Can design choices made by user experience and user interface designers reduce the impact their products and services have on the environment? The answer is yes. There are three main areas in which designers can focus on to help reduce their users' carbon emissions:
Almost 4.54 billion people were active internet users as of January 2020, encompassing 59% of the global population with China, India, and the United States ahead all other countries in terms of internet users. Power stations, most still using fossil fuels to power them, provide the electricity for data centers and mobile networks. Nearly 3.7% of total global carbon emissions come from internet usage.
A few things that designers can do: use darker colors in designs, optimize the performance of apps and websites (intuitive navigation and search functionality, lower resolution graphics, fewer graphics, reduce code bloat), and remove push notifications. These small changes can add up to be savings in electricity. Even designing emails to contain fewer graphics can have an impact on power usage!
Designers can include environmentally-friendly actions in the apps and websites they design (also called nudges).
Do you have any ideas for other environmentally-friendly "nudges" that could be included in your favorite mobile app or online service? Please share in the comments!
Are you designing something that is destined for the landfill? Bernard Yu of Green America asked UX designers to think more holistically about the entire lifecycle of the products we create, not just their effect on users.
Shopify suggests three basic questions to consider when designing new products:
These questions are a good place for UX designers to contemplate before starting their next project. If you have a product are there ways that you could improve its environmental impact? Leave some of your ideas in the comments below. If you're not sure, shoot me an email and we can talk about options for your website or mobile app.