Green UX Writing: Merging User Delight with Environmental Care

Some thoughts on how UX copy can help shape greener digital experiences

10 min readJan 4, 2024


Photo by Ravi Kumar on Unsplash

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword. It’s a big deal that’s influencing the way we live and consume. You probably know that the internet isn’t sustainable, but did you know that the carbon footprint of our devices, the internet, and the systems running in the background contribute to about 4% of global greenhouse emissions? (A number that’s growing and not even taking into account AI’s footprint.)

It’s not only on users to make a difference — watch fewer shows on Netflix and post on social a bit less. We as designers have a responsibility too. When designing digital products that shape hundreds or millions of people’s behaviors and routines, we should think about how they affect our planet too. So, how can we make sure that our products are sustainable, or at least a little more so? One way, I believe, is through green UX writing practices. In this article, I’ll explore how by adopting green UX writing, designers and writers can reduce the carbon footprint of digital products while creating more delightful user experiences.

First, what exactly is UX writing?

UX writing is the practice of designing words in user interfaces, like websites and apps. By providing clear, concise, and user-friendly content, UX writers help users understand the interface and encourage them to take desired actions (more on those desired actions later). UX copy, or microcopy, plays a crucial role in ensuring that digital products are easy to navigate and engaging, ultimately leading to a better, more efficient user experience.

And green UX writing?

In preparation for this article, I spent quite some time researching “green UX writing”. But guess what? I couldn’t find a single dedicated article or proper definition of the topic. So, let’s try to sort this out.

Looks like there’s room for growth in the field.

Of course, the world of green UX writing, and green UX design overall, is vast and still evolving. For instance, sustainable UX writing extends into social equity, inclusion, and diversity. But for now, let’s focus on green UX writing, which merges environmental consciousness with digital design. I propose that, at its core, green UX writing aims to make digital products more eco-friendly by using content strategies and narratives that educate users and empower them to use a product or service more sustainably.

So, why the heck does it matter?

Digital products come with a carbon cost due to the energy used in each digital interaction. Poorly designed interfaces, including copy, waste both time and resources. That’s why green UX copy, including UX/UI design, can be a win-win (or even a win-win-win) for everyone involved: the environment, your users, and your business.

You could even argue that a lot of common UX design and writing principles are aimed at sustainability per se:

“Design and user experience are where the seeds of web sustainability are sown. Products and services that provide a streamlined yet enjoyable experience — putting the right things in front of users at precisely the moment needed and nothing more — are more efficient and greener. UX designers are in a unique position to create tools with sustainability at their heart by streamlining user workflows, minimizing information overload, and removing potential distractions that keep users from accomplishing tasks they set out to do.”

— Designing for Sustainability, Tim Frick, 2016

It starts by streamlining user journeys and designing content that’s easy to discover and understand. Improved usability allows people to achieve their goals faster, leading to a better user experience and a reduced carbon footprint per task. As consumers become increasingly eco-conscious (70% of consumers say sustainability is now more important to them than two years ago), a reduced environmental impact can lead to happier users, improve brand image, and consequently boost engagement and conversions. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to browse and feel good — or at least not guilty — about their impact on the planet?

A quick word on green UX overall

Green UX has its benefits — and it matters. To explore the advantages of digital sustainability and low-carbon web design for your business and learn how to measure your digital product’s impact, check out this article by MING Labs’ CCO Marc Seefelder.

Now, let’s explore 7 hands-on examples of green UX writing to help you get started and make a difference in your work.

How to write green UX copy

1. Focus on user needs

Green UX writing, just like any good UX writing, involves understanding user needs and preferences to provide meaningful, relevant content. This can minimize searches and offer a more straightforward user experience.

Let’s say you’re writing copy for a food delivery app. If a user typically orders vegetarian food, the content could highlight meat-free options or even give personalized recommendations based on their order history rather than bombarding them with generic promotions.

2. Simplify and clarify

Technical terms, jargon, and generic content can confuse and frustrate users. To make their journeys more seamless and reduce the time spent on devices, it’s crucial to use clear, concise, descriptive, and actionable language in your microcopy. Plus, it’ll make your content more inclusive and accessible.

For instance, instead of generic phrases like ‘Click here,’ use a descriptive CTA like ‘Start your free trial.’ By doing this, you help users understand exactly what will happen and enable them to complete their tasks faster, making it a more sustainable practice.

3. Rethink graphics and animations

Visual elements enhance aesthetics, communicate, engage users, and build brand identity to create meaningful, beautiful experiences. But they come at an environmental cost: more data, more emissions, simple. While reducing file sizes is essential, a bolder approach would be to ask:

Can we use copy to do the job and replace some of these visuals?

(No offense, dear designers!)

By the way, by reducing the data load in digital products, we’re not only championing environmental sustainability but also making websites more accessible to users with visual impairment or less powerful devices.

4. Educate and empower

People are more likely to choose sustainable solutions if they know they exist. So, tell them! Use copy to raise awareness and educate users about the environmental impact of their actions, empowering them to make greener choices.

Here’s where the concept of nudging comes in: Scientific studies show that it can be a powerful technique for promoting sustainable behavior in all kinds of areas like road safety, diet, or recycling. Essentially, nudging aims to help people make better decisions — for themselves and often for society as well. It’s not about taking away options but tweaking how choices are presented to make the better option easier and more appealing. Nudge tools include defaults, layout changes, reminders, and strategies like framing and social proof to guide people in the desired direction.

In our context, in-app notifications and tooltips are some of the digital design practices we can use to nudge users toward more sustainable choices. For example:

  • E-commerce companies can educate consumers about the environmental impact of different delivery options, like choosing pickup points instead of door-to-door delivery. This small piece of information can make a huge difference in user behavior.
  • By choosing to accept only essential cookies, users can actively reduce their carbon footprint while browsing websites. UX writers can promote this by crafting concise copy that explains how cookie choices impact energy consumption.
  • Google Maps lets users choose the most fuel-efficient route if it isn’t already the fastest one. According to Google, this feature could save over one million tons of carbon emissions per year by reducing fuel consumption.
Google Maps gives eco-friendly route suggestions, telling users how much fuel they can save and why.

5. Be mindful of tone

Making people feel good about using your product or service and promoting sustainable behavior in a positive, even fun, way is key to a delightful user experience. So, maintaining a friendly, upbeat tone in your green UX copy is crucial (and it’s usually a good idea in writing anyway). Instead of shaming users for unsustainable choices, emphasize the benefits of green options and frame your message positively.

For instance, a music app can offer a friendly tooltip for the less data-heavy download option, nudging users to “Save on carbon emissions and still enjoy top-quality audio.”

6. Reduce, reuse, recycle

The 3 Rs are a fundamental sustainability concept that you can translate into a key principle of green UX writing, and content creation overall. It can help minimize waste and streamline your overall content strategy.

For example, writers can reduce effort by focusing on writing relevant and to-the-point articles. Then marketers can reuse the article by turning it into, say, multiple social media posts. Then they can recycle that content by strategically reposting or including it in various promotional materials, such as email newsletters. This saves writers, editors, marketers, and readers time, resources — and carbon emissions. Plus, it ensures that the brand’s message is consistent across all touchpoints.

7. Avoid greenwashing

Greenwashing is when companies pretend to be eco-friendly in their messaging but don’t really walk the talk. Green UX and marketing copy can help businesses showcase their sustainability features, become more transparent, and build trust; for instance, by explaining why certain eco-friendly products may cost more. However, it’s essential to understand that green UX writing is a practice, not a magic fix. It can’t transform an unsustainable business model into a sustainable one.

But if you do have a sustainable business model, it’s a natural thing to also have a low-carbon website, right? At MING Labs, we had the opportunity to partner with Camping Lodge, a Swiss campground company deeply dedicated to sustainable tourism. When designing and developing their new website, we prioritized a low-carbon approach throuhout, ensuring that every decision aligned with their eco-friendly philosophy. (Read the full case study.)

Here’s what we did on the content side to ensure transparency and raise users’ awareness:

  • We showcased the sustainable features of different accommodation types.
  • We detailed Camping Lodge’s ethos on a dedicated subpage.
  • We displayed the website’s live carbon emissions through a carbon calculator in the footer.
The campground’s eco-friendly features are listed on the website so users can make informed decisions when booking, and share their own ideas.
The new Camping Lodge website cut CO2 emissions by 75% and features a live carbon calculator to increase users‘ awareness. Well, and a credit.

How can you measure the impact of green UX writing?

Green UX writing is a multi-dimensional topic, and trying to measure its results can be pretty complex. It’s not always easy to determine what truly makes a product or process ‘green’ and the metrics can vary across industries and contexts. That said, based on the principles we’ve discussed, here are 4 metrics that could be valuable to consider:

1. Time on task

Reducing task duration is a strong indicator of an efficient and eco-friendly user experience. It’s easy to measure using task trackers and observing user behavior. When we design clear and intuitive task flows, along with user-friendly UX copy, we reduce unnecessary clicks and confusion. As a result, users can complete their tasks quicker and with less energy waste, making their experience smoother and more sustainable.

2. Completion rate

Task success or completion rate can be another useful metric. It measures the percentage of users who complete a task successfully (though it doesn’t tell you why users fail). By simplifying user journeys and providing relevant, easy-to-understand content, you can increase completion rates and reduce the likelihood of errors that could lead to wasted resources.

3. User satisfaction

User satisfaction, while subjective, is another crucial metric, as effective green UX writing helps improve the overall user experience by reducing confusion and promoting eco-friendly practices. Improved satisfaction, in turn, positively impacts brand image and loyalty. Feedback tools such as surveys can help to measure the impact of green UX writing on user perception and experience.

4. Environmental impact

Many companies already keep an eye on their carbon footprint, water conservation, or diversity efforts. Why not take it a step further and see how green UX design and copy, like nudges, affect user choices and help the planet? For instance, a business could track carbon savings when users opt for greener products or services. This could factor in reduced data usage (like, for music downloads) or sustainable delivery options, showing companies their (improved) real-world environmental impact.

Wrapping up

Adopting green UX writing is a win-win-win for users, businesses, and the planet — which makes it a crucial step toward creating digital products that are both user-friendly and eco-friendly. But, let’s remember that green UX copy is just a piece of the puzzle. It’s not just about the words and design practices we use but also about having a business model that offers sustainable options to our users in the first place. Companies have the power to shape behaviors, so why not use it to encourage environmentally conscious actions?

As UX folks, I believe, we have a responsibility to think holistically. By integrating green UX copy and standards into our digital products and workflows, we can create meaningful and delightful experiences that are better for everything and everyone.

I’m hoping this article can give you a little nudge in your journey as a UX professional and that we’ll keep pushing for green UX writing together. For a greener digital future, one word at a time.

Written by Kristina Würz, UX Writer & Copywriter at MING Labs

Edited by Sindre Rydhard

Visuals by Miles Johnson

Special thanks to Marc Seefelder




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