Your hotel may have implemented recycling, reduced water use, incorporated paperless check-ins, and installed smart room tech that regulates temperature and lighting—all in the name of sustainable hotel practices. But is your hotel website sustainable too?
Web designers are quick to recommend the latest website bells and whistles while SEO professionals flog the importance of generating more and more (and more) content, but at what cost? What may bring visitors to your website may also be bad for the environment.
There’s a common perception that what happens in our virtual and online realities doesn’t affect our physical ecologies—but what happens online does not simply stay online. For instance, every page view of an average website emits 1.76g of CO2. So as your page views grow, the greater your hotel’s climate impact. In this case, what’s good for business is not good for the environment. How can we reconcile this?
Rest assured, sustainable web design is not at odds with growing your web traffic. In fact, hotel websites that follow best practices in design and SEO will be both good for business and good for the planet. Ready to learn more? Let’s go.
What is Sustainable Web Design?
Sustainable web design considers the environmental impact of the internet and takes measures to reduce the website’s carbon footprint. This includes optimizing performance, adopting sustainable design principles, using a green web host, and reducing waste in the design process. Sustainable web design is a growing trend that will become more popular as awareness increases. Will you lead the way?
Optimize Web Performance
Optimizing your hotel website’s performance is crucial, especially since it affects Google rankings. Page speed is essential as 40% of visitors are more likely to abandon pages that take longer than three seconds to load.
When Google launched its Core Web Vitals algorithm in 2021, it emphasized the importance of how fast main content loaded, good visual stability (no jumping around while loading), and first input delay (how long it takes for the website to respond to user actions like clicking a link).
The good news is that the better your website’s performance, the lower its carbon footprint. It’s a win-win! Steps your hotel can take to optimize your website’s speed and sustainability include:
Compressing video and image sizes: Reducing the file size of multimedia content to minimize their impact on loading times and data usage saves energy and reduces carbon emissions.
Cleaning up CSS and unused code: Removing unnecessary code and optimizing the remainder to make web pages more efficient results in faster loading times and lower energy consumption.
Minimizing HTTP requests: Decreasing the number of requests a website makes to servers improves loading times and reduces energy consumption.
Sustainable design elements: The style of your website impacts your property’s ecological footprint too. Best practices include:
- Design for longevity: Rather than chasing the latest design trends, opt for a style and elements that won’t soon be outdated. A solid brand guide helps maintain consistency. Did you know that a single font can eat up more energy? Some as much as 250kb. System fonts—like Arial and Times New Roman—use less energy since they’re preloaded on user devices.
- Go for minimalism: Get max appeal through minimalist design. A simple, clutter-free design with easy navigation and plenty of white space decreases energy use and provides a pleasant user experience.
- Make it maintainable: Choosing a modular design makes your website easy to update by breaking it into independent components that can be modernized as needed. Efficient coding practices, such as consistent naming conventions and avoiding redundant code, support faster performance and less energy consumption.
Green Web Hosting
A web hosting service stores and maintains website files on a server and makes its customers’ websites available for viewing online. When choosing a web host, consider:
Green energy: Opt for companies that use low-carbon energy sources such as wind and hydro.
Energy credits / carbon offsets: Look for companies that offset their carbon through renewable energy credits (RECs) or environmental initiatives/partnerships, such as tree planting.
Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE): PUE is the standard energy efficiency measure for data centers. It measures the proportional difference between how much power is used for computers versus other systems onsite such as cooling and lighting. Look for a hosting provider with a good PUE rating; the lower the number the better, with 1.0 being a perfect score.
Content Delivery Network (CDN): Using servers closest to your audience consumes the least energy. However, as a hotel with guests from around the world, look for hosts with a CDN network instead, which distributes your website assets (namely images and videos) around the world across multiple servers. This results in a faster load time due to the reduced distance the data must travel.
Create Mindful Content
Creating content simply to shout into the internet factory for attention is neither sustainable nor helpful. There is an SEO attitude that believes the more content there is, the better, and the demand for content seems to be insatiable. New AI platforms make it easier than ever to churn out more and more pages of content, striving for almighty keyword saturation.
A “less is more” attitude can be a relief! Focus on creating helpful and valuable content that your guests will appreciate. This will reduce bounce rates, increase time spent on your website, and decrease energy consumption.
When we talk about sustainability, your carbon footprint is important, but we must also consider your time, the resources you put into your website, and the time of your guests. If your website is cluttered with unnecessary content, it simply wastes everyone’s time.
Plant a Tree
There are numerous initiatives you can take to offset the carbon footprint of your website. Planting trees is one idea, but we recommend working with a carbon offset program that accurately measures your impact. NativeEnergy, for example, allows you to select an ongoing project to support and recommends an amount to pay to offset your impact.
The Website Carbon Calculator is a great tool for testing your website’s impact with practical measurement examples, such as how many trees are equivalent to the amount of carbon your site emits in a year.
Sustainable web design is becoming increasingly important as awareness of environmental issues grows. In addition to greener operational initiatives, hotels can take steps to reduce their website’s carbon footprint as well. By definition, sustainable web design is an extension of your customer service since it not only puts the planet first but people too. Every measure mentioned in this article—from useful content to minimalistic design to condensed media files—reduces energy consumption and increases efficiency, creating a high-performance website in the process. The result is less friction for your visitors and increased bookings—all while making the planet a little greener.