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CASE STUDIES

Dezeen: cutting carbon emissions

As part of our ongoing work with Dezeen, the world’s most popular architecture, interiors and design magazine, we helped them embed sustainability into their service offering. How? By optimising website performance, without compromising on the high-quality media assets required for the site. As a result, we helped the publication significantly reduce their carbon emissions.

73.6%

Reduction in carbon emissions from the site

58.3%

Improvement in page loading times

1,058

Tonnes of CO2 saved per year

The Challenge

It’s no revelation that all companies must undergo fundamental change to truly embed ESG into the heart of their strategies. And, while areas like supply chain might seem most obvious to tackle, action must be taken by businesses to address the hidden carbon cost associated with websites.

By its nature, Dezeen has and requires lots of data-rich content; over 750,000 high-resolution images, video files and interactive designs, all of which create a rich browsing experience for its users. This meant that, as revealed by emission tracking service EcoPing, each page load produced approximately 19.32g of CO2 (10 times the average for a webpage). Within the context of Dezeen’s 2020 traffic, the estimated amount of CO2 produced was 2.1 billion grams – the equivalent of flying one person from Amsterdam to New York 3,130 times.

So, they needed to make significant changes without compromising on user experience. And fast.

Our in-house design team, Den Creative, have a long-standing relationship with Dezeen, working together for many years to shape their site and digital roadmap. Given the facts regarding website emissions, Dezeen challenged us to reduce their carbon footprint considerably, without compromising the user experience and high-quality media assets required.

The Approach

Working closely with EcoPing, we conducted benchmarking to identify the data-heavy features contributing to the site’s high energy consumption. Speed is inextricably linked to data transfer and carbon emissions, so by doing work to benchmark the data transferred with each page load and its speed, we were able to build a clear understanding of where to focus our attention. We identified three targets of optimisation: Media optimisation – to reduce the amount of data requested and processed with each page load without compromising on image or video quality. Code optimisation – by removing obsolete or inefficient code. And finally infrastructure optimisation – to ensure back-end systems are performing optimally.

And we delivered at pace, introducing changes over the course of 12 weeks.

The Impact

Just two weeks after all code changes were implemented, emissions per page fell from 21g to 7.18g – a reduction of 66%. In addition, the average page load was reduced to 3.5s, a fall of 58.3%. This dramatically improved the user experience of the site. Research has demonstrated that even an incremental improvement of just 0.1s in page load time can generate significant benefits for conversions, bounce rate, lead generation and site referrals across a range of industries – so, this will carry significant benefits for the business’ bottom line.

While the code changes implemented have drastically reduced Dezeen’s carbon footprint, there is still work to be done. The nature of our partnership means we’ll work with Dezeen to ensure the site is continually optimised and sustainable development practices are adopted moving forward. This is just one example of how we support our clients through the entire journey, from ideation to design, implementation and roll-out.

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Bill Kingston

Partner