Technology has given many opportunities to grow. However, it does have downsides—one of them is that it contributes to climate change.
Every business wants to make its website accessible to the users at all times. To make this happen, it has to use energy—24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When the visitors land on the page, the web server uses energy to deliver elements like images, videos, and text to them. Plus, web servers also require power to operate and air conditions to keep them cool.
Now imagine millions of websites on the web using this amount of energy. Some websites are small and may use less energy. However, big websites have more tools and applications and get more visitors. This means they need more power to run and, thus, impact the environment.
In fact, a study reveals that internet operations account for 10% of annual energy consumption, which is likely to increase to over 20% by 2030.
This is where an eco-friendly WordPress website comes into the picture.
This blog post will walk you through five tips to improve sustainability and make your WordPress website a greener place.
5 tips to make your WordPress website more eco-friendly
Choose a green hosting company
Your web hosting provider takes a tremendous amount of energy to transmit data. In fact, research reveals that web hosting data centers will be responsible for up to 20% of the world’s power consumption by 2025. Therefore, switching to a green web host is the best decision to build an eco-friendly website.
Green web hosting, or eco-friendly hosting, seeks to eliminate the global environmental impact of the services it provides. In short, it is a more environmentally friendly way to host websites. They aim to provide high-quality hosting services while decreasing their carbon footprint.
Finding a green web host can be overwhelming. Here are four factors you should consider when choosing a host:
Transmission of data through networks contributes to maximum energy usage. In order to lower your website’s carbon footprint, the need is to select a data center close to your users. This will speed up the delivery and loading time and reduce the amount of energy required by your website.
Carefully read the policy documents of each host and read reviews about them online. Understand what they’re doing to be green. Are they buying credits for renewable energy from sources like sun and wind? Or, how are they cooling their centers?
Make sure the host you choose has a high Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating. The PUE measures how efficiently the data centers use the energy. As a thumb rule, the perfect score is 1. So, your green host must have a PUE rating as close to 1 as possible. For example, Google data centers have a PUE rating of 1.11, which means no wasted energy.
Choosing a green host that ticks all your boxes might seem a lot of work. Initiatives like The Green Web Foundation provide a list of numerous hosting providers to make your search easier.
Switch to an eco-friendly theme
Adopting an eco-friendly WordPress theme is another crucial factor in building an ecologically friendly website. So, select a theme that looks fresh and clean as you want the environment to be.
Further, the lesser resources they pull, the better it is for the environment. Many ready-made WordPress themes provide tons of features that you might not require. So, run your theme through the Query Monitor plugin to check how many database queries it has, which can decrease the speed of your website.
Here are a few WordPress themes for website planning to go green:
The Total theme is a flexible, multipurpose theme that suits any type of business. It comes with 40+ demo sites that serve as a starting point for building your website. You can install any site with just a single click and tweak layout, colors, and fonts to match your business. These demo sites are coded clean, which means you use a few resources with this theme.
Further, the total includes over 80 builder modules, which can help you create attractive layouts. The best part? You can get all these features for just $59.
If you’re looking for a theme that can minimize the environmental impact of your business, EcoCoded is one of the best options for you. EcoCoded offers few features and uses only a few colors and only one font, lowering load time and power usage. This minimalist theme comes with few images and zero fancy animations.
EcoCoded is available in both free and paid versions, starting at $29.
Eco Nature is a beautiful theme that works on all browsers and screen sizes. It comes with three unique demos, which help you create an eco-friendly website. The clear and flexible shortcodes make customization easy. The theme also includes an intuitive drag-and-drop compose, Layer Slider plugin, parallax scrolling, and many Google Fonts. You can get this theme for just $59.
WordPress plugins can help you add additional features to your website. They are one of the main reasons people enjoy using WordPress. However, that doesn’t mean you will install as many plugins as you want.
Plugins are programmed in the PHP language. Visitors browse your site and use the features it has to offer. If they trigger a part of the PHP code processed by the PHP module on your web server, more data and energy will be used.
So, if you have hundreds of plugins installed on your website, clean them out. This not only makes your WordPress website eco-friendly and more secure, but it can also give it a performance boost. This is because the cleaner your website backend is, the less amount of energy and power it will use.
Here’s how you can limit the use of plugins:
Before you install a plugin, think if it’s really required. Can you get the feature it offers in another way? For example, you can move as much of the plugin functionality as possible to functions.php. This way, you will use fewer plugins and utilize more efficient code.
You can use the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) to check which plugin uses the most resources and to measure its performance.
Another way is to make sure all your plugins are up-to-date. To check this, go to the “Update” tab in your WordPress dashboard. Further, while installing the plugin, check how often the plugin is updated and how many websites have installed it. If some plugins are inactive, get rid of them.
Other factors you should consider while choosing what plugins to keep include the security provided by the plugin and how the security issues are resolved, what kind of support they offer, its reviews and testimonials, and the number of databases it has.
Prefer digital document sharing and signing
No matter your title or industry, paperwork is one of the significant barriers to productivity. It reduces efficiency and can even pose a security risk—not to mention that 40% of the time is spent by employees filing papers. Plus, carrying out paper processes also requires various tools such as printers, fax machines, and more. And don’t forget the cost of paper can add up quickly in a workplace.
Sustainability is another reason to evaluate paper usage. A study shows that paper products make up the largest percentage of all materials (including metals and plastics) in landfills.
Hence, for an eco-friendly website, going paperless is crucial. It can not only reduce the website’s carbon footprint but also have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.
By embracing online document management systems and digital signatures, you can lower paper use in your day-to-day operations. From signing contracts to sharing documents, anything you can do on paper can be done electronically, eliminating paper and making your website eco-friendly.
Electronic signatures are collected at once and can be used on as many documents as you want. If done correctly, they provide the same benefits as handwritten signatures. And don’t forget the security, convenience, and cost-effectiveness that comes along.
You can sign the documents via your phone or computer. Plus, numerous apps can make the process easier. However, before selecting any digital signing app, ensure it is secure and integrates with your existing software.
Furthermore, electronic document sharing can also help you share documents with your customers or clients from anywhere across the world with an internet connection. Some notable file-sharing software includes Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, FileCloud, and more.
Optimize all images
Images are one of the core elements of a WordPress website. Using them correctly can enhance your website content. However, using a large number of them can slow down your site. In fact, images take up 50% of your page weight.
That’s why optimizing your WordPress images is crucial to speed up your website, and ultimately reduce its carbon footprint. This is because each optimized image reduces the amount of energy required for data transmission to your visitors.
Here’s how you can optimize your images:
Before optimizing each image, ask yourself questions like, is this image valuable for your site, does it contain useful information, can you reduce its file size, and can you use it in SVG format? Then, use an image optimization plugin to reduce its size without compromising its quality, change the format, and so on.
The geographical distance between the website’s servers can have a massive impact on the loading time—the larger the distance, the slower the speed. To avoid this, install a content delivery network (CDN) that stores your site on multiple servers worldwide and connects your visitors to the server nearest to them.
Lazy loading is another effective technique that loads images only when the visitors want to see them. This means your pages will show the photos on the top, whereas images below the fold are loaded only when the user scrolls down the page.
This method is useful especially for images on long pages that take longer to load—the page won’t load completely until all the elements are fully downloaded. It also reduces the HTTP request and the energy used in data transfer, resulting in an ecologically conscious website.
Caching is another effective technique to reduce the carbon footprint of your WordPress website. Caching refers to the process of making copies of website pages after the first load and serving those to every subsequent user.
Since WordPress doesn’t have to fetch information from the database before the web page is sent to the visitor, it reduces the load on the web hosting servers and makes your website load faster.
There are mainly two types of caching for WordPress sites:
- Page caching
- Browser caching
Page caching allows you to store static versions of the pages in the cache and render them to the website visitors. You don’t have to process PHP for every single visit, saving a lot of server processing time and resources.
Browser caching is a process in which a website’s static resources, such as images, stylesheets, logo, etc., are stored locally in the visitor’s browser cache. This allows browsers to load these files faster when the user visits the website the second time.
This lowers the overall server load time because fewer requests are created to the actual server, and your website performance will also improve.
In a nutshell, both these types are less energy-intensive and will make your website faster and more ecologically conscious.
WordPress is the major blogging platform on the web. But gradually, it is becoming one of the big environmental polluters too. With these five techniques, you can reduce the amount of energy your website needs to be available to your users at all times.
The best part? These tips don’t require any technical skills, and you can implement these changes without affecting the functionality and design of your website.
Remember: Building an eco-friendly website can not only reduce your carbon footprint but also speed up its load time and boost the performance of your website.