Green I/O
#8 - Anne Faubry and Tom Jarrett - Sustainable Design from the trenches
September 27, 2022
In this episode, we took a virtual Eurostar between Paris and London and met Anne Faubry, a Board Member of Ethical Designers ⚖️, and Tom Jarrett, a seasoned designer involved in the ClimateActionTech community where he designed its Branch online magazine 📰. Both are recognized thought leaders in the Sustainable Design field because they implement Sustainability from the trenches 👩‍💻. Based on their hands-on experience, we discussed demand-responsive design, Anne's guide to digital eco-design and how designers juggle today between many requirements from accessibility to security and sustainability 🤹.
In this episode, we took a virtual Eurostar between Paris and London and met Anne Faubry, a Board Member of Ethical Designers ⚖️, and Tom Jarrett, a seasoned designer involved in the ClimateActionTech community where he designed its Branch online magazine 📰. Both are recognized thought leaders in the Sustainable Design field because they implement Sustainability from the trenches 👩‍💻. Based on their hands-on experience, we discussed demand-responsive design, Anne's guide to digital eco-design and how designers juggle today between many requirements from accessibility to security and sustainability 🤹.

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Transcript (automatically generated)


[00:00:00] Gael: Hello, everyone. For this episode, we took a virtual Eurostar connecting London in Paris to meet both and and Tom Jarret, two great thought leaders in the sustainable design field. Actually, we spent the three last episodes talking mostly about infrastructure hosting cloud and how to green them. However, everything starts with design, how we design our digital products and service.
In the early stage can have a lot of consequences, both good and bad on the carpet footprint or the impact on plan obsolescence, for instance. So let's meet Anne and Tom to talk about it. Anne is a board member of designer, et ethical designers in English. And a freelance UX design. After graduating from the Leon business school, she joined IBM for several years first as a consultant in digital transformation.
And then as a UX designer, after earning a certificate in this field from the prestigious gold de blah, the top design school in Paris, she has worked in the Netlands and in Japan. Quite a busy professional life. Indeed. And I did not even mention her university lecturing. Tom Jared has been a designer for 14 years.
He started when using flash was cool. He has worked in both big and small digital agencies. And five years ago he found his foot spots at normally a research and design studio, which experiments a. From working a four day working week to salaries being calculated, banned algorithm, and so on and beyond experimenting.
Tom is also involved in the climate action community, starting with designing its branch magazine. Welcome Anne and Tom. Thanks a lot for joining Greeno today. 
[00:01:39] Anne: Hi gael. 
[00:01:39] Tom: Hey. 
[00:01:40] Gael: So, first of all, what did I forget to mention about you? What did I miss in your bio? 
[00:01:46] Anne: Well, , it's hard to, summarize one or two sentences.
I think your bio was great. at the moment. since I'm a freelancer, I've been working on a few projects, so to explain a bit more, what I do in my daily professional life is I advise companies, organizations, in the sustainability. regarding their web practices and as a designer, I can, redesign their, websites or apps.
So I mainly focus on. Projects, which have a lot of meaning for me, whether it's to work for a museum, organic farmers, a startup, working with energy savings, the national health administration, or the NGO amnesty international. So it's a very diverse range of clients, which is absolutely fascinating. And so I mainly focus on all these, sustainability.
Topics. That's where I'm gonna mention today. 
[00:02:41] Gael: Wow. That's great. And what about you, 
[00:02:42] Tom: Tom? So, yeah, I think your, your bio is great in a summary of normally is really good. also normally we have something where we make space and time for internal projects and something we've kind of called an expedition where we try to explore the material properties of data.
And that's really led me to having some proper time, like at work and with other people to explore the area of sustainable digital design and try out experiments, like tracking my own digital carbon. Use for weeks worth of internet use. and also where we developed cabin, which is like a more private greener web analytics alternative to Google.
Mm. 
[00:03:18] Gael: And we'll talk about that a bit later. There is a question I love to ask my guests, which is what is your journey in the sustainability field? How did you become interested in the sustainability of a digital sector in the first place? Well, 
[00:03:31] Anne: that's a good. if I might go first, I've always been interested in the sustainability, I guess, like try to recycle things from an early age.
And my family was quite, conscious. my mom loves nature and all, like she knows all the birds and plants and everything. but it's still a big journey to realizing what are the big impacts, for example, taking the airplane or eating meat. And so when I joined IBM, five years ago, it was still, some like high technologies was still something I was extremely interested in and I didn't think.
And less growth as something impossible. And I was just really a tech fanatic and thinking that technology could save us all and blockchain was the future. And nowadays I don't think that anymore I became more skeptical regarding high technologies because they are. to consume a lot of energy and resources, and I don't think they're so sustainable anymore.
And I think the, I P C C report of 2018 was a big switch for me. I started joining all the demonstrations for, the planet and. That's when I think I realized by learning more where the real impacts were and what was really sustainable or not. And that's when I started to question the clients we had and, how we could make our business more sustainable.
And eventually I realized in my opinion, that it could not really be, compatible. What we were doing, working for these huge companies, helping them sell more and more, whether it's luxury companies or banks. And I thought that I had, to quit my job at some point. So I think the biggest parts of the journey is to learn, from scientists and I P C, C and realizing where the real impacts are.
And, especially on, in other parts of the world where we don't see the consequences of our actions in Europe, I think was the real eye opening. Moment for me. And that's when, it switched and I still have a lot of, of, the journey is not over there's still lot, a lot to come a lot to do, but that's, there was a tipping point for me, the IPCC reports.
[00:05:42] Gael: And you came already a long way on the road. 
[00:05:45] Anne: Yeah. And in a short time, actually, eventually mm-hmm that gives me hope. when I see myself five years ago, I'm like, oh my God. 
[00:05:55] Gael: and Tom, what about you? 
[00:05:56] Tom: So yeah, I've, I've always loved nature and I've always been interested in the environment and protecting the planet as well from a, quite a young age.
But I thought like the only way I could make an impact in my day to day job as a designer at a studio, Was to just work with charities or NGOs that focus on protecting the rainforests or water reserves or, and it was only really a few years ago when I read about the actual direct impact of the digital products and services that I was designing and my kind of whole outlook on design changed as I answered as well, you start questioning the idea.
Infinite digital growth and technology. And it starts kind of becoming very apparent the glaring gaps in our design processes, and that we weren't, that needed to start considering finite resources, such as energy minerals and water, and really kind of bake that into how we start designing digital products and services.
So yeah, it kind of flipped a switch in me and really just changed kind of how I looked at everything I was designing. 
[00:06:53] Gael: It's fun as this switch being flipped as. Very common story that I hear a lot on this podcast. Like at some point you hear something, you rely something and you just want to align the way you do your job with what you truly believe matters.
Like very, very interesting. Thanks both of you for, for sharing this personal journey. And Tom Greeno is about sharing hands on experience on how to make digital technologies more sustainable. As you stated just before I believe you were highly involved in the design of the branch magazine, published by the cat community climate action tech community, actually.
This online magazine was designed to be sustainable from the very first bite. Could you tell us a bit 
[00:07:32] Tom: more about it? Sure. So, yeah, as you say, I'm a member of a slack group for tech workers, interested in climate action called climate action tech or cat for short. And I saw a post one day from Chris Adams and Michelle th.
Both of whom are fantastic. And I've admired since I started getting into this topic and they were looking for a designer for a new magazine about a sustainable and just internet for, so I kind of replied to slack thread and sent some of my work and we just started kind of working together on the design of the kind of magazine site.
As you say it was kind of like unusual for a project to start thinking about sustainability from the off, you know, it's not normally how, you know, you kind of approach a design project, but it's really how I wanted to start approaching all of my design projects. And we wanted the design of the magazine to kind of reflect the principles of a more sustainable and just internet and also all the amazing articles that were written for it, because like some of the content on the magazine is really amazing and we really wanted the kind of site to reflect.
So I worked closely with Michelle and Chris and the rest of the team, and we started brainstorming how we could do it. The idea behind the design was to try and reflect the physical infrastructure of the internet, as well as trying to kind of reduce the energy use of the site at the same time. So I've previously done some work on creating the concept of network responsive design.
So the idea that apps can show different designs depending on your network connection. So for example, showing heavier more energy intensive experiences when you're on wifi, but when you're on a mobile network like 4g or 5g, The experience of the design is a lot lighter. This because data sent over mobile networks is much more energy intensives than over wifi wired.
And also mobile traffic is just growing and becoming the most common way. We kind of access the internet. So just like how you access the internet matters. It also matters where you access it from. So for branch, we came up with the idea of implementing something that we termed demand, responsive design.
So using an API from electricity map, we could tell what the carbon intensity of the grid was in a user's location. And then we could then serve different designs depending on how many fossil fuels were on the grid, in their location. So we had a few different design states in the magazine. The first was if someone was accessing it on a lower carbon intensity grid.
So there's a lot of renewables on the grid. and in this scenario we show the user, the full magazine experience with all images and videos loading, and it's just, you know, everything, you know, the site as we wanted it to be. But if the grid is like medium carbon intensity and there's more fossil fuels on the grid, We show a more strip back version of the magazine with dithered low resolution images, which is quite popular in the kind of design of more sustainable websites.
And then if the grid is, has a lot of fossil fuels on it at the time it's being accessed, then we, just strip out all the images and videos and use Tex instead. And we kind of crafted the old text to be kind of really nice and descriptive. So you tried to kind of, you know, create an image of what's being shown without having to show.
Which is also great for accessibility. And then the user can kind of choose whether to like download the images on ind on individual articles if they want to, but they're not automatically load. And another state that we thought was kind of important to reflect was if the API was down or, you know, if things weren't working we'd, you know, just say, you know, we haven't actually got the information of what the grid is at the moment, because actually, I think it's important to show sometimes that this technology doesn't actually always work.
So yeah, we had four different design states that try to kind of, reflect the physical infrastructure of the internet 
[00:11:12] Gael: and which kind of feedback did you get from the users? 
[00:11:15] Tom: we got some really great feedback actually. Oh, yeah. A lot of people really loved it. I think we got some feedback initially when we first launched it, that actually it was, people wanted to be able to flip between the different views.
So initially it was just, the magazine was displayed on, you know, whatever, if it was low carb and it'd be the full experience, but sometimes people wanted to kind of experience what it would be like. If it was a high carbon intensity grid and see what the site would look like. So we kind of, for the next issue implemented a switch, so you can flick through it.
And actually that made the experience much better as well. But yeah, it's, it went down really well, but I think it also went down really well because the, some of the content was really, really good. It helps it definitely helps. Yeah. 
[00:11:54] Gael: And, and how much does this project resonate with some of yours? Did you experience many projects like this, like sustainable from the very first bite?
We. 
[00:12:05] Anne: Oh, I always say we, because I work a lot with my, partner in crime, already with whom I wrote the, the design analytic guide. On the other hand, it's a lot of debate among us. The work that branch, did I like the things you can see on organic basics website or on the low tech lab website as well to choose to show images or not to adapt to.
Consumption of, electricity, because I know that the people behind the branch magazine, like Tom, they're very aware of how it works and there are great designers with the sustainability in mind, and we think it's, great tools to raise awareness of people of indeed, as you say, Tom, to realize that's, for example, when you're on a mobile phone, it's gonna consume more energy than, if you're with a wifi connection or depending on how the electricity is produced, where you live at the moment.
On the other hand, I think, we chose not to implement this kind of features on that way. We're on the website we've been working on because we are a bit afraid of the rebounds effect. I think people should understand, and I'm not sure it's always the case that with branch magazine, the highest, like the, the thoughts.
First frugal so that like the high end version is already frugal. And then that shows like, what can we remove in the other versions? But many people might think like, okay, so I put everything I want in the, in the high version, because if it's renewable energy, then I can consume more energy. Maybe like non required one, not, not necessary one.
And that's, the rebound effect we might be afraid of, that people think that, oh, if the energy is greener, then they can consume more. And actually we need either way, whether it's renewable or not, we really need to decrease our consumption of, overall energy, however it is produced. So I think these kind of, features are great because they're thought provoking.
They're great to raise awareness. I wouldn't say it's something to do everywhere. I think it should. yeah, it's great when it's in the right hands and when it's brought to the right way, like, like Tom and, and the others did with Branch magazine, but I think it can be a bit touchy and I think with, Aurélie. We usually think like, It's like with accessibility options, like those add-ons that you could put on your website, like facility it's like, why don't you just make it accessible in the first place? Like, why do you need plugin to make it accessible as an option? Like if it's accessible, it's great for everyone just make it accessible in the first place.
And so with the echo design, usually I think it like this, I'm like, let's just do everything sustainable by design and then limit ourselves to what's really necessary, whatever. The way the electricity is produced. And, so we don't use this kind of options. But again, I think that can be really relevant and, and interesting, especially for a media website, like brunch, who, whose goal is to raise awareness.
So I think it's, it was relevant in that context. Mm fair 
[00:15:03] Gael: point. And Tom, this feature, did you manage to deploy it somewhere else? This demand responsive design or even network responsive 
[00:15:10] Tom: design? Yeah. Good question. to my knowledge, we haven't managed to deploy it anywhere else yet, but the plan was when we get the time to try and open source it.
so that. It can be used by other people. and I would love to do that with network responsive design as well, which I guess is obviously a bit more applicable to kind of mobile apps. So yeah, I think the plan was definitely to kind of write a, a, how to post of kind of how to implement it so that people can use it if they want.
[00:15:33] Tom: But I totally get, Anne's point, which is very good about like, obviously this was about raising awareness, but the overall aim is probably to reduce energy consumption. And that's, I, I guess that starts with kind of awareness, but I, yeah, I do agree.
[00:15:46] Gael: Fair point. Let's go back to Anne, because you mentioned, your partner in crime, or we plan to, to, to speak obviously about the guide to digital liquid design that you released in the early 2020.
In May this year, you released a new version with significant updates and actually have three questions. Yes. It's a lot of work being against in your podcast. So question number one, is it available in English? Question number two. Why did you create such a document and question number three? Your chapter number two.
Yes, I read it. Your chapter number two is all about assess and measures. So what impact did this guide that had on the designer community? 
so let's answer to the question in the right order. First, the, the, the guide was available in English. So the first release was actually translated and implemented in English.
the second. We haven't done that work yet. So I'm sorry for our English readers, but, and the second version is twice as long as the first, but still the first one is like a 45 page, long PDF equivalent. So you still have a lot of content variable in English and, we will, translate it in like the second we will translate the second, version in English as.
[00:16:56] Anne: Coming up. why did we 
[00:16:58] Gael: we'll make some noise about it? Don't worry. 
[00:17:01] Anne: thank you. and then the reason why we created such documents, the first reason was actually for ourselves because Al and I, we both had read a few books and documents on the sustainable web design in back in 2000, 19 and 20. And so we started to have our own, guidelines.
Both of us in our own, computer. And so we thought maybe we should put them in. And then we thought maybe we should share them online because probably other people are doing the same in their corner. And so if everybody put their guidelines together, then we have already something great to start with.
And so we wanted to write an article and thought that the association design analytic ethical designers would be a great place, to, publish it. And they. And then the article became a whole guide. We had so much to say , there was a, there already was so much information available that the, the guide became quite long.
And the reason we felt the need to write it was that most of the content regarding sustainable, web and the app design was mainly for developers. It was very technical. sometimes it had implications, and consequences regarding the design, but you really needed to be aware of what it meant and to read between the lines to understand it.
So our goal was to make it more understandable. And to show to designers that's most of the leverage we can make regarding the environmental impact is actually in the design phase, so that the, at the early stages of the project, that is what was missing on the web at, at that time. I think this designer point of view.
And I think our last differentiator was to make it very, easy to read with a lot of examples. A lot of the French content available at that time was more thorough maybe, but again, really hard to understand what it meant. So we, we show like good examples, bad examples. We try. And we also like share the guidelines in the order of the stages of a project, because sometimes it's just, classified by, by job or by, technical solution that we try to, to, really like sort them out from understanding the client's problem to communicate about your project and to make it more easy to use for designers.
Not only designers, but also other users who might be interested. Fair point. Yeah. . And so regarding the assessment and measures, we don't have many measures because we didn't look for them but we know that we have around 3000 people visiting the website each month, which doubled. Between the two releases.
So we know that a lot of people come to us towards the association, thanks to the guide. We know that a lot of, companies and organizations share it with their colleagues, share it among the teams. And a lot of people come to us afterwards for advice or for trainings to, you know, further more, how to implement that in their job.
So we know it had an impact, and that's how far I can go with. The figures 
[00:20:18] Gael: well, that, that's pretty impressive. Congratulations to, to both of you, Tom, did you read this guide? 
[00:20:22] Tom: Yeah, of course. I think it's great. when I kind of talk with designers or give a talk somewhere, Often I get asked for something exactly like this, because like answer a lot of the guides are more technical.
maybe some of them aren't so practical, maybe they're kind of geared more towards developers, but people are really looking for kind of practical guides and things with examples and things that are kind of usable in a day to day. And I think this is great for this, so I'm definitely gonna be directing people to it, especially when it's kind of translated fully in English as well.
[00:20:55] Tom: Cuz this is exactly the sort of thing. Designers I speak to are looking for. Okay. That's that's very good news. Yeah. 
[00:21:01] Anne: Great. Thank you. 
[00:21:04] Gael: So we have more norms, more guides, but do we really make progress in sustainable design? Here is a fun fact. The title of chapter four of the guide to digital co-design is start with mobile first design.
As a reminder, this guide was released in 2021 and in 2016, Tim freak wrote exactly the same thing in the chapter five. He's designing for sustainability book B mobile first and adopt progressive enhancement. What do you think about it has sustainability in our digital sector improved these last years.
Tom you became a designer 14 years ago, so you can shoot first . 
I think a hundred percent, it has improved in the last few years. It's become more of a conversation now than it was before, but I think that that was quite a low starting point. So maybe there's still a bit of a way to go in awareness.
[00:21:56] Tom: And I think it differs from country to country. So perhaps France is maybe more kind of progressive in the conversations around this and perhaps the UK is, but as you say, I've been designing for a while and I remember being told off by developers. Supplying designs or assets that were too heavy. but now like storage memory, CPU, and bandwidth, all an abundance and cheap.
So optimization's kind of gone out the window, but I feel the awareness is, is creeping in, in terms of mobile. I, I agree. It's a good place to start. And through the sustainability lens is also a great place to start. Like I said earlier, you know, reducing energy use saw mobile, because it's more energy intended than wifi.
Yeah, I think, I think that is a good place to start. And it's interesting to kind of have the conversations with designers around the awareness. There, it is definitely a bit more of a conversation, but I think there's a, there's a long way to go, especially in, some of the kind of larger companies that have more scale and reach as well.
Oh, that's 
[00:22:44] Gael: interesting because you mentioned the deliver of awareness about sustainable UX designer and that's indeed an issue, which I'd love to have your opinion on both of you and fun fact. Again, last week I read two things. Which send two very opposite signals. Firstly, an article in Forbis, which the title was, why web designers need to think about sustainable web design.
Okay, great. Secondly, opposed from a so and Johns, who is, one of the founder of, the sustainable UX community. So big kudo to him and in the slack workspace, he questioned the low avail of awareness. He still experiences. When he gives talks and I'm quoting him here whenever I give a talk about sustainable UX before the talk, I often have the feeling that everybody in the room already must know what I'm about to say.
Reality is the total opposite. Every time people approach me say thank you and say, They haven't thought about all of this until now. So my questions would be the following ones. Did sustainable UE become mainstream or is it just greenwashing? How aware are designers around the globe about sustainability?
[00:23:54] Tom: I definitely, yeah, I've definitely had that feeling. giving a talk about sustainable design and being surprised about, how few people were kind of aware of a lot of the issues in that area. So for sure. I don't think it's become mainstream mm-hmm yet, and I think it's got a long way to go, perhaps before it does, greenwashing is a tricky one.
There's always a risk of that happening anywhere. and it's obviously very prevalent in a lot of, kind of, industries at the moment. I, I do think people are becoming a bit wiser to it. Now, maybe they're not taking companies on face value. You know, there's so many kind of different terms for carbon neutral carbon, zero carbon negative.
And I dunno, my hope is that the tactic of greenwashing is kind of short term and ultimately the kind of companies that are actually not trying to make a change or kind of suffer the effects of not doing so. Cause I think people are gonna be looking for. You know, real progressive action and companies that actually take things seriously, rather than just sticking buzzwords and green labels on top of things.
So, yeah, that's, that's kind of the direction I think it is going, but I do think we've got a long way to go before it's, before it's mainstream 
[00:24:57] Gael: and Ann, what's your opinion on it? 
[00:25:00] Anne: I agree as well. There's a greater disparage between the level of knowledge from one person to another regarding, sustainable.
But sometimes when it's a specific conference on that topic, people who come are people who are already interested and aware, and sometimes I have the opposite, reaction people come to me like it was nice, but it was, I wanted to dig deeper. Like I already knew most of it. So fortunately there are both exists.
So when I try to. When I give a conference, I try to give a very specific advice and also like more general, overview so that anybody can, get something away from it regarding the, this level of awareness. I think a lot of designers are stuck in agile sprints, as I can, notice. And so they are frustrated because I think sometimes agility doesn't let, design.
Take a step back, train themselves, dig deeper, even do some user research. A lot of UX designers are frustrated because they tend to do a lot of UI, but not so much UX. as far as I could, exchange with, them from a lot of different companies. So even in the companies, sometimes we go to training them on this specific topic that like, it's great, but when are we gonna be able to just.
Sit down and think more thoroughly on our design language to make it more sustainable. So they, they have a lot of pressure to release very often. And as to said, because the Ben white is so big nowadays, they don't think so much, about optimization. The, the final thing I wanted to say regarding greenwashing was that.
Indeed, more and more companies are aware of that and, tend to, to pay attention, not to, to get any backfire on their communication. However, I think that a lot of them do greenwashing without meaning to, because they don't know where the real impact are. So when we talk about, sustainable web design, They mainly focus on the energy consumption or worse, the electricity consumption, which is not an environmental indicator, because depending on how the electricity is produced, it can be very viable.
So then only look at the, at how much energy is consumed while navigating the website. And that's not how, it should be, considered because 75% of the impacts of the digital industry is actually in the hard. That's required to run, these websites and apps. So the main goal of echo design is to make, the hardware last longer.
So we don't need to, to change so often our smartphones, especially, and computers because, they tend to, to be too slow to, to charge anything and to download a new app. So. I think a lot of companies really focus only on that. And then they don't realize they don't question, their hosting supplier or they don't question how often they might change their computers.
Then it becomes greenwashing. If they start to communicate on this, on the, the energy use to run their website only without considering the whole, digital strategy, then it's greenwashing. And I don't realize that. So. Sometimes. Yeah. Greenwashing is, is not always on purpose yeah. It's 
[00:28:06] Gael: because they didn't do a digital collage and otherwise they would have read the very same car that the one as you've described regarding the three quarter of the environmental footprint being beared by a.
Hardware rather than electricity consumption, as you said, but that's, indeed, but yeah, still a long, still a long way to go, but I'd like to bounce back on something you mentioned regarding both of you, the bandwidth, and it connects me with the norms and guides that we now have in the word of web design.
So we have w three C standards, like obvious with the accessibility guide, the defacto standard for web performance, with Google lighthouse, old fashioned, but still relevant security standard. And now we have also to take sustainability into consideration. So my point is, while designers are constrained a lot in very short time sprint and they even struggle to do UX, as you rightfully mentioned, that's a complaint that I heard a lot.
Has it become too complicated for designers to deal with all 
[00:29:06] Tom: those imperatives? Yeah. I don't think it's become too complicated. I think we to start embedding it within education for designers, which is why I think. You know, lecturing and working with students is important. I think that's kind of where it needs to start, but even designers now, it, it's not too much to think about at all.
It's just, we need to create the time within the process to be able to think about it. And we need to repurpose our current design processes. And move them away from being focused on optimizing for business and growth objectives, moving away from being all about getting more clicks, more attention, more conversions, and we just need to allow designers to kind of reflect and consider the environment and make it an integral part of.
How we think about digital products and services, because at the moment it's in it, isn't in our processes at all. And I think that, I think that's what the problem is. I don't think it's too much to put them in there either. And accessibility should be the integral part of that as well. 
[00:29:59] Anne: The other day I was giving a training on eco design to, in a company.
And one guy came to me at the end. He was maybe 40 or 45 and he told. You know, when I hear about the guidelines of echo design, I just, I just, it just seems to me that I'm hearing my developer classes from 15 years ago on how to optimize, images and the code. And, and as Tom said earlier it before, like before the Ben whites were so big, we, we could, we really needed.
To make all these optimizations and nowadays we don't even, try to most of the times. So for me, it's not complicated in the sense that it's just going back to the basics. A lot of the, of the advice given is just like going to the real need of the user, serving it and no more. And it's just making good UX and, And making quality, web performance websites.
And I think UX got, really out of its real purpose by serving as, to said, more, Attention purposes and clicks and conversion rates. And sometimes at the expense of a worse experience for the user, because we ha we are a bit, harassed, when we navigate websites. So eventually it's, it is a constraint, but constraints can make us more creative and it creates also a virtual circle because a lot of the guidelines, for echo design as the same ones as with accessibility, The respect of the attention of the users, the respect of its, privacy and also the, the good, guidelines for perform.
And then SEO and actually a lot of those recommendations go towards the same direction eventually, meaning that it's not so complicated because it's not like adding up, it's a group of guidelines, which are really consistent between all of them. Yeah. Which can also enhance creativity. 
[00:31:56] Gael: is it what you referred as a virtuous cycle concept?
Somehow? I, I heard you talk about it. Yeah, 
[00:32:03] Anne: exactly. Few weeks ago, because if you make a, if you make a website, more sustainable, if I can say so then it's more accessible and if it's more accessible, then it's more performance because, for example, Google will, enhance. More accessible websites in his, in its SEO.
And it will, also be more respectful of people. Attention. The great example of that is autoplay videos. It's bad for the environment. It's bad for the attention of the user. It can be bad for the experience. It's bad for accessibility. It's bad for SEO because it's gonna make it very heavy and not accessible.
So, if you remove another play video, you're gonna really increase the performance in all those fields. That's 
[00:32:43] Gael: very interesting because in green IO, we focus almost solely on the environmental impact of digital technologies and we keep our focus on it, but it doesn't mean that the other aspects are not important.
Also, and sustainably obviously covers much more with, people and profit coming with planet life. We mentioned the three P for instance, there is a lot of discussion about ethics, which you rightfully mentioned. I could mention Mike Montero's work in the us or Emily share works. in France. I wanted to ask you both of you.
If you had to pick one message beyond being green, when it comes to sustainable UX, what 
[00:33:22] Tom: would it. I think for me, it would be to make sure that the internet is a public resource. It needs to be open and accessible to everyone all over the world. I think one of the main things we need to talk about more focus on is somehow moving it away from the kind of privatization of this infrastructure.
And it kind of being held in the hands of three or four giant corporations, because I think that's a lot of the challenges we face is not having, you know, we don't have access to. A lot of the data that's needed on energy use and all, a lot of the infrastructure. So I think aside from the sustainability, it's deeply embedded within it, but there's big kind of questions around accessibility for everyone.
And also the kind of growing privatization of the infrastructure that we pretty much all rely 
[00:34:05] Anne: on for me, I would say, I like to quote Satish Kuma, who's, an Indian, activist regarding environment and the social issues. He said something. And I think I really agree that you cannot take care of the planet without taking care of the people.
Like if our goal is to make the world more sustainable, we. Gonna need to take everyone on board and to think about development and prosperity. And it's not gonna, like many people cannot afford to be as environmentally responsible than others. So we need to, to take everyone on board. And so it means making accessible website, of course, but also it means to think about all the people working in their mind.
Extracting all the resources we need to run our computers and the, and networks and the world doesn't have an, an endless, amount of supplies and resources. So we should use them wisely because it's gonna be more and more complicated and expensive. Take them out of the earth and to transform them into digital device.
So that would be maybe I'm, I'm cheating a bit. That would be my two points. with the need to take care of the people and the need to, to use more wisely, the resources we have at 
[00:35:14] Gael: hand. And if we take these two pieces of advice that you shared, both using more wisely, a very limited stock of, resources and maintaining the internet as an open system.
If you take that into consideration, did you find some time? In situation where you had to question the why, the very purpose of, your buyin for instance. And my, my question is, did you find yourself in situations where making design more sustainable was not enough, no matter how reduced enough said the got three of your clients' operation were and how beautiful the communication is at some points, does the why challenges with you as.
[00:35:56] Anne: I have a, a great, privilege of being able to choose my clients. So I only work for projects in which they believe in for which I think there's a, there's a lot of, meaning and, and I think it's a, it's relevant for them to, to use resources because of their purpose. However, sometimes I still feel that it can, clash, especially within companies I give trainings in.
So then they have the choice to implement or not the guidelines I give, usually when it clashes it's with the business model, especially when it's, publicity oriented. So like with the social media, usually people, when I give them all the guidelines are like, yeah, but then. What about like Facebook or Instagram?
Like that's, that's the business model here, or even in splash.com and I'm like, yeah, that's, that's my point. Like the most sustainable you want to, you want to become the more you need to rethink your business model. Like it can get really deep. And so with, the publicity based business models and the eCommerce, which is a lot about, increasing the average, basket.
Of a client and the, and the amount of a product, he purchases then it's U it usually clashes with the, with the guidelines. And I think it doesn't clash if you look long term, but the, the issue is that most people in these companies have short term goals and objectives. And so they need like, it's Christmas.
They need to sell that much. And to make that percentage of growth. And it clashes with the, maybe the long term goals of the company regarding sustainability and brand image, because sometimes they're gonna harass the clients with a lot of publicity. And, whereas if the website was really comfortable and, maybe clients would come more that's long term strategy compared to short term strategy.
And that's when it clashes the most, from what I can, observe. 
[00:37:50] Gael: Now that the very definition of sustainability. And what about you, Tom? Did you experience such kind of a clash? 
[00:37:57] Tom: Yeah. I mean, obviously there's always gonna be clashes and contradictions and I guess part of working for the studio when you're working with clients is a as a way of trying to kind of balance that.
I agree with what I said. Well, a lot of it is it's short term thinking over long term, that is a kind of large part of the problem. Yeah. It's impossible not to ask yourself questions when seeing some of the kind. Startups and projects that kind of go on in the, in the kind of tech space, you know, does the world need a internet connected salt shaker?
And you know, why are so many talented designers working on a tool to serve more digital ads? But I think, I dunno, I feel like the way you're gonna kind of make the most impact is. By working with big clients and big companies and trying to kind of, you know, be part of the solution, you know, rather than standing on the kind of preface looking in.
but yeah, it's always gonna be a bit of a balance and a bit of a contradiction. Yes, 
[00:38:49] Gael: indeed. And be mindful of time. I'd like to ask you the two final questions to both of you. Obviously the first one being what makes you optimistic today regarding our past toward a greener digital. 
[00:39:01] Anne: what makes me optimistic might be the realization that the European governments are starting to tackle the issue, whether it's at the European union level or the French government, which is not the most, environmental friendly government, we can have.
But even this government, it, it passed a law last year regarding the reduction of, the environmental footprint of the digital, business, sector. So if the government, sets the trend, whether it's in inside administration, as it does already, or whether it's, by passing laws, I think things can change, on a wider level than, what it had until now where only individuals acted on this topic.
So that makes me hopeful. And especially because now the, the subject is brought towards the, the European union and the European union did some great things regarding the production of, of data and privacy of the users. So I think it can really do interesting things regarding, sustainability of the digital sector.
[00:40:00] Tom: I think there's loads of good reasons to be optimistic about the path to designing more sustainable digital products and services. the good news is there's so much low hanging fruit, so much wasteful redundancy built into our internet infrastructure, and we can make a massive difference by simply trying.
Because at the moment, we're not even doing that. We're not trying. And I feel like we can make huge gains by doing that. And also, as I said before, if we can educate younger designers about their issues, then we'll really start to see the kind of awareness increase and influence the kind of design of digital products we use every day.
And that's the main reason I think I'm optimistic. Cause whenever I do lecturer workshops with young people, they really care about sustainability and they really wanna make sure that the work they're doing in the future has a positive. So I think that's, that's one of the main reasons to be optimistic for me 
[00:40:45] Gael: and to help actually there's young generation, I'd like to ask my final question, which is what will be your recommendations to learn more about sustainable design.
[00:40:54] Tom: I'd recommend anyone interested, joins the climate action tech slack community. there's so there's so many amazing people on that channel working in that space. And I just find so many good articles and conversations happening there. there's separate channels for design and other disciplines as well as kind of different locations.
And it's just a really great pace to kind of meet like-minded people working in the same area rather than kind of working or thinking about it in silo. So I think it's just much better kind of working with other people. So, yeah, I'd, I'd recommend anyone interested, joins that really? Because I 
[00:41:24] Gael: I've never mentioned this community ever.
[00:41:28] Tom: well, yeah, it's a 
for me, most of my resources are in French, but, there's one which is available in English, which I, which I really love. It's the blog of, good. So we can, add, this, this, URL, his hyperlink in the description of the podcast, but, he's a French researcher, from a design background, but now he's more of a researcher.
Around the, the environmental impacts of the digital industry. He did his PhD in England, so he wrote lots of his papers in English, and they're really accessible though, highly technical. And he has this great over, view of the whole, production chain and where the impacts are. He's a specialist in 5g in semiconductors.
[00:42:09] Anne: In, fuller life cycle analyzes. So I think it's great to read, his papers to get a better overview on what the rebounds effects are or what the impacts, on the, the mining industry are. Yeah, very accessible. All free. available online in English. Yes. 
[00:42:27] Gael: Is a very strong voice in the digital sustainability field.
And we need more like him. Thanks a lot for sharing all of this. That's not a non material that you've shared, but that's always good to remember it. and that was very insightful feedback that you and, and experiences that you shared. I really enjoyed the discussion between the two of. So I would like to thank you again for joining the show.
That was really, really great to have you here today. So thanks a 
[00:42:55] Anne: lot. Thank you, Gail. Thank you, 
[00:42:57] Gael: Tom. Yeah. Thank you. And for our next episode, we will go to Chicago to meet a legend. Someone mentioned several time in the show, Tim Frick, and I'm sure our discussion will bring new perspective to the one we had with Anne and Tom today.

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