Before you redesign your website or service, it is important to understand the current impact and the areas that you can improve.

  • In the case of a new service, it might be interesting to assess the service of a competitor or from a comparable space to avoid making the same mistakes. Measure the impact of the user experience on comparable websites. Then try to evaluate the number of users, the required equipment, and the impact of your service, as best as you can, in order to guide the choices you’re going to make later.
  • If you start with an existing service to be redesigned, assess the environmental impact of the user journey to be able to identify the areas of improvement and the best practices that can be implemented.

The questions to be answered

For an existing service:

  • What is the environmental impact of the user journey?
  • What are the major areas of improvement?

For a new service:

  • What are the negative impacts of the product or service in the short and long term?
  • What would happen if 100 million people use your service?
  • Do the benefits of your product outweigh its negative impacts?

Assess the impact of the user journey

After defining the functional unit, for example “purchasing a train ticket online” and the use scenario, use a tool like GreenIT Analysis to evaluate the environmental footprint of the user journey.

GreenIT Analysis works on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, and uses the functionalities of both (environmental footprint and performance) and (best practices assessment).

By analyzing each page of the journey and saving the results each time, you get a global score as well as areas of improvements with the option “Activate best practices analysis”.

Important: The evaluation of the environmental impact from these tools does not replace a real audit and a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by experts.

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Define environmental limits

Just as we impose financial or time constraints to a digital project, we can impose environmental constraints. For example, what is the maximum that my page should weigh to be viewed quickly under certain conditions (network, device, etc.)?

If we take the example of a train timetable site. Users may want to use it on the train before arriving at the station, with a potentially low bandwidth, and from a smartphone. Under these conditions, considering that the site must be displayed in less than 3 seconds to avoid an excessively high bounce rate, how heavy should the page be? The performance budget website allows you to calculate it quickly.

Decreasing the time to load the page can help to reduce the amount of time the user spends on their phone, and as a consequence reduce the battery consumption. It goes without saying that users might not wait for the page to load if it takes too long.

More info

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Authors of the guide: Aurélie Baton and Anne Faubry.