2023 in review – How did it go for Sustainable UX/UI Design?

Show notes

How did it go for Sustainable UX/UI Design as well as my business Green the Web in 2023? Let's talk about highlights, successes, tops, flops and things we still need to work on!

I will talk mainly about Green Design, but will have a look into Accessibility, Diversity, Inclusion, Equality, Ethical Design, Mental health as well.

The question for yourself: What happened on your personal Sustainable Design journey this year? What would you like to celebrate?

Links in this episode

Love, Sandy


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Show transcript

It's time for a review. How did it go for sustainable UX UI design in 2023? I will be including a couple of tops and flops from my very own Green The Web review. So what has happened in my realm of this corner of the internet, as well as having a look into the broad industry of sustainable design, what has worked well, what might have been lacking, and all of those things. So let's get into that.

And welcome to the Green Web Podcast. It's a podcast about ecologically and socially sustainable design. I'm your host, Sandy Dähnert, a freelance UX, UI designer and researcher based in Cologne in Germany, and the mind behind Green the Web.

So in part one of this episode, I want to give you a short insight look into what has happened at Green the Web, my very own personal review that I did. What has happened, what did go well, what might have not gone according to the plan that I had. And it's all good. Like there's many good things happening during a year. There's a couple of things that don't go well or might not go to what you were thinking it would be, and that is fine. And I want to share a couple of those things with you, just to be transparent of how things worked out. So first of all, my biggest highlight of the year probably is the green UX UI design course that I launched in April and actually did two live cohorts already. There is like a self-study version of it that you can just do on your own, on your own time for yourself as well. The live cohort version, where you get all of the self-study materials, but you also have a couple of weeks together in a cohort with other like minded people and can ask all kinds of questions. And actually, the next one is starting in January. If you're interested in, check it out. I have the link in the description as well, and I've built the course with the help of a learning experience designer, which was very important for me and pivotal for me as well, because definitely the course changed a lot with her being in my team and helping me how to design it for better purpose and stuff, and it took me actually six months to create this course from the very beginning to where I launched it, and it was pretty much full time, and that was a toughie. I said I wanted to transparent. It was really. A lot of work that has gone into it to make it as impactful as it can be. And yes, there's a lot of imposter syndrome that was happening. Procrastination overwhelm. All of the things happened in the first half of this year, for sure. And also launching something for the first time is different than what I have done in the past. Before, I've mainly done freelance work and projects. That's really my comfort zone and I love doing those things as a designer and as a researcher. But launching a course was definitely next level. Um, it was fun as well and I was really enjoyable as well, but it also was really overwhelming and I'm constantly trying to improve the course, the whole setup, the training materials, the descriptions and links and all kinds of things. Uh, so it is still a lot of work, but I love doing it, especially when I do the live cohorts. It brings me so much more motivation to see the people I'm working with, and I can help out with this course. That was my vision to help people get a head start into green UX, UI design, in this case, to have it easier than I did when I started in 2018 to just say yes, I'm really into this topic. I want to go deep into it. Let's just do this. So that was my biggest highlight of my personal business year. And then I've done a couple of company and agency trainings, which were really fun. I fully updated my lightweight best practice library with categories and filters and more information to each best practice. If you click on it. And it's currently even more than 80 lightweight designs that are featured. If you have any lightweight best practices, then just send me the link to the website and I will have a look into it and see if I can incorporate into my best practice library and feature it there. That has been a lot of fun for me this year to actually build this up even more than I had before. I also did a couple of meetups and conferences and barcamps where we might have even met, and I love how more sessions are offered on those topics around sustainable design, and I can't wait to see even more coming up, because I feel like more conferences, more barcamps, and meetups are offering sessions and talks and workshops around sustainable design, which is amazing and fun fact in one barcamp I had technical issues with the sound system, which made a creepy sound for five minutes, and I guess that did cost me a couple of participants. So I'm sorry if you heard my, um, technical issues at that barcamp and thought, well, that's not my jam. Um, so things don't always go according to plan, but the session itself, once the sound system worked correctly, was really fun to do. Um, and doing those sessions is fulfilling as well as sometimes hard. There's beautiful discussions coming from those talks and sessions, some conversations, people with new mindsets, aha moments. And I have to be honest that there is still occasionally those people who say they don't believe that that has a future, that they admire. My hopefulness, which is somewhat in a way that I'm like too naive, some people just not being interested in it. And this is okay. And by far the minority that people like that come to sessions like mine, or also from other people that I know. Most people are super interested and inspired and give me so much motivation and inspiration back with their examples and questions, but I wanted to be transparent if this is a review. So yes, there are sometimes those people that say you shouldn't bother about that topic and that is okay. We can all have our different opinions on it to keep going in the review. This is actually the second season of the podcast that you are currently listening to. This is episode 31 or 32, which is amazing. I think we talked about images and checkouts and carbon footprints and sustainability infused user journey maps, design systems, WordPress, digital detox, misconceptions, exit points, challenges, and so many more topics that we covered or that I covered. And you also suggested some of the topics that I should talk about. And there is even more wonderful things happening with the podcast very soon in the next year. So subscribe and keep tuning in. Um, but this is a huge highlight for me to have this second season of the podcast, the second year of it, to be able to actually bring out episodes that bring you further along in your journey, give you some inspirational knowledge nuggets, and just some ideas of how you can implement more ecologically, but also socially sustainable design into your design practice. I also wrote two articles on medium. If you didn't check them out, I will link that in the description as well. One is about sustainable UX is more than reducing your website's footprint, and the other one is de-stress your UX for mental health, accessibility, and Mother Nature. And I really loved and enjoyed writing those two blog articles, and I was very different doing it for another platform than doing it on your own blog. And it got me into reading. Also, more on medium, connecting with more people, talking about any kind of sustainable design matter, which is brilliant. So I actually went more into articles on medium and discovering brilliant people who are publishing articles there. And then last but not least, for my very own green Web review, is that I optimized, like heavily optimized, my two free templates for non-human personas and sustainability infused user journey maps on Figma and Miro. So if you haven't seen them yet, I will link them below as well. Those are absolutely free templates that you can use for those two methods. And actually, there has been so many people who have at least copied, I cannot say whether you actually used it, but who marked those templates like saved them, bookmark them and copied them for your own trials? Um, and I would be super happy if you let me know how you use those methods, what you discovered with it, what non-human personas you're creating, how the sustainability infused user journey maps are coming along for you? Let me know via email or comment below the post on LinkedIn or Instagram of this episode. I'm really curious because I can only see how many people are looking at those templates and how many are copying it, and that seems quite a lot for me, and I would really, really love to hear about how you're working with them. So send me an email or a message. I'm really curious about it. So that was my personal review of this year of the grain, the web year. A couple of highlights, a couple of always little hiccups that are coming along. But yeah, the biggest highlight of this year for myself was the launch of the grain UX UI design course. So check it out if you don't know what I'm talking about or if you feel like, yeah, I would love to join that next cohort or even the self-study version, I created those two options. So you get to decide what is really helpful for you at the moment that you're in. And then let's move into part two of this podcast episode. Let's have a look into the industry of sustainable design. And I'm not sponsored, paid or affiliated in any kind of way with the people or books or whatever I'm sharing. It's just my review of new and exciting things that happened in 2023. When it comes to sustainable design, I talk mainly about green design, but we'll have also a look into accessibility, diversity, inclusion, equality, ethical design, mental health, all those social factors as well, because that is one of the things that luckily slowly started to happen. A discussion about the wording of sustainable design. Because sustainability isn't just the ecological part. Sustainability is a word that is so much broader and actually doesn't say anything about ecological or social things. It just means long term and it could be economically sustainable, it could be socially sustainable, ecologically sustainable, all kinds of other things sustainable. So we need to go way deeper into discussion of the wordings that we choose and what we talk about. And that luckily started to happen this year. And I would say we should continue with this discussion and actually come up with better synonyms or better wordings. This also goes into all of the names that are out there of life centered design, planet centric design, environment centered design, humanity centered design, and all of those other wordings and names that are out there talking about different kinds of frameworks and philosophies and methods. Let's talk about it. We need to stop coming up with new names. We need to solidify it and put it all together. Um, that's two of the main things that I discovered this year or have in my review of. Let's talk more about wordings. Other than that, the sustainable design industry got a huge push. There is more designers talking about it, more agencies and companies requesting it, more sessions on conferences and meetups and barcamps. As I said before, there is way more buzz in articles and podcasts in all kinds of different areas on social media and LinkedIn. And everywhere I see a lot more talk about sustainable design. There is more diverse discussions, which is one of the things that I love the most seeing during this year. We are going a lot deeper into various topics, which is super promising. We're not just talking about, hey, this is sustainable design, but we're talking about the deeper insights. It's a diversified conversation around sustainability, accessibility, inclusion, mental health, green design. There is so much more depth in it. Which is brilliant. And yes, it is still an add on. It's not a default thinking yet. Sustainable design is on a run and I see how it's spreading. I guess devastating climate change helps with that because that's the reason why we have to do it. But yes, it's still a an add on that comes up as an extra because we don't have it fully included in the educational system and universities or basic design trainings and stuff like that, but I am sure we will get to that. Maybe not next year, but we will pass the way to it. There is also more talk around non-human personas, which I found really interesting, I guess apples and gave it some extra push. If you haven't seen it, there is an apple ad around a conference room and nature coming in as a person and asking all these important business managers how all of their different departments are going. And it's a discussion with. The person nature um of how well they are doing it. Not it is not a non-human persona, but it's a visualization of personification of nature in this, um, realm. And it did push the conversation around environmental stakeholders, around non-human personas. I also do talk about non-human personas in my green UX, UI design course, and I have this free template that you can use on Miro and Figma, so you can easily go into what I'm talking about. Um, there is also Damien Lutz, who wrote a book about it, with some examples from different people, actually. Um, I'm in that book too, which is still so cool and amazing. Uh, it's still incredible to me to see my name in there. Um, talking about my personal examples of how I use non-human personas, and Damien, as well as the life centered design school, offer also courses on non-human personas. If you want to dive deeper into just that specific, um, topic. Then carbon calculators got a couple of updates regarding measurements and estimations and stats and gradings. This is really, really exciting news for all of us to be able to get deeper into specific analytics stuff. And luckily there is a lot of talk around how. Ecological design and green design isn't just about carbon calculations and data reduce design and lightweight design, it's part of it. It's important, but it's just one topic amongst many, many others, which is awesome. Then the Web Sustainability Guidelines were created as a community draft on W3C, which I did help a little in January, February, um, of consolidating a couple of things. It's guidelines on UX development, infrastructure and hosting and business strategies. I will also link that down below in the description. This is mostly around ecological sustainability because there's already accessibility guidelines, but I hope it will be diversified in the future. As I said, it's a community draft and it's just the start of something that will hopefully get very big and very helpful for everyone. Then a couple of new books came out, for example The Non-human Persona Guide by Damien Lutz. As I said before, there's the sustainable web design book in 20 Lessons by Michael Anderson. It's more a development, uh, book. So if you're a developer, this might be really helpful for you. And just recently, also sustainable graphic design book by Pia Weissenfeld. It's in German. It's really amazing and awesome to see more German books coming out about those topics as well. And hopefully, I guess a couple of other languages in your area as well to have. Yes, we need more like English language books and courses and trainings and resources and stuff, but also seeing that the sustainable design industry becomes so big in certain countries or language areas that even single books in those languages can exist, because you need to have enough of a crowd to actually publish those, in this case, books in those languages, which is really a promising fact. I think there is a couple of new services that also came out this year. I know, for example, of the Eddy website builder that is still in beta mode, but will come out hopefully eventually into a full published mode where we can all check it out of how to build lightweight websites. With this website builder, there is a services like Eco Send as a newsletter tool that didn't publish this year, but I feel like became a lot bigger this year. So there is new services that are coming out in realms of sustainable design that is more the ecological part. There is also a new law coming for Europe, at least regarding accessibility, which is the European Accessibility Act. So if we have a look into not just the ecological part, but also the social sustainability part, this is exciting news from 2025. Websites, online shops and other digital products need to follow a certain accessibility standard. So far, it only had to be followed by the public sector in Europe, but now it needs to be done for all websites, all online shops and digital products. Some exceptions are made for super small businesses, and it's giving accessibility a huge push and will bring so much more value to people and more knowledge into our design industry. So a big yeah, amazing. We need that for all kinds of different things for ethical design, more diverse design, mental health design, ecological design. If we have those different kinds of laws and acts, that is helping tremendously because then people have to do it. They have to care for this topic. And last but not least, I see so many big companies and teams starting to create task forces and internal communities around the topics of sustainable design, whether that's ecological or also socially sustainable design. I see that from Microsoft, from IBM, from Deloitte, from WordPress as a content management tool. There are so many different teams that bring that into companies and agencies to talk about those factors and deal with it within their products, their digital products. And that is amazing because it's not just the small businesses who care about sustainability, but actually the big ones who have an even greater impact because it's just so many. Any people who are using those services, and so many people involved in thinking differently, different mindsets, different skill sets around those big companies become a huge value. So that is my personal review of the sustainable design industry. There is so many more things we could talk about, but I want to keep this short and simple. And I have a question for you. What happened on your personal sustainable design journey this year? What would you like to celebrate? Sometimes it doesn't seem that much, but having a look back into where you were 12 months ago helps to see how far we've all come. It definitely was for me, because I started to forget about what has happened in January, in February and March. It seems so long ago and at the same time, like it always has been there. What has happened on your personal sustainable design journey this year? And what would you like to celebrate? If you want to share that, you can do that and just comment below the post on Instagram or LinkedIn. And we can all celebrate your wins, your successes, your personal stories all together. And then last but not least, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being part of this journey. Thank you for being part of the journey of Green the Web. You might have been there from the very first steps that I took in 2018, 2019. You might have been really new into this community. I just want to say thank you for thinking, even about sustainable design, of how you could implement it into your design practice, of how you're doing the things bringing new life into this industry. We need more designers thinking about it, creating books and articles and templates and courses and all of those things that are out there. I am so excited to see what 2024 will bring. We need all hands on deck. And yeah, I'm just so grateful for everyone of you and everyone else out there who cares about somewhat of ecological and social sustainable design.

So next week you will get another bonus meditation. If you're new around here a once in a while I do publish some bonus meditations and this will be in end of year reflection for yourself that you can take. You can journal next to it. You can write down the questions if you want, but you can also just listen, close your eyes and just think through those reflection questions that I'm, um, putting out there in next week's episode. And then subscribe to the Green, the Web podcast, where I'm talking about loads of ecologically and socially sustainable UX, UI design topics. This is season two, as I said of the podcast, so dive into the many awesome episodes that are already published. Rate the podcast, which is awesome to see that many of you are already. If you enjoyed this show, this would really mean a ton to me and visit me on Grindr, Web.com, or via Instagram or LinkedIn. Leave your comments. I'm happy to hear about your thoughts on today's episode, about your successes, your celebrations. Want to connect with you, read from you, and then see you in the next episode.

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