Our Digital Sustainability journey
This year Inviqa 's leadership team has committed to a programme of work to make our business more digitally sustainable. For one, it's the right thing to do to protect the environment, and also, we want to make it standard that we consider green design and development principles in the work we deliver to clients.
During 2023 we'll be regularly documenting our journey towards being a digitally sustainable business, and providing updates on the impact of the changes we are making. Read on for insights into the progress we've made so far.
15/09/2023 - DTC website research results
Over the Summer 2023 Inviqa conducted a benchmarking exercise to analyse and score 100 direct-to-consumer ecommerce sites on a whole host of factors. One of the scorecard elements was sustainability, where we were looking for brands to demonstrate their low-carbon credentials through the sustainability of their web design, as well as explaining their sustainability initiatives to consumers.
The results show that there is a clear gap between how consumer brands approach sustainability as a strategic initiative and message it to shoppers, and the effort that has so far taken place to decarbonise their web design. 66% of the leading consumer brands included in the research clearly outlined their approach to sustainability and their initiatives on their DTC websites. However, only 21% met our standard for the carbon weight of their site (which would put them in the top 50% of all websites, so was not particularly stringent recognising that ecommerce pages are content rich).
Some of the brands that did meet the standard when we ran their site through a carbon calculator include Adidas, Birkenstock, Burberry, Lego, Lily's Kitchen, Samsung and Tiffany & Co. We are now working on our own carbon calculator to use on all client projects to provide transparency on the impact of design choices, and further bake sustainability into our design and development principles.
15/06/23 - Green UX/UI principles put to the test with clients
One of our goals this year is embed sustainability principles within the work we deliver to clients. We want a consideration of green digital design to come as standard, not something that clients need to request or pay extra for.
With this is mind, one of Inviqa’s Product Designers, Theodora Beck volunteered to complete this Green UX/UI course and then share knowledge with the rest of the team. She’s also gathering resources and documenting anything that would be helpful for client projects, such as a sustainable UX/UI checklist based on this IBM whitepaper.
It’s great to hear that she’s already testing an approach on a couple of client projects. One will ensure there is no greenwashing in the new sustainability section on a high-street coffee chain’s app. The second involves Theodora auditing wireframes and brand guidelines to be used within a new online HR portal for a large media company.
We hope to share case studies of completed work that incorporates green design principles in the next few months.
01/06/23 - Introducing our ambassadors
Ensuring we become a business that champions digital sustainability isn’t any one person’s job. It requires collective action. And so Inviqa has formed a group of Sustainability Ambassadors from across the business in the UK and Germany who are inputting on achieving our aims this year.
Bringing together solutions architects, developers, UX/UI designers and creatives – plus our Head of People & Learning Cathy Dearson as the champion of the process – this working group ensures we consider all of the opportunities to encourage digital sustainability.
As well as meeting regularly, a Slack channel for the ambassadors focuses minds on the topic. We then have an all-company digital sustainability channel so the ambassadors can share with the wider organisation.
One of the latest assets that has been shared to provide inspiration to the whole group is Lowww, which collates low carbon websites and measures the amount of CO2 generated per visit.
08/05/23 - Developing our green coding skills
Starting to embed digital sustainability principles into the work we deliver to clients is an important goal for the initiative in 2023. One of the first steps we've taken in this area is to encourage our developers - and others within the business - to improve their understanding of the environmental impact of the software code they write. This is a starting point for building, maintaining and running "greener" applications.
We're pleased to report that 29 members of the team have completed a certification offered by the Linux Foundation focused on Green Software Principles. The course can be completed in less than half a day, and provides guidelines for what it means to be a green software practitioner.
As with many of the other sustainability initiatives we are introducing to Inviqa, many of the green software principles - such as simplification of code - have other business benefits.
25/04/23 - Sustainable search
Alongside the digital declutter, we have invited all of our users to adopt a search engine called Ecosia, a Chrome extension that uses the revenue generated from search activity to plant trees in 35 countries.
More than 20 million people around the world have downloaded the extension, leading to nearly 173 million trees being planted at the time of writing. One of our software engineers has been an early adopter of the tool. His 5,000 web searches so far have led to an estimated 98 trees planted to support carbon neutralisation.
24/04/23 - Our digital declutter
To get buy in for our digital sustainability initiative from everyone in our business, our Head of People, Cathy Dearson felt that it was important to start with changing some simple things about the way everyone works. She kicked this off with a "digital declutter"; asking everyone to delete those old emails and files in Google Drive that they no longer need to store.
Like many of the sustainable ways of working we've already uncovered, there can be other business benefits too. Kicking off the digital declutter has started a conversation about cleaning up folders and documents containing data that we no longer need. A digital declutter should be in harmony with your data protection and GDPR obligations.
In the first month we have reduced Inviqa's data storage requirements by more than 0.25TB.
22/04/23 - Inviqa celebrates Earth Day
We've been working on our plans around digital sustainability since the end of 2022, but Earth Day felt like a great opportunity to go public and begin to talk about our programme of work. This year our business has an OKR focused on sustainability, and given the nature of our business - and the fact that our parent company Havas already does a great job in making our offices sustainable - we have decided to focus on Digital Sustainability. But what does that mean?
Digital sustainability in our business means adopting technology and processes that ensure we minimise our impact on the environment. This means writing cleaner code, designing digital products so they have less impact on the environment, and ensuring we only digitally store what we really need.
We've kicked off the initiative because we are increasingly aware of the impact the internet has on the environment. As the Sustainable Web Manifesto says: "If the Internet was a country it would be the fourth largest polluter."
Although the web can be a powerful tool for reducing carbon emissions - think of all the business travel eradicated by videoconferencing - the amount of power required to store and serve up data to the world is a concern.
Making the internet more sustainable is something we believe in as a business, and it's a goal that we think our client care about too.