you in developing server-optimised applications, allowing you to reduce operational expenses, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business requirements change.
  1. Investing in green data centres. Traditionally, data centres consume a lot of electricity to keep applications online and servers good and consistent. Fortunately, there are more sustainable hosting providers powered by renewable energy available today! Verpex Hosting and Green Greeks are two examples of green data centres that use renewable energy sources and smart power management techniques to improve cooling efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of web applications. 

Accessibility and User Experience

Sustainable web development also entails providing accessible and user-friendly applications. By implementing appropriate accessibility features and sensible design principles, your company can provide an inclusive web application experience for all users. Some techniques are as follows:

  1. Offering responsive web designs. Web developers can create responsive layouts that adjust to various devices, eliminating the need for numerous versions or separate mobile applications. By combining all functionality into a single application that adjusts to diverse screen sizes and devices, developers can remove duplication and lessen the environmental effect of developing and maintaining several codebases.
  1. Using semantic HTML elements. People with visual, mobility, hearing, and cognitive impairments use specialised software such as screen readers, braille keyboards, voice recognition tools, and text magnifiers to interact with digital interfaces. So, when creating web applications, how do you keep them in mind?

    Web developers can apply appropriate HTML semantics to assistive devices in order to accurately translate, convey, browse, and interact with web content in alternate formats. Semantic HTML refers to the use of elements to reinforce the meaning of the information in web apps rather than just defining its appearance or look. For example, the <h1> element indicates the main page of a page, whereas <nav> identifies a navigation menu. Screen readers can use these tags to help users navigate an app’s content.

    By appropriately structuring content and UI controls using semantic HTML, pages become directly intelligible to those devices, allowing individuals with disabilities to freely access and interpret information in ways that are appropriate for their needs.

Building a greener future requires efforts in sustainability even in web development. By optimising coding practices, leveraging cloud computing and green data centres, and embracing accessible designs, you can build and design web applications that are both efficient and eco-friendly. The path to a sustainable future is still challenging, but with these strategies, you can help build a greener tomorrow and urge other businesses to prioritise the planet and people.

Interested in learning more about sustainable practices? Check out the other resources we have on our website! Peruse our extensive selection of products and services, and inform us of any ways we can help your business move forward. Contact us!