W3C Publishes Web Sustainability Guidelines Draft

Website Design | |

In exciting news for web sustainability, W3C has published the Web Sustainability Guidelines (WSG) 1.0 as a first draft. There are teams across the world that helped make this happen – with 230 pages, 93 guidelines and 232 success criteria, references and examples.

Publishing this document is a move forward for all things web, providing practical advice on factors to help people take action and make web design more sustainable, with the hopes that policy-makers and the Government will include digital sustainability in climate targets moving forward.

What are the Web Sustainability Guidelines?

The guidelines are inspired by WCAG, and reflect ESG principles outlined in the Sustainable Web Manifesto, and align with GRI standards.

The goal of these guidelines is to give solid guidance on data based research, to improve emission reductions.

They look at five different areas:

  1. UX Design
  2. Web Development
  3. Hosting & Infrastructure
  4. Product & Business Strategy
  5. Business Metrics

Read the full draft specification here or if you’d prefer, read the guidelines at a glance.

Why Were the Sustainability Guidelines Made?

Now, more than ever, sustainability is on everyone’s minds, and as a global community we all should be taking this seriously as it’s an issue that affects us all. Whilst other aspects of our everyday life have had a strong focus on sustainability, the internet shouldn’t be missed.

Contrary to popular belief, the internet uses a lot of carbon and everyday activities can impact your carbon footprint, in fact the digital industry is now responsible for between 2-5% of global emissions. Your website emits carbon in multiple ways, including the composition, design and location of the site.

What’s more, since the Paris Agreement in 2015, average page sizes have increased by over 70% on desktop and 140% on mobile, indicating that there is still lots more to be done.

Raising awareness of these things is the first step to change. Over the last year especially, companies are being called out for greenwashing, whilst ethical brands are continuing to gain consumer trust, thus helping them to gain traction and increase in popularity.

The Benefits of Web Sustainability Guidelines

The current guidance on digital sustainability is disorganised and can be hard for organisations to interpret and implement, meaning there is a need for new guidelines that all users can read and understand.

The guidelines are created from reputable sources and real data from real people, with feedback from real website users all over the world. Over 50 individuals – including web developers, designers, environmentalists, sustainability experts, academics, and business leaders – participated in group activities to contribute to the specification.

Together, a widespread adoption of these guidelines can reduce global carbon emissions.

Next Steps

The great thing about these draft guidelines is that they are welcoming feedback and implementing monthly evaluation meetings, to help make them the best they can be. Once they are tweaked and tested, the guidelines will roll out to the wider community, to then reach the mainstream media with the hopes of the government adding web sustainability to mainstream policies.

Although the new guidelines are not yet live, as a web developer or business, it is a great opportunity to read through them and become an early adopter.

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Rebecca helps to keep the team organised and supports all of our clients with day to day activities and content. She also runs all of Ballyhoo's internal marketing.