When we started to think about the redesign and relaunch of the Nicola Harding & Co website and the introduction of an online store for NiX, we wanted to create something that dovetailed with our core values and supported our commitment to minimising our carbon footprint.
Read on to see how, with a little help from a forward-thinking e-commerce agency, our vision for a planet-friendly website came to life.
What is a sustainable website?
The environmental impact of our online activities is not something many of us think about. The internet can often feel invisible yet it is very much a physical thing. Powered by huge data centres, it is responsible for around 4% of global emissions - more than the entire airline industry and is growing by 5% each year. Every action we take online produces a carbon footprint, no matter how insignificant it might feel.
At Nicola Harding & Co, we consider the wider impact of every product we make and every project we work on, so it makes perfect sense that this should include the design of our digital home. We wanted a website that would not only provide our customers and clients with a fantastic user experience and clearly communicate what we offer, but also support the future of our planet.
Luckily, we found just the right people for the job. Noughts & Ones is a Shopify agency that specialises in custom e-commerce stores for purpose-led, sustainable brands. As well as working with ethical brand partners, it also focuses on digital sustainability and achieving best-in-class e-commerce stores that are designed and built with the environment in mind. The Noughts & Ones team develop websites using a framework it has coined Conscious Development™. The pillars of this framework are the agency’s guiding principles and impact every decision that it makes as well as the recommendations it makes to its clients.
“We were absolutely ecstatic about the opportunity to work with Nicola Harding & Co,” enthuses Noughts & Ones founder Tom Locke. “I would say that they are the ideal client for Noughts & Ones because not only is sustainability baked into their product and service but they are open to considering and exploring the wider impact of their website.”
How we did it
To reduce the light output of user screens, Noughts & Ones prioritised a muted colour palette that kept within the brand identity and avoided the use of white backgrounds. The next most important aspect was the user journey “Our goal was to design the new website around the most streamlined user journey possible both in terms of the site architecture and navigation,” Tom informs. “Furthermore, taking a component-led approach to the content wireframes of the new website meant that the page designs were not only consistent, but flexible and efficient in how they were implemented when it was designed.”
“We did not use a third-party theme for the foundation of the new website - we used our own "starter theme", which means that there is minimal bloat (unnecessary, rarely used code),” explains Tom. “In conjunction with our starter theme, taking a sectional approach to the new website's design and content meant that our component code was easily reusable, further minimising the need for any unnecessary code.”
Our new website maintained consistent accessibility standards throughout the design and build process. Noughts & Ones ensured that all designs achieved Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 Level AA Conformance where possible. It also made sure that all alt-data was present where available on the website platform and that all pages were built using semantic HTML.
“We only recommended tech partners, such as additional tools or integrations outside of the core website platform, that shared the values and vision of both Noughts & Ones and Nicola Harding & Co,” states Tom. “Beyond this, we also partnered with Greenspark to offset the impact of the project by supporting projects with gift impact at each milestone of the project. Together with Nicola Harding & Co, we've planted 100 trees, stopped 200 ocean-bound plastic bottles and offset two Tons of carbon.”
All content uploaded to the new website is optimised against a number of guidelines that were set out. On top of this, Noughts & Ones ensured that all SEO content is available where applicable both in terms of the website's code base and also the page content itself.
A new chapter
“A lot of the unique features of the Nicola Harding & Co website are centred around the product experience,” concludes Tom. “We needed to accommodate a relatively complex product offering in a way that was easy to understand and engage with from a user perspective. Outside of the e-commerce element, I personally love how the imagery on the Project pages provides an immersive experience that makes you want to keep scrolling!”
We hope you enjoy exploring our new website and stay tuned for updates and improvements. We promise to always take an open and honest approach to sustainability. We recognise that we are accountable for all our choices and understand and accept the consequences of our actions for our clients, each other and the world we live in. We will continue to look for ways to minimise our impact, researching and adopting new sustainable practices as they emerge. To find out about other ways in which we are limiting the environmental impact of our operations and working towards a kinder, gentler and more sustainable way of living, read our full statement here.