The energy eating monster of data storage

Show notes

Data storage is an often forgotten energy eating monster.

How is it justified to hoard all of this data in tracking tools, event sign ups, outdated Social Media posts, database fill-ups?

Do you really need to store all of that data? Minimize the number of data points. Implement automatic and review driven data deletion. Plus, learn about a couple of other ideas for a reduced energy eating monster.

Mentioned links

👉 Cookie-less tracking tools

👉 Green UX/UI Design course is open for enrollment.

Love, Sandy


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Show transcript

Welcome, everyone to today's episode of the Green the Web podcast. It's a podcast about ecologically as well as socially sustainable design. And I'm your host as always Sandy Dähnert, a UX UI designer myself.

And in today's episode I want to talk about an often forgotten topic in general and energy eating Monster, which is data storage. And we can do so many things and really creative and cool things Also about data storage. It might sound boring but it is truly not and it's very, very important to think about it in your design information, architecture, all of those things that we are doing in our daily lives. And some of the examples that I've experienced in the past is, for example, I've been designing a business to business application for bike leasing and this application was hoarding data of bike retailers, companies who are leasing those bikes, the bike leasing users like the employees. In the end, the leasing contracts, the leasing documents, PDFs getting sent back and forth. There was so much data in just this single one application that I know many, many other applications, especially business applications have as well. I've had once a company approaching me who had more than 1000 block entries and they didn't want to declutter when I said, Well, 1000 block entries, that's a lot. And some of them were like ten years old. No one really reading them anymore and 1000 block entries, that is way too much we can all agree on, I guess. And I did want to declutter all of them and had a hard time convincing them to actually get rid at least of a couple of them. And it's just data waste. It's data waste laying around without anyone noticing, without anyone reading and for sure everyone being confused and overwhelmed with the sheer amount of block entries in this case. Another example that I had recently was a newsletter subscription of a company with requesting the full name of the person the salutation, which was binary, so only the choice of woman and man. The company name the amount of employees working at the company, the years of experience in the job as well as the job description. All of those things were asked for a newsletter subscription. But why? Why would one need all of this information for a newsletter? I absolutely get it. We love to collect all kinds of data from users and from people who are approaching us, who are interested in us to get more out of. What industries are they in? What companies are they working for? Who are they? But especially salutation and especially binary salutation, just skip that because no one needs to know your gender or how you feel as a gender in a newsletter, subscription or event sign up or anything like that. No one needs to know. It does not matter. No one needs to know your full name, your company name, your years of experience in your job. It's not necessary. So just skip that. And then other things that I often see is lately I've even come across three different tracking tools on our website, especially huge tracking tools like Google Analytics and no one actually taking a peek at the data that it's collecting. So why should we implement all of those tracking tools who have been implemented by different. Departments in the company. So every department had a different tracking tool and had different analytics around it and then not even in-depth analytics, maybe one person every couple of months taking a little look at it. That's not enough to actually have three different tracking tools on a website and definitely not enough to have huge tracking tools on there. And two other things that I'm bothered by a lot is social media. So for example, Instagram posts of brands that are older than two years, No one no one ever will see those posts and scrolls down to two years ago. Postings and stories and things that have been hosted on the Instagram page. No one will ever see those posts ever again. The same with YouTube videos that are two years old or older or never have been watched by anyone or very, very few people. Why do we keep all of this data on our platforms, applications, websites, online shops? How is it justified to hoard all of this data? And I know data is a currency. It has so much value or we gave it so much value. But how is it justified to be unethical to be very energy consuming just with hoarding this data? So think for a second about one of your design projects and what data is stored there. And then I want to go into different questions with you in this episode. The first one is do you really need to store that data that you're collecting? Do you really need it? Is it a must have? Is it a nice to have? Is it even frustrating or harmful data that you're collecting? Does it prevent people from actually subscribing to your newsletter, signing up for your event or doing something in your application? Do you really need it? And I know I asked this question over and over again in different topics, but it is the most important question Do you need it? And then from there, let's have a look at how can you minimize the number of data points? How can you actually declutter what you're looking for, what you're looking at, what you're requesting from users, what users are uploading to your application platform online shop whatsoever. So really thinking about how can I minimize the number of data points to the absolute bare essentials, what is really valuable? So no user gets overwhelmed. But also me neither as an employee in this company or as a freelancer for this client. How can I? Reduce stress all over and one of the main tricks is implementing automatic and review driven data deletion. So especially for data that is coming in or is uploaded onto a platform or application that there is some way of automatic data deletion as well as reviews of what data could be deleted in the future. And there is a couple of cool things going on out there. For example, you might know WeTransfer it's a service where you can transfer data through like especially big data and huge files and stuff like that and you have a free default upload data limit that is I think like two gigabytes or something and your data per default gets deleted after one week. You can extend this time which costs money then, but the default one is just one week and after this one week there is an automatic data deletion and we transfer. It does not host your data anymore so you have a limited time frame which is usually absolutely enough and is brilliant to keep the data storage for Wii transfer at a minimum. Same goes for, for example, Auphonic. It's a service that you can optimize your audio with and it gives you a time frame of 21 days of audio hosting and seven days of video hosting. And after those 21 days or seven days your files will get deleted. So you upload your audio or video files. You have your post-production and your optimization of it. And then 21 days later the audio gets deleted. Seven days later your video gets deleted because video is just much more data intensive. So they even have a hierarchy in those different data heavy components. The same goes for user data. For example, users who haven't read your newsletter in months who used your service once or locked into your application. But that has been months ago sent them an email whether they still want to keep their account or a newsletter subscription and if they don't respond, then delete it. Automatically delete user documents that are older than three years if legally possible and there is no legal requirements to keep them and also integrate reminders to review user uploaded data from years ago. This could be a reminder for yourself. It could be a reminder for the user. But really think about the amount of data that might be uploaded to your application online shop or website or is also downloaded from your application or website. And how can you implement automatic and review driven data deletion in there? And then let's discuss a couple of smaller pieces we can do for reducing data storage and for reducing the energy eating monster off it. For example, I had a client who had a huge report. It was some kind of sustainability report with I don't remember, maybe like 60 pages of the report as a PDF and think about offering short and full length documents, have a page for the document ready with a small summary on the page itself so that the user already knows what this document is about and whether it's actually useful for the user or not. If it's useful for the user, then offer a short summary document which is just a couple of pages with the executive summary and people have an easy entrance into it but don't need the full document and then also offer the full length PDF or document in what shape or form you're having but offer those three different steps. The summary on the website, the short form document as well as the full length document. Whatever a person needs, he or she will get it and it doesn't need to all be just the full length 60 page document for someone to download and then read the first page and nothing else. That's absolutely data waste and can be easily reduced. A second part is of documents send them as a link instead of an email attachment. I see that so often as in invoices that are sent via email attachments of legal documents that are sent as email, attachments of reports, of workbooks, of guidebooks, of all of those things. And usually they are just laying around in the email inbox, might get downloaded onto the desktop or smartphone, but usually just lay around in the email inbox Why we don't need that. So we can send easily just a link and then the user when he or she actually needs to download this, clicks on the link and then downloads the attachment or the document. Very, very simple. You can also enable download size options. So for example for image platforms or illustration platforms or video platforms, they have usually the image or illustration or video uploaded in different sizes. So in full HD, in HD, in smaller resolutions, the images in different formats and sizes and offer an enabled download size options, especially the default option to be the lowest one the absolute data minimum reduced one and if someone wants to have the image of 3000 pixels in the best format possible and quality possible, then they have to click a little bit more and then actually select this choice. But whenever there is something that can be downloaded by the user, ensure that it's the best optimized and reduced format possible and they have options to choose from with the default option to be the smallest one. And then two other topics I want to mention here is one that we talked about before already is reduce your tracking tools. First of all, you don't need any tracking tools. I know everyone's like, What? But you actually don't need tracking tools. If you have a very small blog or a very small website, then you don't need to have a tracking tool. Second of all, you definitely don't need the big ones like Google Analytics. You can use smaller ones and there is also a cookie-less tracking tools out there. I'm using one which is with Cabin and I have a couple of different cookie-less tracking tools that are really, really modern and cool and can go in depth as well Listed on my tool list on my website. I've linked that one down below so you can have a look at the different variations and options that are out there for cookie-less tracking and definitely use only one tracking solution and. See how you can reduce those different department analytics tools into just one single solution everyone can easily work with. And then the last topic I want to get into is also the clutter, the back end of your website, your online shop, your application because we tend to collect all kinds of things and have images and videos and illustrations and all kinds of data laying around in the back end that no one uses anymore and is just outdated but no one ever deletes it. So just delete it and declutter your own server from all of this outdated data over and over again. Maybe that's every half a year, maybe every year, maybe every month you have a checkup of actually decluttering your back end as well. And yes, there are many, many other examples we can go into of the energy eating monster of data storage and how to reduce it. But those are some that I wanted to share to inspire you to think about how can you actually reduce that? Do you really need to store all of the data that you're collecting? How can you minimize it? How can you implement automatic and review driven data deletion, offering short and full length documents, sending documents as links instead of email attachments, enabling download size options, reducing tracking and decluttering your back end data. All of those things are at least small or even big steps towards less energy eating web applications, websites, online shops and other digital products.

So let me know via Instagram, via LinkedIn, via email what you get out of this episode of today and also let me know what are your ideas and what you've been implementing in your application website, digital product in whatever kind to reduce the energy eating monster of data storage. The topic of data storage is also included in the Green UX UI design course, which is now open for enrollment. The first live cohort has just started. You can enroll in the self-study course or sign up for the next live cohort waitlist. The link is down below in the description and other than that I just want to say thank you so much for being part of this beautiful community. I'm so grateful for it and very honored that you're spending this time with me. So subscribe to the podcast, share this episode with friends and colleagues. Give it a five star rating or also a review on Apple Podcasts. I love to read about what you're thinking about it. Follow on Instagram at Green, the Web or on LinkedIn at Green. The Web. As I said, you can also check out the Green UX UI design course on my website. Green The there is all kinds of free resources on the website as well. Spread the joy and be creative with ecologically sustainable and also socially sustainable design. And let me know what you got out of this episode. I'm really, really keen on making this a two way conversation and then see you in the next episode.

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