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What Is Sustainable UX? How To Create One?

By April 19, 2022UX / UI Design

As you may well know, global warming and other environmental issues are plaguing our world. Many news channels and celebrities talk about them, which has prompted many governments to actively pursue solutions. Change is needed because otherwise, these issues could lead to long-term effects on our planet that could perhaps never be fixed. Cars are one such culprit that people are well aware of by now, but did you know that the internet is responsible too.

That’s right; the internet is also a factor in the pollution harming our planet. This isn’t immediately obvious because the internet is not a tangible entity, so it does not seem to be doing anything in the physical world. However, the internet is powered by real-life equipment and data centers that are hurting the environment. Therefore, sustainability is needed when designing anything on the internet. One such way is through the designing of sustainable UX.

But what exactly is sustainable UX? How can you create one? This article will look to answer all these questions. Let’s dive in.

What is Sustainable UX?

Sustainable UX works on the idea of sustainable design, which is where you design something by considering its impact on the environment. Most designs focus on the customer and their profits when designing, which leads to environmental degradation. Sustainable UX aims to flip the script by recognizing that we are responsible for the environment. In such a way, by creating a sustainable environment for the users, you can help reduce consumption and waste. There are plenty of ways to do so, as you will see in the next section.

How to create a sustainable UX?

Nudge Theory

This theory works on the idea that if a person is given two options, giving them a nudge can coax them into choosing the more sustainable one without forcing their hand. For example, consider someone using a grocery app. The same product is available from different companies, but each has a distinct commitment to sustainable practices. By creating contrast in color between the two options, you can nudge people towards the product made from more sustainable measures. In this way, a sustainable UX can lead to more people adopting sustainable habits. For example, if you’re a bay area web design firm, then you can nudge them towards more locally sourced products that are environmentally friendly.

Working Remotely

Believe it or not, design work can have a large carbon footprint because of daily commuting, business travel, and technology whose manufacturing causes the emission of greenhouse gasses. It is difficult to avoid changing the technology since high-quality ones are necessary for designing. Therefore, working remotely from home can reduce your carbon footprint, meaning the UX that is being developed can be much more sustainable. There is already a range of remote tools available, and many businesses are already beginning to become remote due to the pandemic. Therefore, working remotely is an excellent way of building a sustainable UX. After all, sustainable change begins at the source.

Reducing data usage

The idea here is pretty simple. Reducing the data your services or sites use will reduce the amount of energy transmitted, which will reduce fossil fuel consumption. After all, the data you use is being powered by something. Most people believe that just because their internet is faster, they can use excessive data. But data usage can cause a lot of energy consumption, especially since we are moving towards even more high data experiences in the future. Reducing data usage has a lot of other benefits, like a better user experience through faster loading pages. Therefore, doing so can improve user satisfaction and create a more sustainable experience.

To sum up

Environmental issues continue to plague our planet due to the technologies we use. The internet and its infrastructure is one such technology that causes the emission of greenhouse gasses due to fossil fuel consumption. There is a need for more sustainability in technology, such as designing sustainable UX. Sustainable UX involves creating an experience that satisfies users and helps protect the environment. We have seen in the article some ways that you can do this. We hope this article proves insightful and prompts you to move towards more sustainable practices for the sake of our planet.

Paul S

Founder and Team Lead of Simpaul Design, a brand strategy and design agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Here at Simpaul Design, we work with brands across various categories with a focus on connecting with consumers and building brands that people want to be a part of. We specialize in brand identity and strategy, UX/UI, and brand transformation.