why

The Internet is not an autonomous being. Its growing energy use is the consequence of actual decisions made by software developers, web designers, marketing departments, publishers and internet users.

To start with, the Internet already uses three times more energy than all wind and solar power sources worldwide can provide. Furthermore, manufacturing, and regularly replacing, renewable power plants also requires energy, meaning that if data traffic keeps growing, so will the use of fossil fuels.

Our new website is designed to radically reduce the energy use associated with accessing our content.

How

MADC’s website has been designed and developed by HYPER STUDIO from a coherent premise of low environmental impact. To design and develop this website we have followed the recommendations of ‘How to build a Low-Tech Website‘ article published in Low-Tech Magazine, plus some other decisions based on research.

Here we explain you how we did it:

 

Green Hosting

A hosting company’s prime resource is electricity. If that resource came from a 100% clean source of energy it would not pollute or generate any CO2 emisions to the atmosphere, and our residual footprint in the world would be minimal. Therefor we chose a hosting company whose policy is focused on green energy at all levels.

 

Dithered Images

The main challenge was to reduce page size without making the website less attractive. Because images take up most of the bandwidth, it would be easy to obtain very small page sizes and lower energy use by eliminating images, reducing their number, or making them much smaller. However, visuals are an important part of MADC’s work, and the website would not be the same without them.

Instead, we chose to apply an obsolete image compression technique called “dithering”. By dithering, we can make images ten times less resource-intensive, even though they are displayed quite large. The number of colours in an image, combined with its file format and resolution, contributes to the size of an image. Thus, instead of using full-colour high-resolution images, we chose to convert all images to black and white.

Only by clicking the HD button the visitor will be able to access the full-color high-resolution version of each image. This way each visitor decides what images wants to download and see.

 

Default typeface

All resources loaded, including typefaces and logos, are an additional request to the server, requiring storage space and energy use. Therefore, our new website does not load a custom typeface and removes the font-family declaration, meaning that visitors will see the default typefaces of their browser, a sans-serif and a serif font.

 

No logo

We use a similar approach for the logo. Instead of a designed logotype, which would require the production and distribution of custom typefaces and imagery, MADC’s new identity consists of a single typographic effect: to use the strikethrough style in the blank spaces between letters to create a chain.

 

Black over white?

It has been widely denied that a screen with a black background consumes less energy than with a white background. However, this is starting to change with the new AMOLED displays where a black pixel means it is turned off, and therefor does not consume energy.

Furthermore, if you are in a dark environment, it is much more comfortable reading a white text over a black background, requiring less brightness from our devices, therefore reducing energy consumption; while if you are in a light environment, the opposite is much better.

Taking all these premises into account, we decided to create a website that responds to the time of the day when you visit it. If you visit the website during daytime, you will see it in white with black text, but if you visit it during nighttime, you will see it inverted. As this is only a mere approximation and not an exact indicator on whether you are in a light or a dark environment, we have placed a simple toggle in the upper-right corner of the screen so that every user can alternate between these two color modes.