10 top tips for greener web tech

Previously in our One Step Greener series we shared top tips on what clients can do to make their websites more sustainable.

The technology used to develop, build and run websites also has its part to play in the effort to reduce energy use and tackle climate change.

At Pixl8 we are continually looking to improve our technical processes and systems in order to become more energy-efficient.

Here are some of things that we are doing and our tips for greener website development:

 

 

1. Cloud-based hosting

We have adopted Amazon Web Services for developing and hosting our clients’ websites. This cloud-based solution means that we are reducing our number of physical servers and the resources needed to maintain them. Amazon also have their own environmental commitments and highlight the energy-saving benefits of cloud technology:

2. Energy-efficient asset storage

Websites can contain hundreds of assets including images, videos, documents and other files. While there are easy things that you can do to reduce the number and size of assets, it's also important to store them in the most energy efficient way.

We use cloud-based Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store website assets. This means that instead of an asset being stored in a physical server at one location it can be served from multiple locations. This makes it more energy efficient to store and serve assets and gives a better experience for the end user.

3. Hibernation mode on all test environments 

When our clients’ websites are in User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Quality Assurance (QA) mode they aren’t in use all the time. 

  • Thanks to cloud hosting on the Kubernetes platform we can put them into “hibernation mode” when they are not in active use.  
  • This enables us to easily conserve resources until they are needed again. When they are, these UAT and QA websites can be restored with just one click.

4. Reducing data logs storage

System information and website user logs all need to be stored somewhere. These include: 

  • Email logs (e.g. read, open, send)
  • Error logs
  • User tracking logs - e.g. journeys of visitors through a website

Our team regularly reviews the number of logs in our systems and actively works to reduce them. Repetitive or duplicate logs are removed or offloaded to integrated services - for example Google Analytics.

5. Preside platform optimisations

Preside is the platform that we use to build websites. It includes tools for our clients including CMS, CRM, Email, Event and Awards Management, Finance and more.

  • Our team is continually optimising the platform to reduce its footprint and ensure it runs more efficiently and optimally. 
  • We ensure that clients are using the latest stable version.
  • We make sure that integrations with third-party software - such as Xero - are always up-to-date

6. Blocking bot traffic

Bot traffic can make up 50% or more of visits to a website - which could be good or bad in nature. 

  • When genuine web users and non-malicious web crawlers land on a site, their speed of access can be controlled. 
  • For example, you can limit the number of page requests to 5 per minute.
  • We also proactively identify and block malicious bot traffic. This reduces the number of requests processed by servers - and saves energy.

7. Cutting down code

Javascript libraries hold assets that are essential for simplifying and standardising the implementation of page behaviour and style. A website might have 30 independent stylesheets which need to be served for each visitor page request.

  • As part of our build process we have a pre-processor. This minimises styles sheets and brings them all together so that they are served more efficiently. 
  • We’re always mindful of the number of libraries requested and keep them to a minimum.
  • Websites are lighter, load faster and energy use is reduced as a result.

8. Reducing page weight

One of our top tips for a greener website is to reduce the size of images to help reduce page weight and use less processing power. 

  • In addition, our Preside platform has built-in image processing tools that auto scale images and optimises them for web.

9. Lazy loading 

We use this technique to serve images and content to website visitors only when they are within or close to the viewable screen area. 

  • When a user lands on a page only the top half is visible.  As they scroll, images further down are requested from the server. 
  • This makes page loading faster and more efficient. It also conserves bandwidth and server resources, using less energy.

10. Server side web caching 

The load of web assets such as images, html documents, video can be reduced by server side caching

  • A homepage banner, for example, that lives in the application directory can be cached on the server. The server “remembers” the image and doesn’t have to call the original asset.
  • Caching can be tailored to the type of web user. For example, members who log-in won’t see cached content as they are served details specific to them.

 

More One Step Greener resources 

Top tips for a ‘greener’ website

Top tips and tools to help your team create a lighter, faster and more energy efficient website.

Our steps to be greener

Find out more about our SME Climate Commitment and what we are doing to reduce our energy consumption.

10 top tips for greener web tech

Get top tips for technology that can help greener web development.