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The 6 best books about sustainable web design

Even though sustainable web design has been around for a while, there isn't much material explaining the concept. Learning ethical and environmentally friendly web design can be a long road when you don't have the proper learning material. In this article, we have gathered six of the best books covering the subject so that you can get started right away.

1# Sustainable Web Design - Tom Greenwood

"Sustainable Web Design" is a book written by the owner of Wholegrain Digital, Tom Greenwood. The book covers the basics of sustainable web design and how we need to change the way we do web designs today. 

Tom explains: As our internet speeds and devices become faster, we create more demanding websites. But instead, we should focus on making our websites lighter and more accessible. Lighter and more accessible websites will make your websites load faster and make them accessible to people living in areas with slow internet speeds.

In the summer of 2021, we made a book review of Tom Greenwood's book. You can read the full review and the included FAQ by clicking the link:

If you want to get inspired to change how you create web designs and learn lots of facts, then "Sustainable Web Design" is something for you. You can buy the book at ABookAparts website by following the link below:

2# Designing for sustainability - Tim Frick

"Designing for sustainability" is an excellent book written by Tim Frick, and it explains why the internet is such a big polluter. Tim paints a picture by mentioning: If the internet were a country it would be the 6th biggest polluter out of all countries.

By reading "Designing for sustainability" you will learn stuff such as:

  • 90% of the data on the internet was created from 2015 and forward.
  • Learn to use sustainable principles to innovate design and reduce waste.
  • You will get a general understanding of green hosting and green business practices.
  • You will learn how to stream video the right way and how to increase your website's search engine optimization.

To get your copy of "Designing for sustainability" please follow the link:

3# Sustainable Web Ecosystem Design - Greg O'Toole

“Sustainable Web Ecosystem Design” is written by Greg O’Toole in 2013, and it is about how you create sustainable web designs and content. In our media-rich world, we need to find a balance between showing digital media and using sustainable methods. The balance is now tipping to the wrong side, but by thinking about how we create content we can change it again. 

In this book, you will learn how to balance design and content by looking at modules and media. By combining these methods your website will become more sustainable. 

If you are interested in buying “Sustainable Web Ecosystem Design” please follow the link:

4# The Ethical Design Handbook

If you are looking for an all-around guide on how to get started with ethical design, then this is the book. "The Ethical Design Handbook" starts by explaining why we need to use ethical design and then goes on to what ethical design is. You will dive into the business aspect of ethical design, learn the best practices and learn how you make a difference using these principles.

In the design community this book is described as a "Can't live without" thing and if you want to get your copy, please follow the link:

5# Design is the solution - Nathan Shedroff

"Design is the solution" is an update to the book "Design is the problem" which was written by Nathan Shedroff in 2009. In this new update, you will learn about several things that will improve the way you make sustainable websites such as:

  • Frameworks
  • Tooling
  • Analysis 
  • Design
  • Process

If you are interested in getting your copy, please follow the link:

6# World wide waste - Gerry McGovern

If you are new to sustainable web design and maybe still don't understand the big picture of how polluting the internet is, then "World wide waste" is the book for you. You start your journey with a picture of the cloud being in the cloud, but quickly that picture gets replaced with a real-world image of how much data centers pollute. 

"World wide waste" is an eye-opener, and just to give you a small demonstration of some of the facts listed on Gerry McGovern's website:

  • It takes 1.6 billion trees to offset the pollution coming from email spam.
  • It would take 1.5 billion trees to offset the pollution from webshop returns in the US.
  • It takes 231 million trees to deal with the pollution caused by US citizens surfing the internet every year.
  • It takes 16 million trees to offset the estimated 1.9 trillion Google searches every year.

Take a moment to let the numbers seep in. The numbers are shocking and it is numbers like these that made us start SustainableWWW in the first place. There is not much focus on this area of pollution, but that is something we are trying to change. This book describes it pretty well and if you are looking for an eye-opener you should consider reading "World wide waste".

Click here to read more about the book and to buy a copy


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