- For design in general to be sustainable, it must have the least amount of maintenance as possible or at least the least effort of maintenance required. It should also require the least amount of resources and least amount of energy. In a sense, sustainability is built into the general idea of good design already. Good design is design that responds to all or as many valid constraints as possible within a design problem. Efficiency is almost always a design constraint.
- For web design to be sustainable, in the context of a client and hired designer, the client must be able to use and change the website on their own once the contract with the web designer is done. This means that the interface must be easy to work with — simple enough that a non-professional can understand it, but complex enough that the website is engaging for its intended audience. In the context of a website and its audience, the website’s user interface should not change too often. Therefore, at the beginning of the design process for creating a website, the identity of the website must be thought out in the context for however long a business/company/individual would want a website to be active. An interesting example of web design sustainability can be referred to in the next section.
An example of sustainable web design is Facebook’s concept of the “newsfeed.” When Facebook first came out, the front page would be a user’s profile, but then introduced the “Newsfeed” in 2006, which had greatly influenced the design interface and identity of Facebook from then on. Over the years, anyone who has used Facebook for an extended amount of time, especially at least over the past 5 years, could understand the frustration when Facebook would redesign the front page interface. Sometimes the changes would be so dramatic that in order to use Facebook, it would be like being a new user all over again.
Ideally, it would be great to have such a great design in the beginning that it would never have to change, but the way an audience interacts with websites, or objects in general, evolves over time, and more efficient ways to make a website easier to use are experimented with. At least the concept of the Newsfeed is sustainable — a page that automatically refreshes with content from “friends’” facebook profiles when their profiles are updated. The interface is what changes, and although not ideal, the updates are necessary in order to continue to create a more efficient and therefore sustainable website.