Episode 51 – How to create a sustainable website  with Kayleigh from Kakadu Creative

Kayleigh Nicolaou joins me for a virtual brew to talk about sustainable websites and the power of a purpose-led business.

Cara Melzack
Kayleigh is co-founder of Kakadu Creative, a full-service vegan creative agency.

In 2018, after over a decade of working in the consumer media industry, Kayleigh launched Kakadu Creative with her partner, Lee.

The couple is on a mission to use their skills and expertise to help vegan and purpose-led businesses launch, scale and grow with impactful and effective branding and design.

Outside of Kakadu Creative, Kayleigh is an environmental activist, an active member of her town council’s Climate Action Working Group and a pet parent to her beloved rescue dog, Gili.

Show notes

This podcast episode is in collaboration with The Happy Tea Company. Sustainable herbal tea. Grown in Worcestershire with love.

Values and Purpose-Led Business

The way we ran the business was always ethically-led with sustainability and veganism in mind,” says Kayleigh, “but we never really spoke out about it publicly. At the start of covid, we had people cancelling projects or putting them on hold. While it was scary at the time, it actually gave us the chance to pause, and take a look at the business and the direction we were going in.

“We worried that our ethics at the front would turn people away. When we spoke about it and spoke to different people who did the same – we got to the point where we realised that it was a good thing to turn people off. If someone is turned off by talking about a cruelty-free business, then we are not the right people to work with them. And they are not the right people for us.”

Kayleigh and Lee started talking about their values and find it to be the best decision. While they worried about losing customers, they instead had conversations with their current about ethics that would not have happened before.

Shifting to purpose-led

“I had a client ask us for advice about going vegan because he was thinking about it. If we’d not started talking about it publicly, he would have never come to me to ask those questions. We can now have those conversations,” says Kayleigh.

“Plus, ethically aligned businesses are now getting in contact with us to have conversations about their branding, website and marketing materials. We might not have been a consideration before.”

For those of you wondering if you should bring your values front and centre, then it is worth the jump.

Listen to the full episode to find out how Kayleigh approached the messaging to change it and make it more values-led.

“One of our best-performing articles is one about cruelty-free printing and we get so many enquiries from this blog. It’s about putting out the right content.

“The other big thing was building a network. We almost had to start from scratch to move from being a generalist to being in vegan and green networking groups. It’s been a big journey that we’re still on.”

Kayleigh also explains that businesses have a huge opportunity to make an impact. For many businesses, becoming green and ethical is a big undertaking but many are looking at how they can adjust what they do and make a positive impact.

“It feels like the start of an exciting journey seeing all these businesses adopt this undertaking.”

Green Websites

On their journey to creating Kakadu, Kayleigh realised the impact of the internet around two years ago and was shocked at it. It’s not something that is widely known to every business owner.

“The carbon emissions of the internet industry is the equivalent to that of the aviation industry,” explains Kayleigh.

“When you think of carbon-intensive industries, you are comfortable with the idea that planes are very polluting. We never think about the internet as being this bad.

“It’s down to web use, so this is where sustainable websites come into play. But it’s also about streaming, data storage, and the kinds of energy being used to run the internet. It’s a massive issue and one of the solutions is sustainable web design.”

Sustainable Web Design

Sustainable web design is about creating websites that have as little impact on the planet as possible.

“This is done in a few ways,” says Kayleigh, “firstly, look at the hosting. Different hosting providers use different energies to run their data centres. Data centres need electricity to run the servers but these servers also generate huge amounts of heat so they have climate control systems.”

The outcome is the host you choose has a significant impact on how much CO2 your website is responsible for.

“Quite often hosting providers run off fossil fuels. Whereas a green host will use renewable energy for their data centres. This is why you need to look at the host before even building the website.

“We offer a green hosting plan with renewable energy and with tree planting. While tree planting is not the solution to the problems, we also need to make sure what we do from the beginning is kind to the planet.”

Sustainable website build

After you’ve covered the hosting, next take a look at how your site is built.

“It’s about making sure it’s not heavy with features or custom fonts. Custom fonts can be really heavy. Custom fonts can create a unique brand experience but you need to balance this with the data they use.

“This is a problem because a custom font will not generally be saved on the users’ laptop, phone or whatever device they use. So every time that person visits the website, their device downloads that font from the server. This takes energy.

You need to make a website that is as light as possible with the data that needs to be downloaded from the server.

Kayleigh explains that these are the two key things you need to do to create a sustainable website. “From a design perspective, when you build a site that is light to download it makes it fast which is great for usability, SEO, and design,”

Benefits of a sustainable website:

  • Great usability
  • Fast site speed
  • Light carbon footprint
  • Reduced bounce rate
  • Improved search.

So, why would you not build a sustainable website?

Sustainable content

Kayleigh also goes on to explain that she puts herself under pressure to create social media content but when they look at where their leads come from, it’s never from social media but from their networking. So Kayleigh explains that she’s trying to not put herself under that pressure.

“I’m also staying away from TikTok because video is one of the most data-intensive pieces of content available and that platform is pure video. It’s one of the dirtiest social media platforms. Make sure that what you put out has a purpose, especially if you are using platforms like TikTok,” says Kayleigh.

How to lower emissions

Kayleigh explains there are a couple of tools you can use to measure your website emissions.

Websitecarbon –  which is good for looking at your hosting provider and seeing if they use renewable energy. You can see page by page if you are running on sustainable energy.

websiteemissions –  will look at your whole site and say if it’s eco-friendly and get an overall picture.

gtmetrics will look at a page at a time to help you improve performance. You get a grade for each page. Usually, large files slow down the website.

“I’d say 50% of websites we audit do not optimise their images and will be uploading print-quality images to their website,” says Kayleigh. “You do not need print quality, you need 72dpi for the web and around 100kb. Optimising your images is an easy way to limit the impact of your website.”

To analyse your site and traffic, you’ll need to speak to a carbon emissions consultant who will look at the business as a whole. Then they will help you reduce that.

Then you can take actions such as a creative agency like Kakadu to help create a more sustainable website.

Listen to the full episode for all of Kayleigh’s tips on what you can do to make your website

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