Web Design

Green Website Design and Eco-Friendly Online Marketing

22 Jul , 2008  

Since the trends involving pretty much everything in our lives are moving towards being environmentally friendly and conserving our natural resources, I wondered if we could apply some of these green lessons to web design.  Ask any project manager and they’ll tell you any web design, programming or application development project has a finite amount of resources behind it (unless, of course, you have an infinite amount of funds $).  So I thought I could extend some green ideas towards either saving those resources, or at the least, using them more wisely.

Presented below are 10 Green and Eco-friendly tips for web design and online marketing:

Green Web DesignUse Less Fossil Fuel: This is a simple one for any developer involved with your project.  Work virtually from home more often and spend less gas.

Use Less Paper: Who even needs a printer anymore?  I don’t even have one on my desk.

Hire Local Resources Only: Here’s a no-brainer for anyone who’s tried it before — don’t use offshore outsourcing!   I can’t tell you how many clients come ask me to fix their development project after they’ve spent thousands on some developer in India or China.  By using programmers and developers who work locally, you don’t have to worry about language problems or redundant development cycles.  Let’s face it – there simply is no pride in ownership from application code coming out of these emerging economies.  It’s bad, it’s buggy, and it just doesn’t work.  Local developers are here to stand behind their code, so you benefit by getting a product which both they and you can be proud of and promote.  Using local resources also stimulates your own local economy, which of course represents the very same people to which you are trying to sell or market your business!

Sustainable Resources:  In terms of green construction, this usually means implementing a renewable energy source such as solar power to sustain your energy.  By why not develop websites which can also self-sustain?  By using a Content Management System, or CMS, there is no need to continually hire coders or developers to maintain and sustain your website.  A CMS will allow you to update your own website content any time you want, on your own schedule.

Recycle: Unless you hire a developer who started working yesterday, every programmer has an arsenal of code which he or she re-uses.  Any good ASP.NET or PHP programmer already has a good library of applications which they’ve worked on in the past.  Ask your web developer for a discount on a recycled application; if they’re already programmed it before, there’s a very good chance they will extend a discount for re-using a pre-built application which simply has to be customized for your use.

Lifecycle Planning: If you build a green home, you have to make sure it’s not going to fall apart and contaminate the environment in 10 years, so you plan for the inevitable deconstruction of your home.  Why not also build the marketing strategy of your website behind a long term goal?  Many customers get together a few bucks $, hire a web designer, and put out a website.  And then that’s it.  There’s no promotion behind it, no SEO, no marketing.  So they just sit and wait and inside of two years they have this horribly outdated and obsolete website which no one visits.  By working with a web design and marketing team which know how to plan the lifecycle of your efforts, you can extend the life and productivity of your marketing plan — even the eventual deconstruction of it (i.e., re-design).

Innovation in Design:  When building green, the LEED system applies points for innovative design.  Why shouldn’t you expect the same from your website designer?  So many cheap and offshore web developers today simply rip off a template-based design or just change the colors and re-use old websites to sell clients what they call a “new” web design.  This is one case where recycling is not desirable – you should always demand a new, original and unique web design, especially if you are paying for a custom web design.  Web developers should constantly be striving to innovate design for greater usability and effectiveness; you don’t want someone else’s stale old design.

Green Flower AbstractIncentives: Building developers designing eco-friendly construction now receive up to a 20% bonus for achieving a certification level higher than that required.  Why not extend the same incentive to your web design or marketing team?  Merit-based pay has an awesome power to motivate.  Offer your SEO professional a certain bonus rate if they meet and exceed your expectations.  Offer your web marketer an incentive bonus if your site meets and exceeds x amount of $ in sales.  By making an incentive partner out of your developer you foster and build a profitable relationship for both of you.

Positive Economic Impact:  There are two ways to measure economic impact; direct and indirect.  Obviously, whatever it is you are marketing on the internet, you want it to have a positive direct economic impact on you own wallet.  Don’t budget $10,000 for a new massive web application to sell $100 sneakers, and then forget to budget for promotion and marketing.  In the downstream, this is going to have a negative impact on your sales since you didn’t plan for the eventual marketing expense.  And what about indirect impact?  Techniques such as linkbaiting and viral marketing can yield amazing rewards, even though they employ indirect marketing techniques.

Social Impact: In green terms, this equates to culture and quality of life; contributing to a positive quality of life for current and future generations.  But in the end, isn’t this exactly what you want your web presence to achieve?  You want to make an economic AND a social  impact.  One of the best ways to drive traffic and sales to your website is to offer something of value to your public, preferably free.  By improving their lives in some way, you generate a social buzz, and people begin talking about your service and emailing your URL to others.  You don’t have to think about social impact just in terms of MySpace and Facebook; a good marketing team can assist you in dreaming up bigger and even better ways to impact online social networking to promote your business.

Just in case you’re wondering where I got these green building guidelines from, they came from either the Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers or The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

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25 Responses

  1. Mike Spencer says:

    Hi,

    I run my own Printing Agency in Herefordshire, & have worked at one stage for the now defunct GBK Exacta (a company who replaced all the working parts of laser cartridges & then re-sold them)I am extrmely aware of the environmental aspect of printing. For instance, in Europe alone, the oil used in the plastic to make the laser cartridges we throw out every year, would be enough to run 100,000 cars a year.

    I am thus always trying to promote environmentally friendly printing on Social Networking sites.

    Please feel free to visit my blog at
    http://spencerprint.blogspot.com which contains loads of articles on “Green” printing, such as a bio degradable form of laminate, a paper mill that uses straw to make paper, & several spec sheets on recycled papers.

    Lastly, I feel that a little humour can sometimes help spread the message. with this in mind, I have made some humerous videos at
    http://www.spencerprint.co.uk/social_networking.html

    Even “Greenpeace UK liked the angry cat video.

    Many thanks,

    Mike Spencer
    Spencer Print

  2. Nice to see online marketing being used in a green way. Thanks. :-)

  3. seema says:

    Your blog is very informative and helpful .. thanks…..keep it up.

  4. Worly says:

    Really your thoughts speak out clearly on this article and gave birth to a new milestone word/sentence “Green Website Design and Eco-Friendly Online Marketing” in the web dictionary. Thank you.

  5. Herman says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m implementing some of these ideas already for my own customers. For social impact I try to over deliver…this helps gain more referrals, build a solid reputation and have customers for life.

  6. ed edmundson says:

    hi – can u recommend good websites to run banner and text ads that reach the eco-shopper? i like treehugger…. others? thank you!!

  7. Barry Wise says:

    Sure, http://www.greenmaven.com/ is a pretty big site for eco-shopping.

  8. It’s great to see Internet businesses using marketing in an eco-friendly way. Keep up the good work!

  9. We are implementing several of these ideas.
    Thanks!

  10. Casey Henry says:

    I love this post. I’ve been trying to tell my clients how green website are the thing of today and they will cut down on the cost of your print material! Thanks for making it clear!

  11. Colin Waters says:

    Great advice for a lot of companies. The company I work for, Trade Show Emporium, houses a lot of servers for a design company in our building. They just announced a few weeks ago to move forward with a project to add solar panels to our roof. The solar panels are going to offset the cost of conventional energy consumed by the servers.

    I know it wasn’t one of the ways that you mentioned above, but I think it’s a great step forward in reducing our footprint. I am definitely going to pass this along to everyone in our office.

    Thanks!

  12. I worked with a company that is all about green buildings. I did not know a lot about green building until i worked with them. After reading this article, it opened my eyes to how big this idea is coming.

  13. You must also make sure that your overall website design is striking and visually pleasant. Our website should have appropriate images and graphics which would make our content even more useful.

  14. simi says:

    nice to see someone is doing diffrent…….
    gr8 man…..

  15. My construction company just recently started promoting building with green building products. We use decking materials such as composite decking and composite handrails. These materials are made from recyclable materials and scrap wood. Other materials such a vinyl siding are eco-friendly as well.

    I’m finding out a lot of my customers would prefer such materials and feel they’re doing their part to protect the environment. It’s a positive step as a builder to do my part as well.

    Great article, I will subscribe for more future post..

    Michael.

  16. Moving towards internet marketing is green in itself. No need to use fossil fuel, paper and everything is renewable… just erase and reuse.

  17. Power Shift says:

    These are some great ideas. We really need to get more clean energy web hosting options. To think of how much energy is used to power all the servers in the world is mind blowing. There are some that claim to be ‘green host’ but in reality they only use a very small amount of clean energy.

  18. Some materials today are being presented as “Green Friendly” but are they really green for the environment. For example Homeowners are selecting engineered composite decking because of its longevity and recycled nature. What about the composite decking that doesn’t find its way back into a recycling plant, instead end up in the local landfill. How long do you think it takes for engineered composite decking to break down? 100 yrs.

  19. I wish more companies would allow their workers the options to work from home. Just think how much less traffic, and air pollution that could result in!

  20. Aditya says:

    Great Article! I’ll like to add that hosting virtual events is a great is a cheap and eco-friendly marketing technique.

    Thanks, Aditya

  21. SEO India says:

    Hi buddy,

    Nice article on Green Website Design and Eco-Friendly Online Marketing and great info i really impressed for reading your article.

  22. Jessica says:

    Nice article specially considering all the attention clean and green technologies are getting.

  23. I believe Green Website Design and Eco-Friendly Online Marketing will become mainstream rather than mere novelty in near future.

  24. What a wonderfully relevant post! Green is the new black in fashionspeak, and this trend is reflecting everywhere. I like your take on green web design, the single most pertinent point that leaped out at me is relating a CMS to a sustainable resource. Another favourite of mine is telecommuting, as it is a great means of saving on many levels (traffic frustration can not be measured, but does really add loads to the stress levels of most people)

  25. Very interesting article. Further to your comments on “green” website design, I thought I would add that you can now find many hosting services that are eco-friendly. I chose my hosting service specifically because they are 130% wind powered. They buy offsets for more than their actual carbon footprint. They got my business as a result of their commitment to being eco-friendly.

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Green Website Design and Eco-Friendly Online Marketing

by Barry Wise time to read: 4 min
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