Eco-design, a good marriage with the customer experience ?
- 17 May 2022
Eco-design, a good marriage with the customer experience?
There are two prejudices very strong on the construction of an eco-responsible site.
The first is to think of eco-design as an essentially technical subject: which CMS or which libraries to use, how to manage the data, which hosting to choose...
The second is to imagine that eco-design means a lot of compromise for the brand and the customer experience.
And yet, you only have to look at the subject to understand that eco-design perfectly combines customer experience and limiting carbon impact. This is what I will try to present to you in this article.
WHY ECO-DESIGN? SOME FIGURES ON THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL
In 2019, 4% of greenhouse gas emissions were due to digital (aviation accounted for 2%).
Digital also has many other environmental impacts:
- primary energy and water consumption,
- impact on biodiversity,
- extraction of natural resources,
- pollutions due to electronic waste, whose recycling rate is only 17.5%
Not to mention the social and political impacts (tensions on raw materials, role of minerals in the financing of armed conflicts in Africa and Asia, hence the designation of «conflict minerals»).
Eco-designing digital services makes them less resource-intensive and lengthens the lifespan of devices.
👉 📈14Kb in 1995 versus 2.1Mb in 2021: in 26 years, the average weight of a web page was multiplied by 150.
👉 🧑🚀 In 1969, the Apollo Guidance Computer made it possible to send the first man on the Moon with only 4 ko of RAM
THE UNSUSPECTED VIRTUES OF ECO-DESIGN
An eco-designed site is a site that will load faster, and this better loading speed will have a double impact.
On the one hand, an impact on transformation: visitors appreciate a responsive site and will be more likely to choose your site rather than that of a competitor. In 2015, Etam increased its conversion rate by 20% following a decrease of 0.7 seconds in the average loading time of its pages.
On the other hand, an impact on SEO. Google favors optimized sites and gives them a better score and therefore a better visibility.
Better positioning, more sales, but also less spending: no maintenance on features that have been deemed not useful, less need for storage space for content that has been optimized.
Finally, your site will allow you to display a better image. Eco-designed, the essential features will help meet the real expectations of your users or customers; set you apart from the competition and advance on the path to sustainable development.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND ECO-DESIGN, A HAPPY MARRIAGE?
When we think about eco-design and website, we often hear these two comments:
1/ "an eco-designed site will be ugly, austere, etc."
So of course, the first sites claiming to be eco-designed are due to their approach being visible and adorned with shades ranging from green to kraft, with two-tone wept visuals. But there is no obligation to remain in these codes: on these aspects it is necessary to limit the number of colors used and to optimize the displayed images.
Some examples of sites that have reduced their environmental footprint
-64% CO2 impact
-84% CO2 impact
-72% CO2 impact
To find among a multitude of achievements here: https://lowww.directory/
2/ An eco-designed site will be basic/ without features for its users/ etc.
Again, it’s taking a shortcut. In eco-design, we use the term “functional unit”, which is the main function of the service. Each business unit may have several possible responses and the minimum response should be preferred.
For example, a user wants to know the location of a store. We can: display the address, display a plane as an image or display a 3D interactive map. The 3 respond to its functional unit, but the first 2 will consume less resources than the interactive map.
ECO-DESIGN IN PRACTICE
KNOWING THE IMPACT OF YOUR SITE IS KEY
Digital is considered immaterial, it is difficult to imagine its real impact and even more difficult to situate its site on a scale ranging from sobriety to excessive consumption.
Various tools are used to perform this measurement and assign a rating and give a CO2 equivalent value to the pages tested.
These values will allow you to compare yourself to your competitors and measure a before-after.
Let’s take two of the most visited websites in France: Le Figaro and Le Monde.
The home page produces the equivalent of 1.14 grams of CO2 each time someone visits the page. With a monthly traffic of 55 million visitors, we get 752 tons of CO2 equivalent each year, or 100 flights around the world.
The home page produces the equivalent of 0.56 grams of CO2 each time someone visits the page. With a monthly traffic of 44 million visitors, we get 295 tons of CO2 equivalent each year, or 39 flights around the world.
Admittedly, the Figaro has a 25% higher traffic in the World, but its impact is exponential: +156% than its competitor!
Once this awareness is realized, we can audit the site: its structure, its content and media, its functionalities, its code, and thus detect the first levers of action.
WHEN TO IMPLEMENT ECO-DESIGN?
The approach of eco-design of a site is present at every stage of the life of the site:
- the design of a site, the definition of its objectives
- the design of its functionalities and interfaces
- the development of its components
- the contribution of its contents
- the redesigns and evolutions of the functionalities
- the end-of-life of its services and content
- the choice of accommodation
WHO IS INVOLVED IN ECO-DESIGN?
The responsibility for the eco-design of a site never rests on one person: everyone has a role to play in the eco-design process.
Designers must re-examine needs, designers must create as accurately as possible, developers must optimize and be smart in their techniques, contributors must consider each content and decision-makers must both support and be the driving force behind this approach.
In eco-design, we want the user to spend as little time as possible on the site, which goes against traditional KPIs that seek an increase in average time per visit. We must not try to make a user captive to read article after article.
Frugality is having an approach that is contrary to our habits:
- limit functionality as necessary to avoid over-quality and gas plant effect
- think no longer with maximum thresholds but in terms of optimum and minimum acceptable to users
👉Eco-design is based on the principles of simplicity, frugality and relevance (utility + speed + accessibility).
Less is more, simple is smart !
GOOD PRACTICE IN ECO-DESIGN
Listen to your users
It is necessary to question the usefulness of each feature, each content: are these real user needs or are they the desires of the decision-maker?
User search methods identify their expectations and rank them in order of importance. KPIs should allow to quantify the actual use of each feature, the number of playback of each content.
Questions to keep in mind:
- what happens if this feature is removed?
- can we do otherwise?
- can we propose a more economical alternative?
Working on user journeys
Efficiency is sought: the user must be able to easily and efficiently perform the task that brought him to the site.
The complexity of each page of a journey must be questioned: is it too heavy or conversely too poor (fragmented journey)?
Each journey must be designed to improve efficiency. In turn, shortening the journey increases the processing rate.
Design a digital service that adapts to different screens
A service that adapts to several screen sizes will be able to be used by a larger number of people over a longer period of time, whatever the evolution of the terminals.
The “mobile first” design is to be preferred: Internet users surf more on mobile than on any other medium, and the constrained format imposes to go to the essential.
In the same way, we prefer a web application to a mobile application: lighter and independent of the OS version of the terminal, it also allows to manage offline uses.