On the 7th September 2023, the latest Website Sustainability Guidelines (WSG 1.0) from digital agency Wholegrain were introduced to digital designers and developers across the web. Inspired by WCAG – the digital accessibility guidelines initially established by the Web Accessibility Initiative, these guidelines are designed to help website designers and developers build the more sustainable and eco-friendly websites for their clients moving forward.
The sizeable guidelines document contains a number of different sections for readers to follow, from User-Experience Design to Business Strategy and Product Management, and a large selection of guidelines and suggestions for all areas of digital design.
Understand the importance of their place in digital industries
Before beginning to evaluate and implement the extensive guidelines, it’s important to understand and acknowledge their role in the future of digital industries. The digital sector’s contribution to carbon emissions and harmful environmental change is growing, with new technologies and their widespread adoption have a significant impact on the planet.
These well-researched and comprehensive guidelines are put in place to help reduce as many different digital emissions as possible, from UX design and graphics to coding and company policy. They’re designed to help every business, developer, designer and individual web user to use the internet in a more sustainable and efficient way than ever before.
Focus on the guidelines relevant to your industry and organisation
Whilst the sheer volume of guidelines is truly beneficial for the industry as a whole, and is very promising for the future of digital design, for business owners, it can be an overwhelming read.
With so much information to process, it’s important to focus on the elements of the guidelines that can authentically be applied to your business and your brand. Identifying and highlighting the recommendations that can realistically be put into place and actioned without too much upheaval can help to break down the mass of information and make it more approachable for your team.
Share the guidelines with all team members to acknowledge and embrace
In many modern digital businesses, the teams you work with can be varied, mixed and often separate – working from home, working in different fields and working with different technologies and systems. The updated guidelines have different sections and regulations for a range of different roles and responsibilities, and many are universally applicable to every member of your team.
Sharing these guidelines as clearly and constructively as possible can help your team to stay up to date with the latest recommendations, to implement the core systems and to embrace the overarching change to a more sustainable way of working.
Create a reporting and monitoring system to evaluate how the guidelines are being implemented
Implementing new guidelines and processes can be a complex process, but it’s important to stay aware and on top of the changes being made within your organisation. Creating a consistent monitoring and reporting system that your entire team can access is a good way to see which implementations are having the most impact, and which need to be re-evaluated.
It’s key to acknowledge that not all recommendations and guidelines will work perfectly for your business or your team, but with so many tips, options and easy solutions provided, being able to evaluate the before and after of implementation is a great way to see the whole picture.
Share the guidelines with all clients, contractors and with your wider network
Becoming a more sustainable business is a great way to not only protect the industry and the planet, but can also help you to educate and increase awareness of the potential other businesses have to do the same. By highlighting and sharing the guidelines and your personal success with them, you can encourage others in your network to do the same – improving the ethics of the industry as a whole.
Increasing the participation and usage of these guidelines is vital to changing the way the digital world works, from the smallest folder structure to the biggest hosting shift, and the more we can do to support it, the better.