Author Archives: Gerry McGovern

Mental strain of delivering excellent service

People tend to avoid feeling empathy because it requires too much mental effort, according to a study published by researchers at Penn State University and the University of Toronto, in June 2019. 

“Across all of the experiments, participants on average chose the empathy scenarios 35% of the time, showing a strong preference for the scenarios that didn’t require empathy,” according to a Science Daily report on the study. “There also weren’t any financial costs for feeling empathy in the study because no one was asked to donate time or money to support child refugees or anyone else featured in the photos.”

Participants even avoided feeling empathy in situations involving joy. It seemed like too much effort to participate in the happiness of others. However, when participants were told that they were good at empathy they were then more likely to engage in empathy scenarios and to report that the mental effort was not strenuous. “If we can shift people’s motivations toward engaging in empathy, then that could be good news for society as a whole,” study author, Darly Cameron said. “It could encourage people to reach out to groups who need help, such as immigrants, refugees and the victims of natural disasters.”

Another study found that “in order for the performance of black service providers to be rated equivalent to whites, blacks had to amplify and fake positive emotions to override those negative racial stereotypes. In other words, to be seen as good as white employees, black employees need to perform more “emotional labor”, a concept introduced by sociologist Arlie Hochschild.”

“Though putting on a smile might seem like a small price to pay to get ahead at work, research shows that keeping up a friendly façade is a path to job burnout, a state of complete exhaustion linked to a desire to quit and health issues. Recognizing this situation is a first step to improving conditions for black employees and customers alike.”

Are we as digital professionals designing a service-based world where huge numbers of mentally stressed service workers are forced to fake-smile their way through the day while they beg for ratings from their rich, pampered customers? When we talk about empathy, are we including, or even thinking about service workers? I stopped using personas years ago because I found, again and again, that they were so very often artificial, happy-smiling fakes that much more reflected the designer’s perfect marriage partner than an actual customer.

Empathy should never trump evidence. We need much more logical, evidence-based thinking. Another study found that people with autism have lower levels of empathy but concluded that that may not be a bad thing. It wrote about “selective” empathy where people feel empathy much easier for people like them. “Autism has been linked to higher levels of logical thinking and rational decision making,” the study authors noted. “Autistic people have also been shown to make fairer social decisions.” (Of course, there is no better example than climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s.)

It’s easy to feel empathy for people like you. One of the most critical and most common of design mistakes is the invention of personas of people made in your image.

Study: Empathy is hard work: People choose to avoid empathy because of its cognitive costs

Black employees in the service industry pay an emotional tax at work

Autism is linked to lower levels of empathy – but that may not be a bad thing

As the Web matures, search behavior changes

As the Web matures, we search less for our top tasks, and we search more for our tiny tasks.

When you move to a new city, you’re going to do a lot of searching. You’re going to search for supermarkets, local shops, local cafes and restaurants. The longer you live in the city, the less you’ll search. You’ll know where the supermarket is. You’ll know where your favorite cafes and restaurants are. You’ll search for exceptional things like getting a picture framed. And you’ll search for stuff like whether your favorite café is open over the holidays.

The same happens on the Web. Nearly half of US consumers start their product searches on Amazon, according to 2018 Adeptmind survey. Amazon is that super-supermarket you go to. The Web is settling down.

“Ah, yes! Definitely,” Jono Anderson told me recently when I discussed with him this subject. Jono is a digital strategist and search expert. He gave an excellent talk at the superb GPeC ecommerce conference in Bucharest in May 2019.

“So,” Jono explains, “the role of ‘search’ gradually becomes more and more focused on either being purely transactional on commodity stuff (“Compare X”, “Find me the cheapest Y”), or for research before the problem is defined (“Why is my TV sounding weird?”, “How do I drain a radiator?”, “What is decreasing term life insurance?”), etc.”

Over the years, I have noticed that on badly organized websites, there was a lot of search for top tasks. However, on websites with great navigation and information architecture, the top tasks are easy to find through the navigation, and thus they tend to be searched for less.

Search is a tactic, not a strategy. Long term, you need to become part of the ‘neighborhood’ of your customers. This will require a very different culture, a very different way of thinking. You have to stop obsessing about conversions. You have to become a regular place, a website or app that people want to come back to. How often are you going to go back to that supermarket where they are constantly trying to ‘convert’ you to buy cheese when you came for milk? If the customer can’t find parking, if there’s always a long checkout line, if the products that they want are always out-of-stock, that supermarket is in trouble.

The organizations that don’t become part of regular life, that don’t establish themselves as a reputable, reliable, good value, good experience places in the neighborhood, are really going to struggle. More and more advertising spend will chase less and less attention. It’ll be a vicious race to the bottom for those trying to buy attention and chase conversions.

You’ve got to be useful. You’ve got to serve a purpose. You can’t engage people in your café if the chairs aren’t comfortable, if the tables aren’t clean, if the service is slow because staff are too busy putting up huge banners in the windows while the customers are waiting impatiently for their coffees.

The Web is fast maturing. We need service cultures. Not marketing cultures, or tech, or design cultures. We need people who know how to make a place worth visiting, and more importantly, worth returning to.

What’s a top marketing conversion rate? 5%? Wow! How truly pathetic! In what other universe would 5% be seen as excellent? If you want to thrive in the future, you need to start focusing on the 95%. And not to convert them, but to serve them.


Shortlisting is the process of moving from a long list of often poorly worded statements to a clear list of tasks that might matter to people in a decision-making environment (buying a car, choosing a university, using a piece of software, etc.)

Typically, it takes about three weeks to collect all the potential tasks from competitor environments, analyze search statistics, review previous research, etc. Then it takes about three weeks to get to a final shortlist. Shortlisting works best when it is done in 90-minute to two-hour sessions. Aim to have no more than two to three shortlisting sessions per week.

It sounds counterintuitive but even though a verb such as “find” or “get” might appear like a grammatically good way to describe a task, such verbs are generally unnecessary. Where possible, use a noun to describe a task. For example, avoid writing “Get Pricing”—writing “Pricing” on its own is much better. Keep each task well under 65 characters (8–10 words). The fewer words, the easier to scan.

You’re going to have a lot of overlaps because you’ll have collected possible tasks from multiple sources. Here are some examples:

  • Audit committee
  • Audit policy
  • Audit procedures
  • Auditor certificate

The first step is to identify the core task and then use brackets for the subtasks. For example:

  • Auditing (committees, policy, procedures, certificate)

Ultimately, you want to bring the brackets down to two to three items, but this is a start. Remember that “Auditing” might not even survive as a task. It might become part of “Accounting” or some higher-level task. But don’t worry about that for now. Take one step at a time. Don’t make big decisions in the early stages of shortlisting, just change things little by little. It’s all about iteration and developing a consensus.

You need to remove brands, product names, department names, and subject areas from the list:

  • In a university task-list, do not have the names of the courses (English, Computer Science, Law, etc.).
  • In an intranet task-list, do not have a list of the departments (HR, IT, Accounting).
  • In a company task-list, do not have a list of the products.
  • In a healthcare task-list, do not have a list of the diseases/conditions.

You want tasks that are universal—that work across brands, products, diseases, and departments. No matter what the product, “pricing” works as a task. No matter what the disease, “check symptoms” works as a task.

What do “Knowledge Base”, “Local Resources”, or “Documents” mean? These are vague, meaningless terms—what I call dirty magnets. A dirty magnet is so vague and yet appealing that it can potentially mean anything to anyone. This is dangerous because it can get a big vote and then you won’t know why exactly people voted for it. So remove dirty magnets.

Remove tasks that refer to gender, age, geography or any other demographic or category. Avoid formats such as “reports”, “newsletters”, “documents”, “tools”, “videos”, “forms”, and “templates”. Avoid channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Always try and get to the tasks that these formats and channels might support.

Consider allowing up to five percent of your task-list for ego tasks. These are tasks that the organization feels very passionate about but break some or all of the above guidelines. They may include such tasks as:

  • Senior management speeches
  • Annual report
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Videos

Top Tasks Identification deep dive: Shortlisting – July 8 webinar with Gerry McGovern

Words still matter (even in IT)

Did you hear the joke about the Danish medical system for the amputation of legs? It gives you two choices. To amputate the “left” leg or to amputate the “correct” leg.

Actually, it’s not a joke. It’s an actual IT system installed by Epic Systems (what a name!). 

The Epic health system is most definitely made in the USA, with the developers never, ever imagining that there might just be other cultures, work practices and languages in the world. They felt no need to allow for the localization of the medical terms. The Danish developers were forced to use Google translate. “There were howlers,” Arthur Allen writes for Politico, “C-section,” in the Danish version, referred to an executive suite, not an emergency birth procedure. The American specialty “speech and language pathologist” does not exist in Denmark. The Danish system for a short time offered surgeons the choice of amputating the left leg or the ‘correct’ leg.”

This is so laughably predictable and consistent. Language? Who cares about language? What do words matter anyway? Just throw a few in. Any words will do.

I once asked a localization manager why the English navigation of his organization’s software was so crap. “We need crap English,” was his reply, “because it’s easier to translate into crap German.” And if we can get rid of the words even better. Icons save space and money on translation. We all know that hardly anyone knows what most icons mean. But we’re not in the business of understanding here, you know. Icons are cheap, cheerful and cool. Who cares if we reduce usage of the software by 40%? Look at all the money we saved on translation!

And if they can’t figure out how to use it, we’ll send them to the “Knowledge Base”. Now, that’s a genius term if ever there was one. What’s the rest of the site called? Idiot Hub? And there they can browse through ‘documentation’ until their eyes pop out of their heads. And if they’re truly desperate, they can go to the toxic dumping ground we call “Frequently Asked Questions”. What a gloriously stupid name to call anything! If someone has a question, how do they know it’s a frequently asked question or not? And the maestro who came up with “Quick Links”? What are the other links? Slow Links? Remember “Useful Links”? Useless Links, anyone? Words matter. When will we ever learn?

There were a couple of other common aspects of the Epic Danish catastrophe. In Western Denmark, they had designed a similar system that while not perfect, actually worked pretty well. The Eastern Danes decided to buy the Epic system because, hey, we’re far smarter than those Western Danes. Tribalism is everywhere. It may hide under good dress and manners and well-educated accents, but you only need to scratch a little for that tribal stupidity to come crawling out.

The other thing is they didn’t bother testing with real doctors and nurses. These are serious dudes, you know. They needed to launch on time. The resulting launch was described as “indiscernible, total chaos”, so just another typical launch of an enterprise IT system, I suppose. Doctors and nurses were seen weeping openly for days. Wimps!

You can directly chart the rise of computer technology with the decline in global productivity, the decline of the middle class, and the decline in job satisfaction. It was supposed to be the other way around, wasn’t it?

Lost in translation: Epic goes to Denmark

Net Promoter Score (NPS) metrics are not enough

Anything that focuses on customers is heading in the right direction. Jeff Sauro calls the Net Promoter Score (NPS) “a reasonable proxy for historical or current revenue in some industries and potentially for future revenue and likely self-reported customer retention”.

Conversely, Jared Spool believes that the science behind NPS is “wacky” and that NPS’ biggest flaw is that it tries to reduce things to a single number. “It tries to achieve an outcome that can’t be achieved,” Jared explains. “It’s appealing to our management because it promises to solve a problem that can’t be solved so simply.”

The NPS is imperfect; but then, what metric is perfect? And, yes, it can be dangerous if it is used purely on its own. However, I have found that the organizations who I’ve interacted with in recent years who use the NPS tend to be more customer-centric than the ones that don’t. At least, they’re thinking in the right direction.

The problem with the NPS is that it’s not a great metric for digital teams because it is such a high-level metric. I worked with an organization a while back where the digital team was doing excellent work and they could prove it. Success rates were going up and time-on-task was going down. However, the general economy was turbulent, and the organization was suffering.

Customers felt that the product was too expensive. The NPS declined and some of the blame came down to the digital team. A new head of marketing came in and decided to do something BIG. Usability and customer experience were thrown out the window in the aggressive pursuit of more sales and big branding statements. The website was pumped full of corporate videos, stock photography, and effusive, meaningless content in grey text and cool fonts.

Customers hated it, according to the evidence, as task success fell and time spent increased dramatically because of the confusing, meaningless content. The response from the marketing manager was essentially to fire the metrics and experience team. It was years later, after this manager left, that the damage began to get repaired.

Digital teams must not depend on NPS because they don’t have any real control over the NPS score; therefore, the NPS will have control over them. Digital teams must get its own metrics accepted at a senior management level, no matter how long that takes.

What are these metrics? Task success rates and time-on-task for the top tasks because these metrics are largely recession independent, mood independent, emotion independent. The customer can either transfer money between funds within 45 seconds or they cannot. They can either compare the essential differences between two products or they cannot.

So, it’s not about replacing the NPS, but rather about complementing it with task completion and task time metrics. Task-based metrics will much better reflect the value (or otherwise) that a digital team is delivering. If you can get management to consider task-based metrics, along with the NPS, then you’re onto a winning formula.

Net Promoter Score Considered Harmful (and What UX Professionals Can Do About It) by Jared M. Spool

How Harmful Is the Net Promoter Score? by Jeff Sauro

Content is service, service is content

“So we want to better organize our content,” the manager told me one day. “Get rid of all the old and irrelevant stuff and rewrite what’s important in more customer-centric language.” Everything sounded good so far. “We want to simplify the navigation and really improve the search.” This manager was making a lot of sense. And then he said, “And we’ll need to deal with services as well.”

“Services?” I was surprised.

He was surprised that I was surprised. “Yes, we have lots of services.”

“And those services have no content?” I asked. He paused and thought for a moment.

“Yes, I suppose, they have …” he was going to continue, but I interrupted him.

“And these services need to be found and understood?”

“Yes, yes,” he replied, a slight weariness in his voice.

This was a good manager who really wanted to do the right thing. But the organization had worn him down. Over time, the organization wears almost everyone down, and those who resist its relentless pressure to conform—to stay within their silo—are nearly always disposed of, demoted, or fired. The organization sucks the will to fight out of you, because you know that you cannot change it, that it is the organization that changes you, rips out your enthusiasm and grinds you down.

Except… except that sometimes organizations do change. Slowly, of course. Organizational evolution is much slower than career evolution. That’s why so many of us think nothing is happening, that all our efforts are in vain. But they are not. Every time we do the right thing, it matters. Every time we raise our voice against traditional organizational thinking, it matters. Every time we explain why the organization must change, it matters. Because now, this period, today, is a moment. It is a moment that does not come along very often. It is a moment when society is shifting, when the world is changing in profound ways. Customers are changing, but organizations are not. Organization must change or else be disposed of, demoted, fired, or made redundant.

“Let me tell you what’s happening here,” I said to the manager. “This thing you call ‘content’ is the stuff that you control. This content belongs to your writers. It belongs to the communications and marketing department. Isn’t that so?”

“Yes,” he replied, after several moments of thought.

“And the ‘services’ don’t belong to you. They’re not in you control. They’re probably in multiple organizational silos. In fact, there may be services that your organization provides that you’re not even aware of.”

“You’re probably right,” he said, smiling.

“And you’ve been told by your boss to ‘fix the content.’ And you’ve got a budget to ‘fix the content.’ Am I correct?

“Yeah, I suppose,” he replied.

“But you’re not going to fix the problem that your organization faces. You know that, don’t you? Your customers can’t find what they’re looking for and are coming across lots of replicative, out-of-date information. Even when they get to what they want, either the content is organization-centric or the process is clunky. So, if you want to fix the problem, first we must fix the organization. First rule of thumb is no more content, no more services. Just customer tasks. The organization must organize around the customers’ tasks.”

Now, that’s hard. But it’s not impossible.

Poor customer experience is not an accident

A friend of mine was waiting in a long queue in a small Irish town to get money out of a bank machine. It was a big queue. When he got inside he saw four machines, but only one of them allowed him to take money out. Three of them were exclusively for lodging money even though each machine has the capacity for lodgements and withdrawals. My friend noticed a bank employee passing by and asked him why the four machines didn’t allow withdrawals as well.

“We want to make it easy for people to lodge,” he said. “We want to make it easy for people to put money into the bank.”

This bank employee saw no problem with long queues of customers waiting to get money out. He didn’t apologise for the long delay. As far as he was concerned, the system was working as designed.

Another friend had developed an app to help people manage their money. He was asked to give a presentation to senior management at an Irish bank. The app was very clever, using gamification to help people save and get the best out of their money every month. At the end of the presentation, one of the senior managers just laughed. “This doesn’t help us,” he said. “This helps the customer. We make money by getting them to overspend, charging them fees, stuff like that.”

Have you heard about the “largest scam ever perpetrated on customers in Ireland”? It was run by all the Irish-based banks and involved forcing people onto higher interest mortgages. (Funny how all the banks managed to come up with the same scam at the same time.)

“Bank of Ireland has admitted to thousands of extra cases where customers were denied a good-value tracker mortgage,” Charlie Weston wrote for the Irish Independent in November 2017. The bank had “discovered” an additional 6,000 customers who they had scammed. Actually, they didn’t discover anything. They were forced, under duress, by the authorities to admit they scammed these customers.

But here’s the amazing thing: 2,000 of these customers were their own staff. Yes, their own staff. Obviously, not senior management staff. Poor senior management will now not be getting their bonuses because they have been caught—yet again—scamming their customers and their staff.

Every year or so, Irish banks are caught overcharging their customers. When they are caught, they claim it was a ‘mistake’ in the system. Funny how they never make the mistake of undercharging.

I have the misfortune of being a customer of Bank of Ireland. (The other Irish banks are as bad or worse.) Whenever, I was invited in for a visit, that was a big red light moment. All the predators would come out trying to give me ‘free’ advice and hard sell me their latest scam.

Whenever I ring their support, I typically get the message. “Due unusual call volumes you’re going to have to wait a very long time.” On average, I have to wait between 10 and 20 minutes to get help because their badly designed software isn’t working again.

The culture in so many traditional organizations is that managers see themselves as predators and they see the customers as prey. The problem is that customers are getting tired of being preyed on, and the Internet gives them tool to fight back like never before.

Too many managers

“More than two-thirds of employees around the world say they have to consult with more than one boss to get their jobs done,” The Wall Street Journal quoted a Gartner report in 2018. Nearly the same waste significant time waiting for guidance from senior leaders.

Buurtzorg, a Dutch home-care nursing organization, has no managers. In just 10 years, it has grown from 4 employees to 14,000. It has the highest client satisfaction in the Netherlands, along with the highest employee satisfaction. The costs it incurs are 67% lower than its Dutch peers because it cures its patients faster. Yes, it has no managers. Nor has it a planning, HR or marketing department.

The Buurtzorg model is becoming a global phenomenon. How is Buurtzorg so radical? Because its center is not some fancy headquarters; it has only 50 people at a modest HQ. Its center—its beating heart—is the interaction between its nurses and they people they help.

The golden rule at Buurtzorg is that nurses must spend at least 60% of their time with their patients. Nurses’ work is not measured by what they do but by how independently their patients can live. These metrics are radical because they measure use, not production. They measure outcomes, not inputs.

Historically, every aspect of a nurse’s job was measured, timed and monitored. If a lace came loose in a patient’s shoe, then, as they tied that lace, they were “delivering product 67” and they were expected to deliver that “product” in less than 45 seconds.

If a lace comes loose when a Buurtzorg nurse is with a patient, they may respond in the following manner: “Oh, John, this has happened a couple of times. How’s your eyesight now? Should we get it checked again? Have you been doing your yoga classes recently?”

With a Buurtzorg nurse, John will be less likely to trip and fall down the stairs, because the Buurtzorg nurse is focused on helping John live as independently as possible.

Buurtzorg believes in radical decentralization and active collaboration. There are no more than 15 people in any one multidisciplinary team. The technology is used to bring these teams together, share best practices, compare notes and help solve problems.

The Buurtzorg teams “do all the work required (i.e. nursing, planning, personal development, recruitment, hiring, firing, decision-making, etc.),” Pim de Morree writes. “Now, there are 1,000 self-managed teams, each enjoying huge amounts of autonomy. As one of the nurses said to us, “We feel more liberated, appreciated, and fully in control of how we can provide the best possible healthcare to our clients. Instead of having to work with lots of frustrating bureaucracy, we now do what we love to do—delivering care to patients.”

Buurtzorg represents one of the great potentials of web-based technology. Instead of using an increasingly jaded and counter-productive model involving monitoring and controlling of employees, the new model involves empowerment, independence, and collaboration among those closest to the customer.

Give smart people smart phones so that they can get as close as possible to the customer, because those who stay closest to the customer will be the ones delivering the most value as the digital economy matures.

Trust-based radical autonomy models can be a better alternative to command and control structures. By Pim de Morree

Making the customer part of the culture

A constant stream of unfiltered customer comments fill large screens placed in busy areas of the Fidelity International offices in London. Close by are white screens and markers and chairs and tables. Staff will regularly be found congregating around the screens, discussing what they are seeing from customers, coming up with plans for how they can improve the customer experience.

In a lot of organizations I deal with, digital is building walls between teams and customers. Even many UX professionals are busy with everything digital, and not busy with being with their customers. Support, the one group that has daily interaction with customers is either outsourced, or if it is part of the organization, is located in some cheap office space in a distant town, or else put down in the dungeon part of HQ. I have seen situations where weekly reports from Support containing tremendous customer insights are totally ignored by all parts of the organization, including the digital team, who are often too cool for their own good.

Alex Hamilton, Head of Digital Research, Analytics & Insight for Fidelity International, understood the need to bring the customer in, to make the customer part of the daily life and culture of the organization. At Fidelity, you can now ‘meet’ the customer as you’re going to have a coffee and realize that what they’re complaining about is something you can help fix.

“The most importance outcome of all this is that customers are now an intrinsic part of everyday conversations for multiple teams,” Alex explains. “Even teams that may be three steps removed from customers, they see and feel the customers’ perception. It’s about bringing the customer experience to life at all levels, letting it wash over our colleagues. At all levels our colleagues see it and it resonates with them at a human level.”

This is so crucial. Customers are humans too. Not just dry users, visitors or traffic. And because customers are now constantly communicating about their needs, they have much more of a place at the table. “It helps us to become much more focused on the things that really matter to customers,” Alex states. “And the things that matter to us might not matter at all to customers; they might be regulatory, but the customer doesn’t know or care. They just want their experiences to be good.”

“It’s helped teams do better things for customers. Now that the information on the customer experience has been democratized out, teams can make much more informed decisions.”

Knowing the customer better helps establish balanced priorities. “Having this ongoing sanity check makes teams realize things they do are having real impacts on customers. Let’s say you’ve got forty things to deliver but you’ve just descoped twenty of them to make a deadline, you now know what descoping these twenty will mean for the customer.”

Digital can be a window or a wall. How many windows are you creating into the world of your customers? Windows where you can see real lives, real experiences, real people trying to get stuff done as quickly as possible, so that they can be in time to collect their kids at school, or have time to watch their favorite series after a long hard day at work.

Digital contributing to climate crisis

According to “The Cost of Music,” a joint study penned by the University of Glasgow and the University of Oslo, greenhouse gases were recorded at 140-million kilograms in 1977 for music production activities (vinyl; plastic packaging). Moreover, they were at 136 million kilograms in 1988 and 157 million in 2000. In 2016, the age of streaming, greenhouse gases were estimated between 200- and 350-million kilograms in the U.S. alone.

“Storing and processing music online uses a tremendous amount of resources and energy,” Dr. Kyle Devine, an associate professor in music from the University of Oslo explained, “which has a high impact on the environment.”

Furthermore, I read an article a while ago, which said that the amount of energy consumed by a voice assistant while turning the lights off or on is significantly greater than the amount of energy required for a human to get up and turn the lights off or on.

Additionally, smartphones are particularly villains when it comes to energy waste. “In absolute values, emissions caused by smartphones will jump from 17 to 125 megatons of CO2 equivalent per year (Mt-CO2e/yr) in that time span, or a 730 per cent growth,” Lotfi Belkhir from McMaster University stated. Consequently, since much of this energy is used up in production–combined with the fact that smartphones have extreme obsolescence strategies seeking to establish a habit that you must change them every two years–it results in a willful and deliberate waste of energy.

Every text message, piece of content, photo, email, or chat contributes to the climate crisis. We need to consider our digital carbon footprints and seek out how we can reduce it because the digital world is a parasite on earth’s energy and resources. As designers, we should design in an environment friendly manner and be as digitally green as possible.

It’s one thing for a useful piece of information to consume energy through production, publication, and presentation costs. This information could potentially be carbon neutral by helping those who consume the information to consume less energy. A smart home, for example, could identify waste and reduce it.

Even with useful information, waste may be involved. “Based on the information provided by HTTP Archive, the average web page size in 2010 was 702kb compared to in 2016 which is 2232kb,” an article in KeyCdn stated. So why does that matter? Because these bloated pages need to be stored and transmitted. “The gigantic data centers that power the internet consume vast amounts of electricity and emit as much CO2 as the airline industry,” a Yale article stated.

Useless information is an absolute waste. How much useless information are we producing? Can we use less text or fewer images? Can we take unnecessary weight out of our images and code?  Ironically, useless information hurts the organization that produces it because it makes useful information harder to find and use. Further, most websites I deal with tend to become much more efficient after they delete 80% of their pages. Imagine how much energy we could save if we never created those pages in the first place?

The digital environment is much more wasteful than the physical environment since it is easy to create, copy, and publish digital things. Our oceans are full of plastic. Our websites are even more full of crap. We treat our digital environment even worse than our physical environment. It’s high time we changed.

Energy Hogs: Can World’s Huge Data Centers Be Made More Efficient?

How smartphones are heating up the planet

Music consumption has unintended economic and environmental costs