by Frank Gómez

Rotary International is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, but it also works to protect the environment through its Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group (ESRAG). Here’s how a sustainable website fits into ESRAG’s overall mission and Every Club Climate Friendly initiative.

To create a new Rotary Club of Jasper (Georgia, USA) website, 2023-24 President Sharon Wofford consulted me, a club member whose firm, Empowered Marketing, specializes in sustainable web design. With the goal of making the website sustainable and meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, I rebuilt and improved the website, which had been neglected for a few years.

Many people don’t realize that websites actually use energy. Energy is used in several places including the server where the website is hosted, all the points on the network, and eventually on the devices where the website is delivered (the client). The size of a page of a website is called “page weight” or “transfer size” which refers to the size of all the files transferred from the server to the client. 

To make a website sustainable, the overall goal is to make it as lean as possible so it uses less energy and therefore reduces emissions. It is much more complicated than that because a sustainable website also needs to be easy to use. Ease of use also translates to reduced emissions. A great way to ensure the highest level of usability is to make the website ADA compliant. 

The Rotary Club of Jasper website was rebuilt from the ground up to be both sustainable and ADA compliant by starting with a basic WordPress theme. We ensured the website doesn’t include elements which are not even seen by visitors (users). One example of an element which was avoided was a slideshow. Several studies have shown that users don’t look at slideshows; they scroll past them to get to the content. We also avoided the use of background images. While a limited number of background images can be used for aesthetics, they have no other purpose because they have no SEO value and background images are not described for disabled users because they are considered decorative. 

Following are some additional features of the new Rotary Club of Jasper website that increase its usability and make it more sustainable.

  • Videos use “placeholder” images so the video doesn’t load unless you click on it. 
  • We used web safe fonts which require no extra files to display properly on the website. 
  • We carefully determined the ideal image sizes so image dimensions are not larger than necessary and used image compression (including conversion to the modern .webp format) to make sure the file sizes are as small as possible. 
  • We avoided any additional functionality that requires loading additional javascript files.
  • We used a caching plugin and configured it carefully to make sure that everything works well while making the website load as fast as possible.
  • We carefully tested multiple pages of the website to ensure that the performance is optimized.
  • Finally, we use green web hosting to reduce the impact on the environment even further.

In terms of page weight, the Rotary Club of Jasper’s website is 187 KB (7.5% of the Median on Desktop) and 111 KB (5% of the Median on Mobile). As you can see by the graph below websites are getting more bloated, but with a reasonable amount of effort, some planning and commonly-available tools a website can be as lean as those built 15 years ago!

Graph displaying the total size of the Jasper Rotary website.

In terms of page weight, the Rotary Club of Jasper’s website is 187 KB (7.5% of the Median on Desktop) and 111 KB (5% of the Median on Mobile).

Per the Website Carbon Calculator, the Rotary Club of Jasper’s website gets an A+ and is cleaner than 96% of all websites globally. Because it is so lean, the website meets Google requirements for High Performance Websites. Per Google’s Page Speed Insights, the website has perfect scores on both mobile and desktop for Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices (Security) and SEO.

The website now fully loads on desktop in less than 0.5 seconds and in less than 1.5 seconds on a mobile device using a slow LTE (cellular network) connection when tested using GTMetrix, a web based tool for testing website performance.

Frank Gómez, Jasper, GA resident and owner of Empowered Marketing, has a passion for using best practices. This project was completed on a pro bono basis which is a reflection of his commitment to sustainable web design and servant leadership. The new website benefits the Pickens County, Georgia community and the Rotary Club by making it much easier to update and to share information with the public and with club members. Experience how Jasper Rotary has gone the “extra mile” at its new site, You can make your website more sustainable too! Contact Frank at 941-374-7711 or for a free consultation.