This is a series of diary entries about our journey to a cleaner site. You can check out our full Green For Good pledge here.
In this diary entry we are looking at the first pillar of our pledge: “Our site will be green to the foundations”. Hosting and serving up a site, as well as its tech stack, are major contributors to its carbon footprint. We’ll be ensuring that what sits behind our site is as green as can be.
12/12/2021- Laurent Brickell- Technical Director
We’ve adding web server caching, by using this we can reduce the impact of calling 3rd party systems for non DRM fonts.
For example we can cache our .woff font files by supporting long term caching in Nginx. This also has the benefit of improving Web Vital scores for mobile, as Google prefers long caching headers on font files as they almost never change.
This font caching has its biggest effects on mobile devices, therefore we used tooling to simulate the effects of our changes on mobile.
We simulated using an iPhone device on a 3G network instead of standard desktop. Caching typically only has a small impact on carbon on desktop when we use a calculator that just looks at page size, however if we consider the impact of wireless signal transmissions and additional compute power required, we are making a decent impact for such a tiny amount of effort to change. Lower power devices can also take longer to process fonts that desktop devices.
Removing heavy tracking
1/01/22- Laurent Brickell- Technical Director
3rd party tracking systems can consume a lot of energy, if you consider how much traffic a site gets and all the data points collected for each user. Many companies use multiple tracking systems often collecting the same data! This is particularly bad in large enterprises where teams are siloed and do not share data, leading to a lot of duplication that often does not match up. By reducing our tracking to one system and consolidating what we can, we can make a reduction on the requests needed and 3rd party processing required.
To do this we have eliminated our use of Google Analytics. The reason we did this is because we use Hubspot to collect form data and run our cookie consent, so we already need to run Hubspot tracking on our website for things to function. GA collected almost identical data when it comes to general information, such as visits, bounce rate and page statistics; so it made sense to just switch to using Hubspot completely and having our internal teams access one system.
We’ve removed all other kinds of tracking and now rely on one provider that is lightweight.
This is a small change and hard to quantify due to the closed nature of Google Analytics, but one can imagine the computing power saved over the span of months would be enough tea for the office!
We’ll be back soon with another update looking at another area we’ve tackled to improve our site. In the meantime you might be interested in this article on the carbon footprint of the Internet which contains some interesting facts.
11/05/22- Luke Whitaker- SEO Consultant
The decision to use Google Analytics as the leading source of website data for Organic has been made due to a range of factors. Whilst referenced throughout this document, the overriding reason is the clear lead in uses and ease of integration that Google Analytics offers. However, a range of factors have been considered before reaching a closing comment.
Whilst Google Analytics may not directly looks to combat its enviromental impact, Google has started to announce ways in which it is looking to improve this. It could be that soon they look to improve the impact that Google Analytics has.
It is important to remember that all competitors charge some sort of fee, whilst Google Analytics remains free. This saving could be used to allocate resource on reducing our websites environmental impact in otherways if desired.
Ease of use factors
Google Analytics easily integrates with a range of other tools and has also been used by specialists for many years. For these reasons, using it often leads to quicker work and less frustration for users. Furthermore, tracking of events is also relatively easy to set-up and allows for succinct marketing campaigns that have proven results.
Google Analytics offers reporting capabilities that are much more in-depth and easy to source than many competitors. Whilst the environmental impact may be questionable, Google will probably not ignore this forever and the cost of the software along with all of the other factors mentioned above make it the logical choice for Organic.
Non system font reduction
TBC- Laurent Brickell- Technical Director
We currently use 4 versions of a Google font, one for each weight class of the font.
We could reduce our reliance on a Google font and swap certain text to use a system font which removing the need to load that font remotely.
We are currently exploring what this means for our brand, and we’re in talks of implement system fonts in the coming months…