Green UX: Designing Now for a Sustainable Future

Green UX

A viewpoint by Juan Álvarez, Experienced Consultant at Amaris Consulting.

Did you know the digital economy accounts for about 3.7% of the global greenhouse emissions, nearly the same as the aviation industry? Imagine a digital world that not only enhances our lives but also protects the planet. This is no longer a far-off dream, but a rapidly unfolding reality in the era of Green User Experience (UX) and Eco-design. These pioneering concepts are ushering in a bold revolution, transforming the digital landscape from a silent consumer into an active protector of our environment. Welcome to the digital frontier where functionality meets sustainability, reshaping how we conceive, create, and consume digital products.

At Amaris Consulting, we recognize the critical role of sustainable design and its potential to shape a greener future. Read on to discover the transformative power of sustainable design principles and how it can pave the way for a more environmentally responsible digital experience.

The urgent call for green action

To begin with, when we design more environmentally friendly websites or applications, it is crucial to consider their energy consumption. This generally refers to the electricity used by the servers hosting the websites, the data centers storing the data, and the devices, such as smartphones or computers, on which these apps or websites are utilized. The more data a digital product needs to process, and the more complex its tasks are, the more energy it uses.

According to a study by the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies in 2022, data centers significantly contribute to the environmental impact. For instance, in the European Union, they account for 2.7% of electricity demand. This is particularly notable in Ireland, where the electricity usage of data centers represented over 14% of the total electricity consumption in 2021.

Furthermore, the study highlights the considerable water demand of data centers for their cooling and maintenance systems, a significant concern given the increasing scarcity of this resource. The study showed that 20% of data centers in the United States are located in watersheds that are under stress due to drought and other factors.

These figures emphasize the urgent need for sustainable practices. Although data centers are implementing renewable energies and exploring new locations, there is still a long road ahead.

Choose wisely

The optimization of digital products is important to reduce their resource consumption and environmental impact. Through the integration of sustainable design principles, including energy efficiency, longevity, data minimization and green hosting, UX designers have the potential to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of websites and applications. While prioritizing accessibility , these design practices continue to deliver captivating digital experiences. However, the transformation extends to users as well. By consciously opting for platforms that champion sustainable practices, we become active advocates for a greener digital environment and propel the adoption of eco-friendly solutions.

To assess the environmental impact of websites and applications, we need to consider several factors such as weight, power consumption and data consumption. For example, digital products with larger file sizes, excessive animations, or autoplay videos, among other resource-intensive features, typically require more energy to transfer and load. This increased energy usage contributes to higher carbon emissions. To simplify, if you come across a website or application that offers you far more than what you truly need or are seeking, it probably lacks optimization.

Nowadays, many companies have embraced transparency by openly sharing information about their sustainability efforts. This can also help us evaluate the environmental impact of their website or application with greater accuracy. Another reliable way to identify environmentally conscious digital products is by seeking out energy efficiency labels or certifications. Such indicators can help users spot digital products that are committed to sustainability.

Make a difference

While these indicators are valuable guides when browsing or using a smartphone, they can also inspire us to envision a new landscape for digital consumption. By making informed choices and supporting platforms that prioritize sustainable practices we catalyze a larger movement towards a greener digital world. The choice of energy-efficient digital products and the commitment to reduce resource consumption become more than personal choices, they become a collective statement of intent.

Through this shared commitment, we have the potential to redefine our relationship with digital technology. We can transform it from a source of environmental concern into a tool for global sustainability. Together, we can create not just an environmentally responsible future, but a digital revolution that stands as a testament to our commitment to preserving our planet for generations to come.

At Amaris Consulting we not only prioritize the use of sustainable products but also design them. Explore our Sustainability Center of Excellence here and witness our commitment to sustainability in action!

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