This directory of lightweight websites has been created to inspire actors of the digital industry to design and build lighter and greener products.
The Internet is a physical thing. And it is responsible for around 4% of global emissions - more than the entire airline industry, and is growing by 5% each year. In an age when scientists are warning us that every bit of warming matters, it's time to get real about the impact of the digital world.
While the Internet is faster, websites are not. Back in 2008, the median size of a web page was 530kb. Today, it's 2150kb. At the same time, While the Internet is getting faster and faster, websites are not loading faster.
Windows 95 was 30mb and today, some websites are twice this size. More and more resources are required to run digital products, powered mostly by this huge carbon-intensive infrastructure.
Time to design alternatives.
Around the world we are tasking designers of all fields to commit to a more sustainable route and rethink their approach from concept to delivery. Fashion designers are considering material biodegradability, product designers are considering circularity, architects are considering impacts on larger ecosystems.. it's now time for web designers and developers to consider how to build internet - in terms of resources, emissions and waste.
Designing light websites means you are making choices about what is really useful, and leaving out what's not. We've been hoarding all over the internet and so we need to ask - do we need auto play video? (Do we even need video?) Do we need 5 images of the same product? Do we need a preview of 10 next articles on every website's page? Do we need so many fonts? Does each page of a site require ten trackers? The list goes on.
Websites won't save the world.
A website's overall impact is minor, as is the effect of a single plastic bag. It makes no difference if there are one or two more. Isn't it simply a plastic bag? We all know now that it's not about just one plastic bag (or one website) - it's the impact of millions of plastic bags, millions of websites. However restrictions are starting to appear for plastic, a tangible and visible material, which the bulk of the internet stays hidden (with no restrictions).
As Low-Tech Magazine is suggesting it, should we put a Speed Limit for the Internet too? "This may sound strange, but it’s a strategy we also apply quite easily to thermal comfort (lower the thermostat, dress better) or transportation (take the bike, not the car)."
Shaming individual behaviours isn't the way to go about it, but we can practice our individual agency - as we push for a better food system that produces healthy and fertile soil, we must do the same for the web. Actors in the digital sector should be the ones responsible for ensuring that it is sustainable by adopting practices and policies to grow an internet culture that reduces its impact on the environment, and it is as important as combatting fast fashion, intensive farming and ocean waste.
About Hey Low
Hey Low is a design studio building low-carbon brands and websites.
We use design to reduce the carbon footprint of digital products. Our websites emit on average 70% less carbon and load in less than a second. Low impact on the planet. High value for business.
We believe design has an important role in our transition to better future. That it shouldn’t only look good, but do good.
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