Just like any digital product, e-commerce stores built on Shopify have a real environmental impact. Navigating this impact is a bit like solving a puzzle - one which is complex and has conflicting perspectives on what the desired outcome should be.
Whilst Shopify consistently strives to improve its platform and evolve the infrastructure, the implementation of third-party apps alongside native Shopify functionality is often necessary. These third-party apps can significantly limit potential performance scores on universal benchmarking tools such as Google Lighthouse, Digital Beacon, Ecograder and Website Carbon.
To address this in the most meaningful way, we opt for constructing a constantly evolving framework, which we call Conscious Development™. This framework is designed for continuous development and measurement, ensuring the minimisation of real-world impact on e-commerce stores built on Shopify.
We achieve this by establishing specific success criteria across four essential pillars:
Design and user experience (UX) play a huge part when it comes to the effectiveness and environmental impact of an e-commerce store, from its physical drain on consumer devices to the content and user journey that guide the users throughout the design.
The core code of your Shopify store needs to be as efficient as possible in order to have a minimal impact on the planet by using less energy to run. Ensuring that the code of your website is as streamlined as possible also has the advantage of being easier and quicker to develop, debug and maintain.
How easily people can use your Shopify store is just as important as its impact on the planet. We adhere to a wide variety of accessibility guidelines to ensure that our stores are usable by everyone, regardless of physical ability.
We make a conscious effort to work with tech partners that share our purpose-led values and strive to make a positive impact on our planet.
To measure the impact of e-commerce stores using this framework, we’ve developed a scoring matrix that uses a variety of tools and best practices to measure key indicators across each of the four pillars, which are scored out of 100.
Why don’t all of our projects score 100 across the board? It’s all about balance.
An e-commerce store on with the lowest possible impact would be greyscale in its design, only feature text content (no images) and no additional functionalities such as customer reviews and payment processors. A truly “sustainable” e-commerce store on Shopify would severely limit the possibility of actually selling products or engage customers in a meaningful way.
Our responsibility is to help our clients find the right balance between impact, profit and purpose.
Here is what we consider when building stores on Shopify.
Streamlining user journey
We use best UX practices to limit the amount of data and energy consumed by each user by helping them find and purchase the products they’re looking for in the shortest amount of time possible.
Responsive page design
We craft unique, lightweight and intuitive experiences for the majority of web users who now use mobile devices as their primary method of exploring the web.
Prioritising dark mode and reduced colour palettes
Focusing on darker colour palettes that result in less power consumption and increased battery life on mobile devices, alongside improved text readability for those who suffer from dyslexia and better sleep for those who view their screens late at night.
Avoiding ‘Dark Patterns’
Making deliberate design decisions around required user actions to keep them obvious and easy to complete. This means no intrusive pop-ups, suddenly shifting content or any hidden surprises along the way.
Content is one of the biggest factors when considering the impact of your Shopify store. Contrary to older advice to pump your site full of text and images, we believe it's key to only include what's absolutely necessary.