How we supported local businesses to reduce their digital carbon footprint while also improving user experience
If the internet was a country, it would be the seventh-largest polluter in the world and is growing all the time.
Despite this, businesses are only just waking up to the digital economy’s impact on the environment.
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils wanted to be at the forefront of tackling digital pollution while supporting local businesses to grow.
Research on the impact of digital carbon footprints is an emerging area of practice.
Information on reducing digital pollution is often buried in academic literature or written for a technical audience. It, therefore, takes considerable time and effort to work out what constitutes best practice. This can be overwhelming for small businesses and a barrier to action.
Making it easier for businesses to reduce digital pollution
Sustainable Results Lab reviewed the research to develop easy-to-implement steps on how businesses can reduce their digital carbon footprint.
We focused on showing how reducing digital carbon emissions is also good for business. For example, taking steps to green your site:
- Speeds up your website
- Improves user experience
- Makes it easier for customers to find you by improving search engine optimisation.
As well as a practical guide for local businesses, Sustainable Results Lab worked closely with the councils’ business support team to:
- Develop the core messaging for a six-week awareness-raising campaign
- Run a workshop on how to reduce your businesses’ digital carbon footprint while increasing impact
- Hold an internal briefing for councillors, officials, and internal stakeholders
- 30 campaign messages were shared on South and Value Business Support social media platforms over six weeks
- These messages generated 10,444 impressions and 380 engagements
- 45 people requested our guide on how to reduce their business’ digital carbon footprint, a conversion rate of 12%
- 18 people attended our workshop on how to green the web
Workshop delegates said:
- “This is extremely thought-provoking, and I will be looking at our website from a new perspective.”
- “Totally inspired – so glad I joined you today.”
- “Fantastic – perfect – just what we need. I wish everyone knew all this; thank you!”
As a result of the campaign, the South and Vale Business Support team made numerous changes to their website, including:
- Reducing image size by 70% using a compression tool called TinyPNG.
- Decreasing the number of pages by 50% by culling out of date content
- Creating a better user experience by restructuring the site and reorganising the menu to have fewer options.
Sophie Evans, Marketing Lead at South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, said:
These changes significantly reduced our website’s digital pollution, but also drastically improved user experience. It’s now much easier and quicker for people to find the information they need. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Ruth for enabling us to carry out these changes. Without her, we wouldn’t have had a clue where to start with this journey!
Sophie and the team now have a roadmap of other improvements they plan to implement to make even more impact.
“We are redesigning our home page and removing the image carousel, as well as thinking about changing the blue and green colours seen throughout our website, all of which use a lot of energy,” she explains.
On working with Sustainable Results Lab, Karen Tolley, Economic Development Lead at the councils, said:
Ruth is an inspiration to work with. Her straightforward approach ensured the campaign was successful, producing an easy-to-use toolkit for businesses in South and Vale. Her ongoing support has been amazing helping us to identify and implement solutions for our own website.
Ready to join the movement to green the web? Download our guide to reducing your digital carbon footprint while boosting business growth