Experiences with impact


Images, Video and Visual Media

Images and video are one of the aspects of online content that have the highest carbon-cost over time.

What is it?

This is often one of the first eco-conscious considerations that makes it to the discussion table.

If content is King, then video is a white knight when it comes to extending that all important dwell-time that clients and internal stakeholders want to see at the end of a project.

In simple terms, images and video are one of the aspects of online content that have the highest carbon-cost over time.

It’s not a hard and fast guarantee that images or media will be the fulcrum between your website hitting its carbon budget goal, there are factors that contribute to this. Here are two examples:

Size/resolution: This isn’t necessarily the size the image is displayed at, sometimes very large images are hosted, just to be shrunk in users browsers.

Frames per second: Video content that is used in hero media, or that is used in a more decorative fashion, doesn’t necessarily need to be played at 60 frames per second. In fact, 24-30fps is what we’re used to seeing when we watch television, so it’s unlikely user’s will notice the drop.

Digital photo and video storage cost your business money.

Why should I care?

By regularly considering the way that you do or don’t optimise your website's media, you can avoid paying your hosting provider for unnecessary space.

Video is great for catching user's attention, and communicating big ideas that a wall of text couldn't do justice. But in the wrong hands it can cause an accessibility nightmare. If it feels like there isn't the resource to add the accessibility features needed, like subtitles, disabling autoplay, ensuring the video has an alternative for users with slower connection speeds etc. It might not be the time or place for it, before you've even considered its carbon cost.

Ellie Barrett, UX Designer

What can I do right now?

Start at home.

One study by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) found that the average UK adult takes almost 900 photos a year, taking an average of five pictures for every one they post online. Unwanted pictures alone contribute to over 355,000 tonnes of CO2 every year: the equivalent to the entire population of Chelmsford flying to Australia and back.

Bearing in mind that the average tree removes 500g of carbon from the atmosphere each year, it’s well worth spending an evening or two purging your digital photo storage.

Purge photos faster with Slidebox

Audit, audit again.

This doesn’t need to be a major overhaul or time-suck. Depending on your site’s size, a media audit can be a half-day's work that has a lot of impact. Schedule a regular media audit, where your teams take a look at the media your site is using and ask some simple questions. Are we displaying all of the media we are paying to host? Are we displaying the media at the size we are storing it, or could we compress it? Do our analytics evidence our video media having an impact that we couldn’t live without, or have we been over estimating it?

Arrange a usability audit


  1. Dirty Data / The Institute of Engineering and Technology, 2021
  2. What is Video Frame rate and Why Should You Care / Wave.Video

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