Republished from a column about how I approach design in terms of sustainability and accessibility
When it comes to how design plays a role in making websites accessible, we start with the fundamentals. Firstly, what's the point? Does this website need to be built and does it have a clear goal in mind? Do your users actually exist and will your website help them get the job done? Once we know a client’s goals, it is our role to prescribe a solution to help maximise impact for them. In the context of sustainability, this is an important point because we want to advocate for the efficient use of resources and not wastefulness. Some websites are built to be short-term or promotional, whereas another channel can be just as effective.
Our main focus will be helping the user to achieve specific tasks, which we can map out via user journeys, before prototyping and testing how to help them achieve this goal and optimising key conversion points. This is aligned with sustainability best practices because the longer it takes to complete a task, the more electricity is being consumed, time wasted and higher emissions generated. This is why tracking the user journey, testing and iterating is so important — it's a win for our users and a win for sustainability.
From an artistic standpoint, it’s a bit trickier. We want to design experiences that resonate, stand out and that will be remembered on an emotional level. This means forging deeper connections with our audience, surprising them with delightful moments yet also earning their trust in the process. In essence, we want to build a brand. Rich media visuals and animation effects may not ‘need’ to be on the page when we solely think about conversion rate or page speed, but they are instrumental in providing the cohesive experience that we want to represent whatever brand we are working with.
But taking a step back, this also means not wasting our users’ time. So we want to organise our site navigation in a logical fashion to help make pages as easy as possible to find, ensure webpages load fast and that any transactions appear as seamless as possible.
Thanks for reading,May 7, 2023 :: Sustainability & Design