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Web Sustainability and the Ethical Dilemma

Last week I had the privilege of participating in Smashing Conference in Freiburg. One of the standout sessions was from Asim Hussain, of the Green Software Foundation, who talked about what a Net-Zero strategy means for organisations building websites. It was interesting to hear about the challenges of measuring the carbon emissions of a website, and the many different aspects that must be considered while doing so. Asim pointed out that offsets are not an effective way of getting to Net-Zero, which might seem controversial to some, given that many companies that claim to be carbon neutral are at least partly counting carbon offsetting towards that goal. I’m inclined to agree with Asim here. Offsetting feels (to me) a lot like creative accounting: in the best case simply moving carbon around the system, without actually contributing to the zero-carbon goal. It makes choosing an electricity supplier, or hosting provider a more difficult task if you want to be sure of their green credentials. In theory choosing a green web host should make a big difference to how clean your website is. If they exclusively use renewable energy, the carbon footprint should be very small. But many don’t explicitly make it clear how much of their trumpeted green claims are achieved through offsetting. Another illuminating talk came from web performance expert Harry Roberts, who shared some useful insights for how optimising your element can result in big performance gains. I’m always in favour of us developers doing whatever we can to make websites faster for our users, and often web performance and sustainability make great bedfellows. Reducing data transfer and CPU load inevitably reduces the carbon emissions generated by our website. As well as saving energy serving data to the user, we can also improve the longevity of devices, meaning they will need to be replaced less often. Device manufacturing and disposal uses a huge amount of energy and natural resources, and generates a lot of waste. But is it always the case that faster websites are greener websites? We reluctantly have to consider another facet: if making a website for a car manufacturer faster leads to an increase in the number of cars sold, can we really say that our website is greener? It applies to websites for many industries, of course: fast fashion, electrical goods, airlines and many more. Working in tech we’re accustomed to thinking of what we do as “clean” because we can’t see the carbon emissions. But in reality we service some of the dirtiest industries on the planet. We can try to justify it to ourselves in all sorts of ways, but in the end this is perhaps a problem without a technological solution, something that makes us developers extremely uncomfortable: to choose not to build. Often web performance improvements are framed in terms of saving a company x amount of money or resulting in increased turnover, sometimes totalling millions of dollars, through better, faster user experience. But to frame it from a purely ecological perspective, is this really a better outcome when the end result is enabling environmental destruction on a greater scale? I’m not saying we should endeavour to make websites slower. Faster websites are nearly always better than the alternative. But we shouldn’t be afraid to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions about whose needs we’re servicing. That’s not to say you can’t do any good if you’re working for a company that is contributing in some way to climate change (and let’s face it,  » Read More

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The term "web design" describes the layout of websites that are seen online. Instead of software development, it typically refers to the user experience components of website development. The primary focus of web design used to be creating websites for desktop browsers, but from the middle of the 2010s, designing for mobile and tablet browsers has gained significance.

What is a webdesigner?

A web designer is responsible for a website's look, feel, and occasionally even content. For instance, appearance refers to the colors, text, and images utilized. Information's organization and categorization are referred to as its layout. An effective web design is user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and appropriate for the target audience and brand of the website. Many websites focus on keeping things simple so that viewers won't be distracted or confused by additional information and functionality. Removing as many potential sources of user annoyance as possible is a crucial factor to take into account because the foundation of a web designer's output is a site that gains and nurtures the trust of the target audience.

Responsive and adaptive design are two of the most popular techniques for creating websites that function well on both desktop and mobile devices. In adaptive design, the website content is fixed in layout sizes that correspond to typical screen sizes, while in responsive design, information moves dynamically based on screen size. A layout that is as consistent as possible across devices is essential to preserving user engagement and trust. Designers must be cautious when giving up control of how their work will appear because responsive design can be challenging in this area. While they might need to diversify their skill set if they are also in charge of the content, they will benefit from having complete control over the final output.

What does a web design worker do?

A web designer is a member of the IT industry who is in charge of planning a website's structure, aesthetic appeal, and usability.

A skilled site designer must possess both technical know-how and creative graphic design abilities. They must be able to envision how a website will seem (its graphical design) and how it will operate (conversion of a design into a working website).

The terms web developer and designer are frequently used interchangeably but erroneously. In order to construct more complex interactions on a website, such as the integration with a database system, a web developer is frequently more likely to be a software developer who works with programming languages.