October 11, 2021
Emma speaks to Colleen Keith about the carbon created by the internet and how to reduce it through better web design.
In this episode Emma speaks to Colleen Keith about the carbon created by the internet and how to reduce it through better web design.
Colleen specializes in sustainable branding and websites for businesses that want to make positive changes and be part of the solution. Her clients have access to design and support services that help them make a difference for their markets and the planet at the same time, so that they too can work towards a kinder, greener world.
01:27 What is sustainable web design?
07:00 Carbon usage
19:03 Web design changes to make
29:48 Renewable hosting
49:53 Quick fire
Find Colleen Keith
https://www.thegreenwebfoundation.org/ - host list is here
Colleen Keith 0:00
The internet uses electricity and electricity creation produces carbon emissions. So the less electricity that we use for our websites, the better we're being to the planet and also to our users. Because then they use electricity we can lower their electricity bill by having a better performing website.
Emma Peacock 0:26
Welcome to the Digital Hive Podcast where we talk all things digital marketing for small businesses. On this episode, I spoke with Colleen Keith of Colleen Keith Design about sustainable web design. We talk about what makes web design sustainable and how to achieve it. Colleen specializes in sustainable branding and websites for businesses that want to make positive changes and be part of the solution. Her clients have access to design and support services that help them make a difference for their market and the planet at the same time, so that they too can work towards a kinder greener world. I hope you enjoy listening to this chat about optimizing for the benefit of your customers and the environment and some resources for you to find more as you start to make changes. Welcome to the podcast, Colleen, so good to have you.
Colleen Keith 1:06
Thanks for having me, Emma.
Emma Peacock 1:09
To get us started the big question tell us about you and your business.
Colleen Keith 1:14
So I create sustainable brands and websites to make my clients businesses matter. So to make a really good impact both for them and for the planet and for their users.
Emma Peacock 1:27
Amazing. So just to start us off so that we can kind of understand how like sustainable web design works. What is sustainable web design? I've never really thought of it before I talked to you, I'd never actually thought about it in terms of being able to make web design more sustainable.
Colleen Keith 1:46
Yeah, so there's a, there's a couple different things that, that we look at for sustainable web design, and it is more of a new movement. And the thing is, a lot of really high performance websites or developers are already doing a lot of these things, they just don't know that there are more things that they could do. And there are more ways to prove that they're being sustainable. So essentially, you want to have a kind internet. So the internet uses electricity, and electricity creation produces carbon emissions. So the less electricity that we use for our websites, the better we're being to the planet, and also to our users, because then they use electricity, we can lower their electricity bill, by having a better performing website. There are also a lot of other things you can do like having your servers or hosts run on renewable energy, and also things on your website not doing bad things like unuseful analytics, like using friendly analytics that aren't tracking everything like Fathom. So yeah, there's a lot of different ways that we can look at it, we also want to think about that your products and services that you're offering on the website itself are not used to like exploit anyone or there's nothing shady going on in the background, we're really looking at like, what is a kind internet that is open and honest and clean for everyone?
Emma Peacock 3:25
Yeah, amazing, I really like that, because it's the, for the customer using the website, it's better for the environment without them even having to think about it, because all the stuffs kind of done for them. I mean, I'm sure there's like certain computers you can buy that are more friendly to the environment and things like that. But without being in control as the customer, it means that when you're using a website that uses a lot of carbon, you also like can only really opt out, you can't really, you have less control, basically. So if we have that the business is in control of that, and it's just done differently in the web design process, then it's just better for everyone. And imagine that on mass. Like if everyone did that, how much better the, like, the effect that Internet has had on the world, in just the amount of electricity it uses to use the internet, let alone like shipping across the world and things like that. It can only imagine that impact must be insane.
Colleen Keith 4:29
Yes. There's like a little quote by the kind of forefront of sustainable web design people which I would say would be Wholegrain Digital is like kind of at the forefront of all of this. And they have calculated that if the Internet was a country, it would be the seventh largest contributor to greenhouse gases. Not good thing.
Emma Peacock 4:53
Colleen Keith 4:53
Yeah. And they're and so many other things go along with it. It's not just making a fast website for your users benefit. It's also good to think about minimalism in your website in general. So like cleaning up all the things on the backend that you don't need. And you can get really, like seriously and picky about it as a web developer, I don't even go that deep into it, because I'm more on the as a WordPress designer. But yeah, there's some really, really picky things you can be doing to optimize your website.
Emma Peacock 5:29
Yeah, yeah. But it does have that knock on effect of it being faster for the user. Right? So yeah, it's like, rather than just optimizing for that, how about, we just look at an extra few things? And the impact will be so much greater.
Colleen Keith 5:42
Yeah, and you can optimize, you're not just thinking about how fast is it load, but also the user experience, because however many page loads they do impacts their experience and their electricity, if they can't find what they're looking for that creates a frustrating experience for them and they're using more energy and more carbon. Like, again, if you, if you tracked how much every single user used, it's not a lot. But when you add it up over the year, how much carbon your website puts off, then it's it's huge. So creating a really good user experience is often a benefit or a recommendation by the companies that are kind of like, this is what we noticed makes a difference. make things easy for people to find, don't make them have to constantly go back to the homepage to navigate to other patients.
Emma Peacock 6:39
Yeah, or be like hunting around for that search box because they really just need to find that like word, which might not even be the word that you use, all of those kind of things. Yeah, for sure. But also the, like, how much can one person do? I mean, that's kind of the same as like, what would one person stopping using plastic straws do?
Colleen Keith 6:59
Emma Peacock 7:00
It's like, okay, but when we times that by like, everyone, imagine, what I think that could have? Yeah, I really like that. Um, so in terms of so we're talking about electricity, carbon use. What are the like, kind of like more direct, like knock on effects? Other than user experience of that carbon usage? Is there ways that we can like see it out every day? Maybe like the power bill, I guess as like a thing of like, you'd actually be able to see that improvement? Just in case. Yeah. So fun loving of the environment? What other like reasons do they have?
Colleen Keith 7:43
Well, for the, for the end user, they will, yeah, their battery will go down on their device less? Yeah, things will work faster, which everyone's so impatient these days. And yeah, also, over time, if more of the internet was was so much faster, and so much more efficient, then yeah, they'd be paying less to do the same amount of things on the internet. And they're also maybe just seeing a difference in the planet slowly but surely. So. Yeah.
Emma Peacock 8:22
Yeah, for sure. Especially as like New Zealand, our ozone layer is terrible. And that becomes so much more obvious to people in summer when they get burnt, especially like tourists, which maybe we don't have right now. But they come from places that don't have that. And they're like, I don't need sunscreen, I'm only going out for an hour, and then they come back into it. So it's like that makes it very personal in a way that like, yeah, I can only imagine the server load and the electricity bill of some of the clients I've worked with in the past who have like these massive catalogs on their website. And so their team, their sales team uses their own website, to, like, do their everyday job. They're constantly on the website all day. And that's where a lot of the optimization comments would come from, as it actually came from real users, but they happen to be like staff members. So I guess in a way, they were taken slightly more seriously, or were provided, much like in higher volumes, and they would like pull the team to be like, Do you also think this? and certain optimizations will be made there, but I can only imagine the electricity bill.
Colleen Keith 9:35
Yes, yeah, there are. Yeah, and again, this is not really my forte, but there's a book written called Sustainable Web Design. And there's a whole section on, like the whole server side of things which, like a web, just a general web designer like me I don't really have access to all I can do is pick a host that uses renewable energy sources, which I do, but If you are hosting your own stuff or have your own servers, there's a whole like chapter on how to do that, how to optimize it, make it smaller, make it produce less heat, all these sorts of things. So yeah, there's, there's so many different ways people can go about it, there's kind of the quick fix ways. And then there's like, if you want to dive into this as a, as a whole company, there's lots of opportunities.
Emma Peacock 10:29
Yeah, and the beauty of it and that people know so much about, like, you know, people in the world know so much about servers, and all of that stuff is that these aren't industry secrets, like you can read documentation on it, you can find that research, as a business owner, if you're trying to figure out whether it's worth maybe the investment. And that's even if it costs you different. And that will probably be when choosing your web designer, rather than like your web designer giving you an option of optimized or not. But just in terms of when you're making that decision, and maybe what direction people want to give their web developer, it's not some secret that's hidden somewhere, like people have been talking about it on the web. So um, yeah, it is more accessible that way.
Colleen Keith 11:20
Yeah, that's something that there's like this whole sustainable web manifesto that I really love and agree with, and I want to print it out really big on my wall. And one of those is like, everything is open source, everything is available to everyone. This isn't some gimmick that we're going to hold on to, we're all going to share information. And also, being open and honest. Like I see that as also being honest to my clients, like this is what I will I can do for you. And I know a lot of my clients like going over to the whole like owning their own website. Some of them have come to me and said, Oh, I don't I need this website redone. Or can you just help me update it because my web designer ran off, and I don't even know what they did, and I can't even log in. And so I really hate that whole situation. So I really like my clients know- okay, this is exactly how your website works. Within reason, like I don't tell them techie stuff that they don't need to know, that's just gonna go over their head. I'm like, here's how to log in. What do you think you can handle by yourself? Okay, you only want to handle blog posts, okay, I will handle the rest if you want me to. And then it's just, it's sustainable for the clients as well, because they're going to keep up a website, it's not going to get broken by like not updating plugins, or getting hacked or something like that, then that whole process to fix it will take all that energy, both like manual and electrical energy. So it's a whole kind internet, everyone is friends. Everyone's helping planet.
Emma Peacock 13:03
Yes. But I also feel like that time, I would hope of the of certain web developers like holding people to ransom in a way like I feel like people know now that they can get a content management system, like when they get a website built in 2021, that they know that they should get a content management system so that they can update the website, if they want to. Fair enough if they're like, No, No, I'd rather pay you X amount per month to make changes as I send them through to you. But when they want to do that, but then they're not being allowed to have a content management system. Like I feel like people know that now that if they shop around a bit, they can get those extra things. And part of that is clarity, and people, you know, like what they include in there. This is what I offer you as part of the service. Because when content management system is on their list, and then it's not on somebody else's, they can ask about that. So that like clarity is there for that. So I can only imagine what SEO and speed optimization and like carbon optimization can look like for the world in like five years when it's, you know, your average trades person knows about it. For some reason tradespeople always come to mind when I'm thinking of people who aren't as tech savvy. And that's because they don't use a computer during their normal everyday. Like, they don't have to email someone to be like, put that thing in that wall, whatever. Um, I know nothing about trades. So like, they're the people that come to mind as anyone who isn't on a computer all day and doesn't like just Google it as part of their everyday job. Once those people get into knowing about it. That's when I always feel like it's like, got mass knowledge, whatever. So I can see this becoming that in the next few years, especially if like, conversations like this start happening more and and people just like it gets broken down to a point that it's understandable for the average person.
Colleen Keith 15:07
Yeah, I think I think it will need to be broken down really simply because when you think of carbon emissions from a car, like you can literally see it coming out of the car, but you can't really seek there's no exhaust coming out the back of your computer. So I think people aren't really don't really understand that there is an impact, like, Oh, yeah, we'll use electricity, but I just keep it plugged in all day, I don't know how much time like well over time, yeah, like, baby steps like, and there's like a carbon calculator online for a web for any website. And it will give it gives really interesting examples of like, how many trees it would require to absorb all the carbon from your website over 10 years. And it's like, pretty frightening. Like, I should plant some trees. Which, which I am going to be doing as part of my relaunch of my kind of business pivot, I'm going to be planting trees per customer per web customer. Yeah, to help offset their website, even though I will make it as streamlined as possible, I'm still going to be using WordPress, and the very just because it's easy for me, and it's easy for them to use. So it's sustainable for them to use over a long period of time, but also, probably the most, like, compact websites are custom coded. So, so even though I may not be able to make them the best, most compact, most sustainable website ever, it will be as good as possible. And we will plant trees too often, anyway.
Emma Peacock 16:52
Yeah, yeah. And I look, I talk about custom a lot. But like, when I talk about custom, I'm also often not talking about a new business, because what can happen is, so you're talking about a website that will be, you know, carbon, perfect for years to come. But what if that business pivots in that time, you're still gonna need to rework the website in that time anyway. So it's like that investment, you've kind of got to find that balance of like, how far are we going to go down the track of this because at some point in maybe three years, I'm going to want to change a few things up and at that time, we can optimize for the current standard. So like, you know, because the sustainability environmental wise still has to balance with the economic sustainability as well. Because the amount of redundant websites that exist on the on the planet where they just have a holding page because the business has changed or whatever is I mean, that takes carbon too
Colleen Keith 17:51
Yes, yeah, I would I wonder if there would be like an organization that just goes through the web and deletes all the old pages. Just like learning about this stuff I'd like God there's so many websites are just sitting there doing nothing. And and then there's also the horrible thing about like bots using up bots, you'd like half the electricity that a website puts out because it's being loaded it's just there are things that can be improved overall and but the more I read about it, the more I'm like okay, these things are coming. They're not really common knowledge yet, because everyone's focusing on what they can really see like, I have too much plastic in my recycling box or I need to compost more that apple needs to go into compost instead. Like that's what they're like tangible things that people are really focusing on right now. Which is great. But then everyone's like, oh, because we're gonna use less paper we're gonna everything's gonna be digital now but I'm like okay, well now digital is taking a huge load and that's also causing emissions but people cannot see that they can't it's not like a plastic bottle sitting on a beach so
Emma Peacock 19:03
yeah, it's probably also a fact somewhere of like, even though a lot of businesses have gone paperless. Have we actually been cutting down these trees? Yes. Maybe I should look for that fact. Yeah, I wonder, I wonder how that works. Yeah. I wonder if the trees just used for something else who knows? Um, so we've talked a little bit about it, but what factors of website design can actually reduce the carbon output of website?
Colleen Keith 19:33
There's a great deal. And it depends how, how skilled you are and how much you want to go into it. Overall, overarching thing is how minimal can you keep this website? And so do you really need all of those images? Do you really need all that text? Do you really need all these fonts? like so. Just thinking about in terms of like, minimalism is the goal and then using things like lean software themes and builders so searching before you like pick a website builder pick a theme. Again, I'm coming for WordPress perspective, like what's the fastest on the market that you can use comfortably. Also, reducing the amount of images on your website is huge, or at least using different file versions. So like I just this week learned about AVIF. Apparently, it's even faster than WebP. And everyone's still using JPEGs and PNGs. So yeah, so it's, it's all about can you reduce the amount of images? Then can you make those images even smaller? then can you maybe use a different file format? Because WebP is 30%, less on average than a JPEG and then AVIF is apparently 50% less than a WebP. So
Emma Peacock 20:51
Colleen Keith 20:51
It's like, yeah, it's kind of new. I'm haven't actually tried to make these images yet. But I'm going to try next week. Now there's lots of things, as I said before, delete old content, because even if it's not loading, it's just kind of taking up space on the server, and the server is having to work to keep it there. So yeah, don't get too fancy with things. I feel like the 90's were like the big boom of like, how flashy can we make this? There's flash animations and things are going to zoom in and fade and all this crap, but having animations and fades and carousels even take more loading it's better to have static text and static images, and not have things move around too much. Speaking of things moving around like video, it's best to not host the video on your website of course it should be like over on YouTube or on Vimeo and also to make that video just when you upload it as small as possible. Something I just learned this week as well is that darker colors use less energy on a website. Pretty cool. So dark mode is apparently use it because it has to light up the pixels less something about them. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah, and as ugly as they are using system fonts, cause they literally don't even need to like ping the server to load them. So an idea or a recommendation is to use your fancy font in your titles. And then use system fonts in your body copy. And definitely upload fonts directly to a website. Don't use some sort of connecting service like thinking like myfonts.com or like Adobe can connect fonts to your website, it's just more things that are going back and forth that need to communicate to each other. They all needs electricity, compress your code.
Emma Peacock 21:23
All of these things also work for SEO so,
Colleen Keith 23:03
I know it's all
Emma Peacock 23:04
Colleen Keith 23:05
The best things are all for the greater good and people just need to know about doing them and not just yeah, I wish it was common knowledge that you try and make images as small as possible before you upload them but I've seen some client websites where the image is two megabytes. I'm like what is going on?
Emma Peacock 23:24
This could literally be a billboard. Can we just resize? Thank you.
Colleen Keith 23:28
Yes. Yeah, so yeah, there's just and again, they said if it's if you're only doing one thing on your own it's images, try and make them as small as possible and there's lots of like, free things online that will shrink your images for you. So if you're doing it all by yourself, try and start with images and then maybe get a professional onboard to take care of other things if you want to go a little bit faster.
Emma Peacock 23:57
With that though, a lot of people I find that I have seen the backend of their especially like WordPress or website platform that uses like plugins is that they'll install something that resizes the image for them is doing it once on a software it like off the website better than having a plugin because that plugin might need to do it multiple times.
Colleen Keith 24:24
I am researching this a bit more I prefer to make it as small as possible off offline may in Photoshop or if I'm making like WebP that I'm I'm using a converter but some of the plugins are do apparently work but just to me that's that's again that's another plugin that needs to be constantly running and constantly loading itself and I would prefer to upload it manually the first time. I like it for for clients websites where they're not paying me or they don't know the budget for me to do every single thing manually to like make this website better than I will install one of those plugins as like a quick fix. But long term I wouldn't I would look for a better solution do it manually first. Yeah.
Emma Peacock 25:17
Yeah, I guess it's the thinking of maybe the plugin doesn't resize the image multiple times, but the plugin is always there and always being hosted and always loading.
Colleen Keith 25:25
Yeah, the the fewer the plugins that you can have better? Mm hmm.
Emma Peacock 25:30
Yeah, for sure. I have logged into a few backends and seen a lot. Like how do you manage all of these? How do you know when to update them? I'm so confused. And then you see that they haven't been uploaded or updated in ages. So there's also that it's like, it's just easier to maintain.
Colleen Keith 25:46
Emma Peacock 25:47
So many, there's so many, like, indirect benefits of all of these that like actually impact the business owner and the business and the customer. Before they do the environment as well. So it's like the extra extra bonuses.
Colleen Keith 26:02
Yeah, but that's why I like you like using something like Elementor, which, again, it's not as fast as writing custom code. But they have, you don't need a separate contact form plug in, you don't need like all of that's included, there's so many things that you can get rid of one of my newer sites, like my old sites used to have something like 20 plugins, because you needed all of that to make anything work. And all the things work. And now one of the newer plugins or websites I've made has like seven plugins. So it's like, how small can we get, and just general minimalism, Marie Kondo, your website,
Emma Peacock 26:42
I like that. I like that. And also a little caveat there too, because just because a custom coded website can be more optimized, doesn't mean it 100% will be if the developer isn't consciously trying to do that. Because they can do things like comment out code, but it still sits there have like a lot of redundancies just as much as say a theme word. So just to make that clear, for everyone that just because it's custom doesn't mean it's optimized, like, that's not, it can be, and you can get more nitty gritty about it, theoretically. But also, all of that takes time. And so that human who's doing the developing will have to do a lot of that. So that factors into like, cost, time, maintenance, thinking about that each time as they go onwards. But the other reason I feel like people end up with plugins, is that as the business owner, not the developer, they kind of just look oh, it's free, I'll install it. That's free. I'll install it. And not thinking of like the knock on effects of that. Yeah, but otherwise, every single thing of that is SEO optimized. And what the bonus of that is, not only do you get two benefits, but that means that Google is actively trying to rank people who have reduced the size of their imagery and everything like that. So often, as we get more like more people across more industries are using this method to improve their websites. The first few results will hopefully always be like the answer to your question will be an optimized website. So that just in your research and browsing people can use less carbon.
Colleen Keith 28:41
Yeah, yeah. Hopefully, it would be great. If they are ranking that would be great. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Whenever I've, yeah, I've logged into, like client websites, we're just waiting, like it's broken and fix it in my own like, well, all these plugins, several of these are interfering with each other, like, so I think it's, that's something I do with my clients who are asking me to just kind of upgrade their current site, or even redesign, but we're kind of using the old content, and I've still got all the crap in the background. So I'm like, okay, what are you using this for? Do you know? And they're like, No, probably not and I'm like, Okay, well, let's, I'm gonna deactivate it. And let's see, okay, nothing happened. I don't think we need it. Like so I think people over time. Yeah, they add things that they think will be useful, and then they something broke, but they didn't make the correlation. And yeah, and then the whole website is frustrating to them and to their users. Yeah. Hmm.
Emma Peacock 29:48
So if someone is choosing who they're going to host with, what are the factors that they could maybe ask about or check in about? You mentioned renewable hosting, right? How does that work?
Colleen Keith 30:04
So I'm still like, have some questions about it actually, because there is a list, there's a list of green hosting companies out all worldwide, and they're using renewable energy sources, and you can click on it and go to their site and find out what they're doing. The issue is that like, one of the hosts I use uses a CDN network, which is great for speeding up your site for people all around the world. But then that makes it hard to figure out if they are using renewable energy. So sometimes it's hard to tell. So you do need to ask your host, which I did, and they're like, yes. Here's information about our, our servers and what we use. I'm like, Okay, great. So even if, if you try and there's there's a whole thing about what's the word, testing your website to see if it uses a lot of carbon, or if it uses green hosting, sometimes it may not work with the things that are available right now. So you may have to do a little digging to ask your host do you use renewable energy sources? And if they don't, or they're like, we're not planning on that we don't know how to do that. Then you can look for other hosts, there is a list that you can start from, if you find a website that says it at the bottom, I have seen that on a few websites using renewable sources by Kinsta, or something like that, then you could go and investigate that way and move your website over there.
Emma Peacock 31:39
Mmm, sounds like there is a list, but it's not complete.
Colleen Keith 31:42
Right? There is a list, but I also don't know how, how they qualify for this list. Yes. I'm like, Can you just add your name, and it just pops up automatically? I'm sure there's someone vetting them in the background? I just haven't gotten that deep into it. Mm.
Emma Peacock 32:00
Mmm. Yeah. So when, when your hosting platform came back to you, and they asked you, they answered your question of like, what were the actual, like parameters that they gave you? What do they use as their basis of explaining? How? Like, is there like a scale people can use?
Colleen Keith 32:19
There was an information page, so they use Google servers, which have a whole information page on their renewable energy sources. So that was helpful. So I've used use Flywheel which also uses WP Engine, which is based on Google servers. But then I also use SiteGround. And SiteGround is ranked as a green using renewable energy sources, but I don't know where their servers are, again, there's a lot that I'm still learning about it. And it's all like, very intricate, sometimes you're like, well, I host here, but they don't have their own servers. So where are their servers? And are they using renewable energies? Who do I ask? So yeah, there's sometimes a little bit of digging you need to do again, it's about how much you want to dive into this. Like, say, someone is like I really want to work towards this, okay, so I'm going to do step one, I'm going to reduce my images, step two, reduce my plugins. Step three, investigate my hosting. It's sort of the same way my partner and I find sustainable products for our house, I sort of every month I pick like, one thing, like, okay, we don't want this deodorant in plastic containers anymore, what other options are there? And then I go around, and I find one and we test them for a few months. And then I'm like, okay, next thing. Now I want environmentally friendly dish soap. So, I think it's too much for people to look at everything, and they get super overwhelmed, and I couldn't possibly do this. So on I'm planning to write a blog post about this, like, let's start, let's give 10 things and maybe tackle each one each month. Like cause don't get overwhelmed. You can do this. Baby steps.
Emma Peacock 34:10
Yeah, so I guess renewable? What was that renewable energy sources? So if they're talking about that, that's a good indicator. Yeah, without people having to, like, you know, you can do a Ctrl F find on the page that they send you to, and see if it mentions that, and if not, it'll take a little more research to check into that place. But that's a great indicator.
Colleen Keith 34:35
Yeah. Especially from that list. There's a lot of renewable energy hosts in the Netherlands and in Germany, probably because they have so many wind turbines. So yeah, and I bet a lot of the other hosts are using like solar energy and stuff like that. So they're catching on and they are updating themselves. It's just it's it's a huge process. Like, I know an organization that's just starting the process to be certified by B Corp. They're like, this is a six month thing, man. There's a lot of work. So be patient, even if your host doesn't do renewable energy now tell them that you would like them to do that. And then I'm sure they're working towards it on some level, because that's the way the world is going.
Emma Peacock 35:23
Hmm. Yeah, for sure. And just like anything, I'm sure there's a cost to them of changing everything. So it just takes time. But the more it becomes more common, the more options people have to choose from. So yeah, that's really good.
Colleen Keith 35:34
Yeah, yeah, I would say if they say they're working on it, then stick them out for a little bit and check in with them later. If they say that's not on our agenda at all, then I would look at switching. Yeah.
Emma Peacock 35:47
Yeah, yeah, I've definitely had a few times where I've contacted a software company and they've talked about, you know, that's on our list of things to do. And then two years later, I'm like, well you still haven't done it must be pretty low on your list. So it's that kind of thing of like, if they can give you a timeframe, even like an estimate of like, this is on our game plan for the next five years. Like, that means a lot more than like, it's something we're considering. Because if you're shopping around, especially, you might start to find that you get a lot of the same, like, it's on our list of things to do, like responses, and you can start to see which ones are more seriously considering it than others. But again, there's that list if you want to find one that's doing it now. Um, yeah, cause hosting is one of the things I mean, from the custom side hosting is one of those things where it's, you really do want to decide when you're building the website, it is a lot of work to move a website host. Is that the same with WordPress?
Colleen Keith 36:48
Yeah, it's not too much work really like it's, it takes a few hours to kind of, I did move one, one client off, he had domain and website on one and some sort of email redirects. I can't remember all in one place. And they were a terrible host. And I even talked to them, like, do you offer these sorts of things? And they're like, Well, yes, but it's like an upgraded plan. But the way his website is, you can't and I'm like what? It didn't make sense. So anyway, I moved him over to SiteGround. But you like it's a whole process takes a few hours, and kind of over a couple of days, while things kind of cache and load and stuff. So I moved the website first, and then you move the domain and yeah, so it's, um, it's not a huge, they make it really easy. A good host will make it super easy and very helpful for you. But it does take a little bit of time, a couple hours, stretch it out over a few days.
Emma Peacock 37:42
Yeah, so it's kind of like if you have a website that you're actively using, you don't plan on updating it soon. Maybe have a look at that chipping away at the different things. versus if you're looking at having your website redone in the next six to twelve months, it would be good to do a little bit of research so that you don't need to like, go back and do some things. It always feels slightly begrudgingly as well, once you've like I've just had my website done, and now I need to change these things. So if you just like have those conversations up front it's a lot better.
Colleen Keith 38:13
Yeah, no, I definitely. I definitely feel like the whole facepalm, like learning something every week. I'm like, I just did that for like, it took me hours. Now there's even a better way. Dang it.
Emma Peacock 38:29
Yeah. Imagine if you'd left that research to later you would have done it another 10 times.
Colleen Keith 38:35
Yes. So yeah, nothing's ever going to be perfect. And like even the most, even the carbon neutral companies are still like general carbon neutral companies, they're still creating waste somewhere. They're just trying to offset it. Like it's really really impossible for to create literally no waste and literally no carbon. So everyone's just doing the best they can and try and be a little bit better every year.
Emma Peacock 39:03
The more we can offset it, the better it is for the environment. If you're listening to this episode, and wondering how you can market your own business, I might just have the solution for you. The Marketing Apiary is the one stop shop course for digital marketing teaching you everything you need to know to be seen, make sales, and grow your business online. With videos across honing your one ability, putting your best foot forward, getting the numbers straight, helping people find you, content marketing, growing with advertising, and passing the torch to your team. We cover every platform and angle you can approach marketing through a process I call the Seven Stages of Suite Marketing. Since DIYing everything alone and molding everything for your business can bring up a lot of questions and maybe some decision fatigue. We have Q&A calls every two weeks so you can submit your questions and receive answers customized for your business from me, even if you can't attend those calls live. To find out more, you can pause the episode and go to a themarketingapiary.com or find the link in the show notes once you're done listening, for now let's get back to the episode.
Emma Peacock 40:08
In terms of the business, I know we've kind of gone over all of the different benefits that they can have, which some of them will directly impact sales and business. And some of them are more like indirect, like the faster your website loads, and the better people can find information, like, the less time there is for your people to get distracted and not follow through to that sale. Um, so there's that benefit, but the ones that you can kind of see more tangibly, are, I guess, kind of like, the anecdotal feedback that you get from people. So I guess if people are on the fence, what would we say that they do? Would they ask their customers about or would we say that maybe the customer doesn't quite know what they want yet in this realm?
Colleen Keith 41:07
I think if you ask people, they are all like, yes, let's save the environment. Sure. I was even at the grocery store. And there's a guy ahead of me. And I think she offered him a paper bag instead of a plastic one. He's like, yeah, sure. Let's save the environment. Like I think he was just sort of like, yeah, if it's, if it's done for me, if I don't need to really think about it. Absolutely. Sure. So the way I like to look at it is that if you there are these there are certain things you can add to your website. I'm kind of going to put together a little package for my for my clients, because one client, a new one did ask, so I'm like, yeah, so we're using these sorts of things on your website to make it more sustainable. She's like, Oh, can I put like a statement somewhere? I'm like, Yes, that would be great. I have to think about what that's going to look like. So I think when people come to a website, and if they're saying looking for, I don't know, consulting services, or something like that, and your website says that it's renewable, and you're pledging 1%, and you planted trees, and whatever else, if you're making an effort and someone else isn't, and you match up in all other things like price and testimonials and stuff, I feel like more people are going to choose that you're trying to do better and make a bigger impact and make your business matter more than just what you're giving your customers. So people are more likely to choose the company that's doing their part and trying to be part of the solution than companies who aren't. So I personally like I'm try, I try to be very minimal with what I buy. And so I was looking for new sandals this summer. And I and I chose, like I talked to a few different companies. And the one that I went with was everything was made of sustainable materials. But I'm slightly disappointed that they don't have a recycling program. Like I can't send my sandals back to them. Because a lot of companies are doing this now. Where you can send like Native, you can send any of your footwear back to them. And they will break it down and reuse what they can or turn it into something else. like Nike takes any running shoes from any brand and makes it into astroturf. So there's some really great companies. So when I did buy the sandals, I was like, Okay, I love that you used all sustainable materials, and used algae bloom, which is bad for the ocean. But I would really love to see a recycling program. And I'm not going to buy from you again until you have that. And they were like thanks for that information. That's really we have thought about it. And we are looking into how we would do that. Like, that's great. So yeah, the more people that are asking for these things, the more that companies are going to do them.
Emma Peacock 44:08
Yeah, for sure. So as a customer, we urge you to say something. But maybe don't wait for your customers to say something before you start optimizing on your end. Because I will say once people start asking about it, they aren't so jazzed when you're like, yeah, I'll get started on that. And you kind of maybe bring it to fruition and a couple years. Not to like worry anyone I mean no one's really like going to get too critical of certain things. But when you wait for your customer to tell you something, especially unprompted like you haven't asked them for their feedback, and then they've given it if they feel like they need to go the extra mile to share this with you. It's often something that they kind of think you should already know. But just know that if you were to ask your customers they would probably say yes, if given the option for it to be more carbon neutral. Yes, I guess, where we're at, and the current, like, knowledge about it.
Colleen Keith 45:11
Yeah, but that's something I'm trying to when I kind of pitch my services to customers and like, you're also going to be helping the environment without doing anything extra on your part. Like, like the guy being offered the paper or the plastic bag, he doesn't, he doesn't need to, you know, go out and plant a tree himself. It's being offered to him, here, you have a choice. And of course, they're gonna choose to be more environmentally sustainable, unless it's like a gigantic price difference, which being green can be these days. But I've seen articles saying like, the closer we are, the more we move forward on this, the lower pricing, all the industries are trying to meet their green options. Yeah, Bill Gates had a whole term for it, I can't remember what he called it, the it was like the green margin or something like that. Yeah, he has a book that I want to read about how to avoid a climate crisis.
Emma Peacock 46:13
It's almost that investment of if I invest in this now, it'll have more benefits for me later, investing in something that heightens your own personal standard, or the business standard of something like this can just mean that like, the collective knowledge about it raises higher, and then you're closer to that next step. Just as much as like plastic is cheaper, because it's on mass. And all of their, like, biodegradable coffee cups, and all of that kind of stuff has become more cost effective for like cafes, for example, because it's now like, most cafes are using them versus when it was like the first 10 people. But we almost have to say, like a collective thank you to the people who like did it at the start. Because they did it even though it costed more. And I guess that's why it like is really helpful when the bigger organizations do it. But the amount that it was like that thing of the, the environment is the seventh largest country, it's almost like if enough of us do it, we put the pressure on the bigger organizations to do it, which then has the large, you know, like, millions of cups, kind of a thing. But as the end user, the end user, you almost make like, what seems like an easy. I mean, as an actual end user of your website, they make kind of no decision, there's no cost to them, there's no, there's no effect to them, the business owner, you're making maybe a slight investment extra. And potentially not if you shop around just picking your providers wisely. But the large scale impact can have on people, and then it not even just being the one impact of environmentally friendly and that it's SEO, it's better for your user experience. It's better for all of those things. Yeah, I really like that. Um, if someone was to work with their web designer, are there, like, a list of criteria they could give to them that they were interested in.
Colleen Keith 48:25
Yeah, I recommend I do recommend Tom Greenwood's book, Sustainable Web Design, if a web designer is a bit newer to this. Yeah, there there's a few resources online, but I really liked his book, it really cut down things into chapters, like just on design just on development just on servers. So that was really, really helpful for me to see like, Okay, what are what are all the, and it may not even be all the ways but he's like to get started. These are all the things I would recommend. Yeah. Yeah. And I want to make a list of that on a on a blog post soon. We know how bad I am at writing.
Emma Peacock 49:11
Getting around to it I'm the same I reworked one the other day that is the actually the page that gets the most traffic on my website because I realized it was out of date. It was instructions about how to do something on Facebook, and you can't even do it in the place that the blog post referenced anymore. They changed it. And it took me 10 minutes, but I like had been meaning to get around to it for forever. Like, okay, I'll get around to change my plugins. It's like no, do it now. Yes, you have to think about it.
Colleen Keith 49:42
Things don't actually take as long as you think but it's like you just like the thinking about it. It's gonna it's gonna take a whole day. Probably will.
Emma Peacock 49:53
Okay, so quick fire round while but the not so quick, quick fire. I feel like some of these sometimes need a little explaining, but that's fine. Um, so where do you get the most of your website traffic or sales from?
Colleen Keith 50:08
So those are two different things. website traffic, Fathom, says Google. But the traffic on my website is relatively low because all of my work comes from word of mouth. I have gotten a handful of cold emails or cold inquiries over the years, generally, it's people have heard about me and referred me to someone else. So yeah.
Emma Peacock 50:35
Yeah. And then is there a website? Is the website just the way that they contact you? Or do they often like bypass your website altogether?
Colleen Keith 50:43
It depends. Some people and I also have a book a call on my website, some people just book a call out of the blue, like, Who is this person? And some people are given my email by their referral. So
Emma Peacock 50:56
Yeah, I wonder if there's a subset of people that don't even look at your website. I mean, your website designer does.
Colleen Keith 51:02
There is because often people don't know what my pricing is. They don't know where I am. And yeah, so they definitely bypass the website. If it's a referral, people are very trusting. They're like, Oh, that person had a great experience. Great. I'm just gonna email her.
Emma Peacock 51:22
So what is your favorite place on the internet right now.
Colleen Keith 51:27
So it's probably The Dodo. So animal welfare, like goes along with the environment, but animal welfare and animal rights, it's so close to my heart. And I want to have a small animal sanctuary someday, it is my dream. I'm gonna rescue cows and chickens and everything. So I watched The Dodo because it makes me just be like, give it gives me ideas for my animal sanctuary in the future, but also just watching puppies get adopted is like the very best up lift ever, especially in such stressful and trying times that we constantly find ourselves in for like two years now. So whenever I'm like, that was stressful, or I'm anxious about something, just go watch a kitten, get a life saving surgery and then find a forever home and your life is complete.
Emma Peacock 52:22
Nice. Is that 100% happy stuff on there. Yes.
Colleen Keith 52:26
It's called The Dodo there's like, I watch it usually on YouTube. And I try to restrict myself to one or two a day, because again, energy consumption, streaming, etc. But yeah, they also have Facebook and yeah, it is only uplifting things. And some people write adorable things like you've helped me through my depression. Like they're only fun loving things.
Emma Peacock 52:52
Yes, I like that. Because there's so many places on the internet that like you go to for your, like, happy place, and then something infiltrates it. So it's good to have a guaranteed happiness with Yes, maybe a few happy tears.
Colleen Keith 53:06
Yes, and they're they're they're always like, supporting all of these sanctuaries or people that are, like full time foster care people or people wanting um, if an animal needs a surgery, and they can't afford it. And then there's a go, they offer the GoFundMe at the end of the video, like it's, it's a really, really great, I find no issues ever with anything they've ever done. Which I can't say the same for most other YouTube channels.
Emma Peacock 53:38
So what are you most looking forward to in the next year of business?
Colleen Keith 53:44
Yeah, the sustainable web design thing, I'm really, really excited about it, I also do branding and everything. And I want and I want people to have a wonderful brand, but you cannot have a website without a brand on it. So that's one of my biggest packages, I suppose that I, that people come to me for is that they needed everything redone. So brand and website. So I want them to have a brand that they feel comfortable using that they have all of the different logos that they need. But also I'm really, really wanting to push the sustainable web design and awareness for everyone. And uplevel my skills because I learn more about this literally every week. And some of it I know about but haven't implemented yet. And so I'm just really excited to get this more out into the world because it almost nobody I know or sorry, almost everyone I know doesn't know about it. I was on a Zoom call earlier with like, like a serious web developer and I'm like, so can this website. I'm not building the website that we were discussing, but I'm like, so can we also like have a carbon calculator on it and I think that would really go well. He's like, I didn't even know about that. Like I know. So I'm trying to bring more awareness and yeah it's really exciting to educate people on this
Emma Peacock 55:01
Yeah, I think that's what I love about working in like, web and internet is that because it's always changing, there's always something new and exciting to learn. So it's just fun. What about what are you most looking forward to in the next year in the offline world?
Colleen Keith 55:20
So I'm looking forward to the fall, harvest my garden. And also, probably starting a family in the next six to 12 months. So that's also very exciting. So I want to really get the business side of things really solidified and going and then pop out of kiddo at some point. Yeah. I already bought some secondhand cloth diapers. Super excited. I know. Very exciting. My kid will never put a diaper into the landfill ever, it's not happening. I don't mean to bring up diapers on your podcast. But
Emma Peacock 56:04
I mean, that's fine. It's all good. We just talked about like, carbon waste. So like,
Colleen Keith 56:11
Yes, let's talk about how cow farts affect the environment next.
Emma Peacock 56:16
Yeah. Oh, yeah. There's also a lot of other things we could talk about with the environment. Yeah, yeah.
Emma Peacock 56:22
So if someone is listening to this episode, and they want to grow their own online business, what is the one thing you recommend they do next?
Colleen Keith 56:31
I would recommend that they do a bit of research and find out what their what they wanting their values are as a business and as a person. And then honestly, ask for help, like, find out, see how much you're willing to do. If you're wanting to kind of build your own thing, then, you know, go for it. Some of the best clients I've had have been the ones that have tried it themselves first. And know just enough to know that this is not their area of expertise. And they, but they still know how to do the lingo. They they're not asking what is a WordPress. So they're still understanding a bit about it and be like, okay, I understand this is not my skill set, I would love to hire you. So I would say do your research, ask yourself some hard questions about your values, and what you want to do in terms of the backend of your business and front end and everything and then hire people to support you or ask for help. However, that comes to you. Yeah,
Emma Peacock 57:33
Yeah. I love that. Because it's always easier to delegate to or manage anyone, if you know, at least a little bit about what they're doing.
Colleen Keith 57:42
Yes, I ask that the people who come to me, I'm like, so what are your what is your, they usually know what their business sells, but they don't. they don't know necessarily their business name is or what they're kind of moving towards for a website and or brand. And I'm like, okay, we need there. There's some starting points we need to look at. And I can help them with that for sure. But it's really good for someone to kind of get off on that foot, like, what do I want this to be for me, and then who can help me get there. And you don't need to necessarily get all the bells and whistles and hire like all the people to do things. I'm a full believer in people like trying it themselves first, or keeping their hand in it a little bit just so that they're not fully off, hands off. And then eventually they get anxious and don't know how to dive back into their website or into their business. And so I like people to be involved in the process but yeah, hire who you think will support you the best for what your goals are.
Emma Peacock 59:04
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Digital Hive Podcast. I'm your host Emma Peacock, and today our guest was Colleen Keith of Colleen Keith Design. You can find out more about working with Colleen at colleenkeith.com. If you're enjoying the podcast, I'd love it if you could share it with a friend or on Instagram and tag us @honeypotdigital. To find out more about Honey Pot Digital and the work we do or to find more episodes of the podcast and handy tips for small businesses marketing online head to honeypotdigital.com.