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Is it expensive to build an Eco-friendly website?

If you are about to have your new website built or maybe just thinking about it, then you might have asked yourself the question of whether an eco-friendly website is more expensive to build than a normal one. The quick answer is NO, it is not more expensive to build an eco-friendly or sustainable website compared to a normal one. But in this article we would like to give you the long answer, so hang tight.

What an eco-friendly website is

You might have heard the term before, but do you actually know what an eco-friendly website is? No, it is not a green theme on WordPress full of leaves and windmills, but it is a website that concentrates on delivering valuable information to the visitor and at the same time lowering the environmental impact it has by applying certain design-and-development methods. 

The fact is that websites pollute and depending on the weight, hosting, color theme, amount of data, and optimization the website can either pollute more or pollute less. There are many factors to the pollution and making a website completely eco-friendly is an impossible task at this very moment.

How does a website pollute?

Your website is only one component of the pollution that happens when someone visits it. First, we have a person that types in the URL that leads to your website. This request is sent through the visitors' device, through the visitors' router, and through tunnels and points until it finally gets to the server hosting the website. The server then runs the request and sends back data through the same path to the visitors' device. During this journey both the visitors' device, the router, the path, the points in between, and the data center hosting the website can be running on gray energy (coal energy or another polluting energy source) which causes pollution.

Underneath we have created a list to give you an idea of some of the things that happen every time someone visits your website.

  • Visitors device: This device whether it's a computer, tablet, or phone is causing pollution in many ways. When the user is using the device it draws energy, the components deteriorate, the router sending and receiving the request requires energy, and the points in between the router and the web server require energy.
  • Datacenter: The data center hosting the website can run on gray energy which is then causing pollution and there is also the deterioration of the servers to think about.
  • CDN: Most websites today use CDNs for various things such as receiving custom fonts, scripts, and stylesheets. These CDN links can be hosted with gray energy and therefore also cause pollution when it receives a request.
  • Route hops: Each hop that the request takes between you and the web server requires energy. So the farther the more hops the request will take. 

Benefits of a sustainable and eco-friendly website

There are lots of great benefits of having a sustainable and eco-friendly website, but some of the biggest is that it pollutes less compared to other websites and that the data is becoming more accessible to people living in areas with slow internet.

When we use eco-friendly methods to lower the total size of a website and optimize it as well as we can, then the outcome is that less data has to be downloaded by the visitor. Less data means that your website will load faster on cellular connections such as 3G or slow 4G. I know you are probably thinking that those speeds are part of the past, and that's true for some. In fact, there are still many places around the world where 3G and slow 4G is everyday life, so to them, less data means a better experience and faster loading speeds.

Besides the obvious benefits for the environment and visitors with slow internet speeds, you as a website owner can also gain from it. When we optimize a website and lower the site weight, we also improve the overall loading speed which will help our SEO position on search engines such as Google and Bing. This means you can save money and gain more organic visitors just by applying eco-friendly methods to your website.

Why isn't it more expensive to build an eco-friendly website?

This is the topic that I know you have been waiting for since the beginning of this article, and to start it off I would like to say: Building a sustainable and eco-friendly website is not more expensive than building a traditional and possibly bloated one, and now I will explain why.

When you are in the planning stage of building your website you automatically ask yourself many questions like

  • What should my website look like?
  • Where should I host my website?
  • What kind of content do I want on my website?

The list of questions goes on and on, but these are some of the common questions that might come up. In the design stage, you look for designs, themes, or inspiration for your website, and instead of looking for bloated or heavy designs then you can look for minimalistic designs that for example have darker colors and less to no animations.

Once you have found a design that fits your website then you can go on to look for green hosting. Many underestimate the value of a hosting company running on 100% renewable energy, but if you think about it for a moment, then the hosting will be the one sending all the data to your visitors, and if you can ensure that all the energy used 24 hours every day to host your website comes from 100% renewable sources, then you have already removed a huge polluting part. Switching to a green hosting company is an easy and quick step that you can do no matter if you are building a new website or if you want to make an existing website more eco-friendly.

Many of the aspects of a sustainable and eco-friendly website are already taking their place in the planning stage, and if you already know which green web hosting company you want to go with and what design you'd like, then you are well on your way. Building a minimalistic design with optimized images and content is both as easy and as fast as building a design with images and content that are not optimized. The reason for that is that you or the developers are writing the code no matter what, you are editing the images no matter what, you are choosing a web host no matter what and you are creating the content for the website no matter what. Optimizing is just a part of each of those processes.

Hosting and website design is of course not the only things you can do to make your website more eco-friendly, but it is some of the quick things to fix that have a huge impact on your score. After the website is built you will of cause have to continue your work which includes optimizing your images by size and formatusing WOFF and WOFF2 fontsdeciding on a page-weight budget, and deciding when your content is going to die

So why exactly isn't it more expensive to build an eco-friendly website? Because if planned well then it won't take more time to design and code or set up an eco-friendly website compared to a traditional and potentially bloated one, and if your website is already done then you can make a big impact just by switching to a 100% green web hosting company. You have to build the site to get a website, and you have to create content and add the images. By simply adding optimization to each step or process you are doing something to make your website more eco-friendly and if it for some reason took a bit longer to create the website then you will gain it back again later when you save money in various categories such as marketing and customer value.

5 green and eco-friendly web hosting companies

Green web hosting companies are not more expensive than the traditional ones, and to prove it we have made a list of the 5 best web hosting companies running on green energy.

  • GreenGeeks - Regular price per month: $10.95
  • Kualo - Regular price per month: £6.99
  • Dreamhost - Regular price per month: $2.99
  • Hostpapa - Regular price per month: $3.95
  • FatCow - Regular price per month: $6.95

2 eco-friendly and sustainable web designers and agencies

To also give you an idea of what designers and developers work with sustainable and eco-friendly web design costs, then we have added a few below. (The price listed here is either the starting price depending on the project or an example price from a fictive project)

  • GreenTheWeb - Starting price is approximate 2.000€
  • Red Giraffe - 5 pages brochure site for approximately £4,000 (Offers a discount to companies who can show they are actively working towards net-zero or have a strong focus on sustainability).

Wrapping up

In this article, we talked about whether building an eco-friendly website is more expensive than building a common one, and the result we got is that it does not cost you more. In fact, it can cost you less depending on the preparations you do.

We hope that you got the answer you were searching for. If not, please feel free to comment below, then we will try our best to answer. You are also more than welcome to comment if you have things to add to this article or if you want to share your experience.

Lastly, we would like to encourage you to share this article with your colleagues, friends, and family. Sharing this article helps spread awareness and helps us make the internet more sustainable.


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