Here in sunny Stockport I’m noticing more signs of Spring emerging every day: buds on trees, birdsong, and snowdrops popping up everywhere.
The environment has also been on my mind in the world of web design. ‘Eco-friendly web design’ seems to have become a popular buzz phrase but I’m not convinced such a thing actually exists.
Digital carbon emissions are difficult to comprehend but the truth is running any website requires energy and generates carbon.
But all isn’t lost! There’s a lot you can do to ensure your website has a low carbon footprint. I’ve written more about the topic of low-carbon web design in a blog post that also lists lots of practical things you can do to make your site greener.
Also in this month’s newsletter, I share advice on how to choose a great website hosting package (a key part to reducing your digital carbon footprint), while Bo the trusty web design hound has tips to reduce contact form spam!
As always, if you have any questions or comments about this month’s newsletter please drop me a message. If you are working to minimise your online footprint on I’d love to hear from you!
Low-carbon vs eco-friendly web design
No website can truly be carbon neutral or negative. However, there’s plenty you can do to make sure the carbon footprint of your site is as small as possible.
I’ve written a blog post to highlight some of the factors you may want to consider to reduce the carbon footprint of your site. This includes, among other things:
- Clever design
- Conscious content strategy
- High-quality development
- Good SEO
- Sustainable hosting
The good news is there’s plenty you can do yourself, and even a small improvement will make a difference!
Tips for choosing good website hosting
Website hosting is neither glamorous nor exciting to talk about. However, if you get this right it can really make a huge contribution to the success of your site.
Great hosting will help your site:
- load fast,
- have a smaller carbon footprint,
- be automatically be backed up in case anything goes wrong, and
- be more secure against getting hacked.
Worth it, right?
SEO course progress: Lesson 6 coming soon!
The first 5 lessons in my SEO video course for small businesses are already live, with early birds working their way through the videos.
I’m currently working on lesson 6, where things get a bit more technical (but not too technical!).
You can still buy the course at the early bird price of £200. The price will go up when all 8 lessons are live.
At the moment I’m researching affiliate schemes, whereby you will be able to refer people to the course and earn a bit of commission. If this is something that interests you, or you have experience of running such a scheme, I’d love to hear from you!
Bo’s tips for reducing contact form spam
I once signed up to a butcher’s email newsletter but all I got was spam… (and dogs aren’t allowed spam, as it turns out).
Paul is always waging war on spam (the online variety, not the meaty one), so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve observed him do (I’m a great watchdog).
- Install an antispam honeypot to trap the bots (WordPress users can try the Contact Form 7 Honeypot plugin)
- If you use Contact Form 7, make use of the keyword blacklist to block repeat offenders
- Avoid putting your forms on every page, as this increases the chance that bots can find it and fill it in
- If all else fails, the most effective blocker is the Akismet antispam plugin. It costs £80 per year but it pays for itself in time saved from all the distractions.
- Paul also has a crazy theory that not calling your contact page Contact helps put off the bots but he could be barking up the wrong tree!
- Avoid using Google ReCaptcha. This is essentially a tracking script which not only slows down your site, but also passes your visitors’ personal data to Google.
Elsewhere on the Internet…
Tales from people ditching their smartphone
As you may know I’m a big fan of digital minimalism so I was interested to read this BBC article on people deciding to ditch their smartphone. I experimented with using a basic ‘banana phone‘ a while back and the lack of distractions was wonderful! These days I’ve re-enlisted my smartphone but generally have it switched off unless I want to message someone.
Yoga in the digital world
It’s been fantastic to see my yoga teacher Daria grow her online offering over the past two years. As well as now offering online classes to people around the world, High on Yoga‘s new online courses is a really great example of a business using digital technology to not only serve a wider audience, but also provide a more in-depth service that can be accessed at each student’s leisure.
Search & Rescue
The UK’s new Information Commissioner John Edwards gave a (surprisingly) interesting interview in the Big Issue North covering people’s right to privacy, updates to GDPR laws (expect to see the end of cookie popups) and the effect of Freedom of Information requests.