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Website Design, App Design Both Culprits of Excess Energy Consumption

Better energy efficiency should be a goal of nearly every industry, and information technology (IT) is no exception. There have been many green IT projects circulating throughout the IT community in recent years, but most of them involve disposing of inefficient hardware or infrastructure design – things that the companies would likely do anyways. But really, excess energy consumption in the IT field can largely be attributed to the way software applications and Internet sites are designed.

One example was found by an energy profiler app for smartphone apps called eprof, which studied the effectiveness of design on apps for Android and Windows Mobile. Its high-level findings concluded that 65 to 75 percent of the energy used for free apps goes toward running the advertisement modules (free apps are free to the user because of advertising). The mobile app must constantly call on the phone’s communications modules to gather advertising information – and that uses a lot of energy.

There is another discussion to be had about the way software design and energy consumption relate when it comes to website design. A series of posts by the Sustainable Virtual Design blog addressed the topic of which was “greener,” Web publishing or offline (print) publishing.

From that, experts have drawn two main conclusions:

  1. The more complicated a website design, the more energy will be expended. So simplicity isn’t only user friendly, it reduces the energy consumption.
  2. For small bits of information, the Internet is ideal; but for large volumes of text, the printed form is probably more environmentally friendly overall.

This may be surprising when one considers the print manufacturing process, but experts argue, “The web is least sustainable in the ‘long form.’ In other words, if we spend a long time accessing information on the web, its cost rises to match the same information put into physical form. Quickly skimming the news online is ‘green,’ while reading a long form news source online will be less green. In the latter case, you’re better off getting the printed magazine.”

Of course, those specializing in website design can still embrace energy efficient techniques, like the aforementioned “less is more” design philosophy, if they are concerned about energy consumption. Business owners who aim to establish green business practices should tell their website design company if this is a concern for them.

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