I hope that my post finds you in good health, confined as well as possible in your cocoon of words, of hope, of dreams or of music! Following the reading of the excellent book by Frédéric Bordage “Digital sobriety”, I wanted to explore the main levers on which we could act to improve the digital sobriety of our content strategies. Here are some non-exhaustive avenues for reflection
How to think your content strategy in the light of ecological issues?
In November 2017, almost all the countries of the planet committed to reducing their greenhouse gases to avoid climate runaway by signing the Paris climate agreement. However, digital technology currently consumes 10 to 15% of the world’s electricity and this consumption doubles every 4 years! In 2019, if global digital were a country, it would have around 2 to 3 times France’s footprint according to the report Green.it’s global digital environmental footprint. The situation is not sustainable. So where do you start when you want to design content strategies that are lighter for the planet?
Ecodesign and quality of websites
Still according to Green.it, the main sources of global digital impact in 2019 were related to:
1-the manufacture of user equipment
2-the electrical consumption of this equipment
3-the electricity consumption of the network
4-the consumption of data centers
5-the manufacture of network equipment and equipment hosted by computer centers (servers, etc.)
In other words, a large part of the solution to reducing the digital environmental footprint lies on the side of reducing the number of devices, increasing their lifespan, improving their recycling, ” optimization of user equipment and reduction of the needs of digital services through their ecodesign.
The eco-design of large-scale websites is a way of reducing the environmental impact of digital technology. The ecodesign of digital services is based on simplifying systems and interfaces by focusing on the essential needs of users, and no more. Frédéric Bordage advises to start by designing the digital service for smartphones and stop there. “This so-called“ mobile first ”design approach eliminates all the functional and graphic“ fat ”. ”
The certification Opquast web quality also transmits a set of effective good practices from the point of view of digital sobriety.
The low-tech approach applied to the web also aims to make digital technology simpler and more accessible, focused on sharing useful information. The Low-tech solar magazine, designed in a great economy of means shows what a website with a reduced ecological footprint looks like: quality written content, very light images, navigation focused on the essential. Read about it “How to create a low tech website”
Well-thought-out content strategies
On the content strategy side, the approach involves focusing on the information needs of Internet users, responding to their request in the most efficient way possible, publishing useful and high-quality content according to the principles defined in the reissue of our book on web content strategy, co-written with Alexandra Martin, Miss SEO girl, and published by Eyrolles editions, the version of which will be released this spring with many updates.
Ferréole Lespinasse, founding member of the Kontnü collective, committed to editorial ecodesign, also described the 6 principles of editorial sobriety as follows:
1 – Build an authentic and coherent communication base
That is to say, think about the basis of its identity before speaking about its media ecosystem.
2 – Qualify the content needs of its target
Understand the questions and needs of its Internet users in order to answer them precisely.
3 – Set up a reasoned communication system
Properly sizing your editorial ecosystem according to your means
4 – Sustainable and impactful content
Publish useful, high-quality content
5 – Apply the golden rules of web writing and clear language
Simplify, prune, choose the right word, say better in fewer words
6 – Eco design its content
Optimize your documents (images, typography, code) to lighten your web pages and favor low-impact formats
That is to say, respect the main principles of a good content strategy in being particularly attentive to the weight of the formats.
Also read the article ” Content creators, stop! It’s time to go slow content»Signed Dixxit
Reconciling creativity and sober formats
According to the Shift project, “Data traffic is responsible for more than half of the global energy impact of digital technology, with 55% of its annual energy consumption. Each byte transferred or stored requires large-scale terminals and infrastructures that require energy (data centers, networks). In 2018, video feeds accounted for 80% of global data feeds and 80% of their annual volume increase. The remaining 20% consisted of websites, data, video games, etc. The rapid growth in the total volume of data – and therefore in energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions – is thus in large part due to video.
To give you an idea, ten hours of high definition film is more data than all of Wikipedia’s English articles in text format! Online video viewing generated in 2018 more than 300 MtCO2, or as much greenhouse gas as Spain, or nearly 1% of global emissions, knowing that pornographic videos constitute 27% of all video traffic online around the world.
In video streams, “online video” occupies the most important place, with 60% of global data streams in 2018. In other words, video files accessible via the servers of a distribution platform (such as YouTube, Netflix, etc.) or direct distribution circuits (operator packages, etc.) without the file being permanently downloaded.
Read the report “Climate: the unsustainable use of online video” https://theshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-01.pdf
Our profession designs content strategies in which online videos play an increasingly important role. Should we continue to flood the web with videos, or on the contrary use this format sparingly, only when it is necessary to convey a message? I am campaigning for the second option. We can explore many alternative editorial paths in terms of formats: for example, imagine lighter videos, explore the creativity of interactive written storytelling like Wikipedia – more energy-efficient – or create new ways of communicating.
At the launch of its committed documentary on wild rivers “Blue Heart”, the Patagonia company, for example, offered its customers the opportunity to view the film on a screen while meeting in a sports hall in their city. This approach, which aims to bring together people linked by the same values around a local event, offers interesting avenues for reflection.
Reconcile SEO visibility and sobriety of digital communication
Improving your visibility on search engine result pages means publishing content, or even a lot of content on a particular subject in order to be recognized as an expert in your field. So how do you reconcile digital sobriety with a content strategy whose main objective would be to position your company or your institution on user research intentions?
Asked about this subject in PLUME Interactive at the end of 2019, Alexandre Leblanc wondered about the possibility of reconciling editorial sobriety and SEO visibility, because of the evaluation mechanisms used by Google to gauge a site’s relevance to a search intent. Indeed, the more an HTML document corresponds to a search intention with a qualitative and voluminous content, rich from a semantic point of view, the more this document is likely to be visible in the results.
For its part, the rSEO expert Sébastien Billard underlined the low weight of the texts in terms of storage and bandwidth compared to videos and images. He recalled that the text version without images of Wikipedia, in Zim format, weighs “only” 9 GB while it contains a considerable amount of information: “the question of editorial sobriety as regards the only text of my point of view does not really arise. Publish freely, as long as it is useful! For him the real problem is played on the side of the sobriety of the code of the web pages; ” According to HTTP Archive, at the end of 2010, the average weight of a web page was around 470kB. Currently it is around 1830kB! However, I do not have the impression that the pages are richer in terms of information than 9 years ago. ”
It now remains to test these theories to find out who is right!
Digital sobriety in content strategy remains a work in progress. The Kontnü collective has made it its 4th pillar in the code of ethics for content professionals that we presented last January at the Kontinüum conference and we will explore this dimension in the months and years to come. Do not hesitate to join the collective if the subject interests you!
I am interested in all your ideas and information on this subject, so feel free to comment 🙂
For digital sobriety, thehe reports the Schift project
Has The Schift project really overestimated the use of video?
Digital sobriety by Frédéric Bordage published by Buchet / Chastel
Web ecodesign: the 115 best practices – 3rd edition by Frédéric Bordage published by Eyrolles
The 72 Green It best practices of Opquast in partnership with the Nouvelle Aquitaine region
Responsible communication guide of Ademe
Reduce the energy footprint of videos at Yocot