Sustainable web and graphic design: An introduction

Sustainable web and graphic design – has it ever crossed your mind? I think it’s ok to admit that up until now, the sustainability of your marketing collateral isn’t something you’ve thought much about, if at all. But with climate change and sustainability climbing further up the agenda, now might be a good time to start.

I’ve been an in-house designer for a number of years now, but it wasn’t until I started working in the industry almost five years ago that I even gave sustainability a second thought.

Beyond asking your staff to go ‘paperless’, adding that footer to your emails, and having a recycling bin, is there much that you can do? The answer is yes!

In this blog post, I endeavour to introduce you to the idea of sustainable web and graphic design, and give some top tips to get you started.

Change your approach – form, function and usability

For many of us, the thought process behind a new piece of collateral is simple. A client or a colleague says, “We have a new service to talk about, let’s create a brochure” or “we need a poster about the Christmas Party” and we go straight to design ideas.

Taking a ‘back-to-front’ approach that starts with visualising our end goal allows us to find a creative way to solve the problem.

Let’s use the example of the poster. Think creatively and ask questions: What is our end goal? Is a poster necessarily the right solution? How and where is the poster used? Is there another option that might be more effective?

If your goal is to inform staff about the Christmas Party, could your poster actually be a banner that is on your Intranet home page? Or a short internal email campaign? If you want to ensure something tangible is getting in front of your staff, could a postcard work?

Thinking about the answers and working with your agency or in-house designer, it might be clear that an alternative solution might have a more positive impact.

Once you have your perfect solution, it’s time to follow some top tips for design and production.

Top Tips to get you started

Sustainable web and graphic design

Design: Optimise!

  • Be size-ist – go for substance over size! By optimising your design and downsizing, you reduce the demand for paper.
  • Use less ink coverage in your designs. The more ink on a page, the more difficult it will be to recycle.
  • Reduce the bleed when possible. Keeping the bleed white where you can reduce the amount of waste.
  • Think about how you work. Do you print out your design drafts? Can you reduce that number? Or stop doing it altogether?

[clickToTweet tweet=”Be size-ist – go for substance over size! By optimising your design, you reduce the demand for paper” quote=”Be size-ist – go for substance over size! By optimising your design and downsizing, you reduce the demand for paper”]

Print: Know what to ask for

There will always be situations where printing is the correct solution, which is why your print supplier is also an important consideration. What should you be asking for to ensure that your projects are being printed as sustainably as possible?


  • FSC certified – find out more here
  • Recycled paper – at least 30% Post-consumer Waste (PCW) recycled fibre
  • Processed chlorine free (PCF)
  • Consider using a lighter weight paper
  • Use uncoated paper stock


  • Vegetable/plant-based
  • Low VOC levels

Other considerations:

  • Use a local printer
  • Choose a printer with a formal environmental and energy reduction policy
  • Consider digital or waterless printing
  • Choose PDF over print proofs
  • Reuse and recycle – have a strategy and make sure your printer has one too

Digital: There’s still things you can do

While printing contributes to pollution through the usage of materials, digital design contributes to climate change through the usage of electricity but there are still some things you can do to reduce your impact.

  • Streamline website image size to reduce download times (and you’ll also make your site faster, giving your visitors a better experience and giving you a welcome SEO boost from Google’s algorithms!)
  • Offer print-friendly web pages – that really lovely scrolling page might drop over to three or four pages if someone decides to print it
  • Have a strategy to offset the carbon used by your electronics

What does sustainable design look like at EVORA?

Since I joined EVORA in June, we have already made a start on improving the sustainability of our design process and there are things that we’re really excited to be doing in the year ahead.

  • Switching print suppliers. The first (and most simple) thing I have done. EVORA’s preferred printer is Seacourt ‘planet positive printing’, a Net Positive print company.
  • Identifying our standard paper stock. The next step is a switch in our paper stock for all work going forward. We will work with our supplier to identify a paper stock which is as sustainable as possible while maintaining a corporate image in keeping with our brand guidelines.
  • Being more creative with our designs. A revamp of our marketing materials for 2018 provides the ideal opportunity to be more innovative with our collateral – watch this space!
  • Optimising digital. EVORA’s new website, which launched recently, offers us much more control of the design of the site. We have already worked on image optimisation to reduce our site load speed and in the new year we will be working on print friendly versions of our most visited pages.

EVORA supplier Seacourt logoSeacourt ‘planet positive printing’ is a green printing company. Seacourt is known for its radical approach to protecting the environment, is one of the very first printing firms to achieve EMAS certification in 1999, an accreditation renowned for its high standards and stringent demands. The company has been recognised as ‘one of the top three leading environmental printers in the world’ by a worldwide printing association, and has gone onto win THREE coveted Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. In 2017, they were also awarded a European EMAS Award.

Introducing Our New Website and Our Vision, Mission, and Values

Welcome to our new website! Let’s explore what’s changed…

1. Simplification and ease of navigation

We’ve said a not-particularly-fond farewell to our drop-down menu of over 30 individual services! Instead, we now have three core landing pages:

On each of those pages, you can find an A-Z service directory on the main content tab, under the main ‘Why Us?’ sections.

Other content and pages that have been significantly improved include:

2. A neater, cleaner design

As you will see when you browse the site, we have made much better use of negative space (that’s right, negative space, not white space!). Negative space is the space between page elements. Creating more of it has the following benefits:

  • Easier on the eye – this helps with content legibility, helping you to more easily understand and digest what you’re reading.
  • Better interaction – you’re often in a hurry, we know that! Good use of negative space allows you to interact with the site more quickly and easily, with fewer distractions to slow you down. Using negative space allows us to draw attention to specific areas on the page. For example, have a look at how we’ve done this on the About Us page.
  • A more balanced feel – use of negative space helps to balance the design of the site, separating content elements for better accessibility and ease of use.
  • First impressions – as we know, these are everything! While functionality and user experience were the core purposes in the creation of our new site, it was also important to create a bit of wow-factor. Use of full-screen header images on pages like the Home, About Us, Contact Us, and Insights pages helps to create this, with powerful imagery and minimal text to draw the visitor in.

3. New content

In addition to improving the layout of our existing content, we have also created some brand-new pages, including:

Introducing Our Vision, Mission, and Values

We unveiled our new company Vision, Mission, and Values to the wider team back in July at the start of our summer party. We’ve been so busy since then, however, that we forgot to announce them to the wider world!

We have given our Vision, Mission, and Values pride of place here on our new About Us page, to show how important they are to us and the work that we deliver for our clients.

Our Vision is our ‘why’ – it’s our big picture of what we are trying to achieve.

Our Mission is our ‘how’ – by carrying out our Mission, we are supporting the realisation of our Vision.

Our Values represent not only what it means to work at EVORA and how we treat each other, e.g. with respect and inclusion, but they are also reflective of the approach we take to delivering projects for our clients, e.g. collaboratively, innovatively, and always with excellence.

Explore our Vision, Mission, and Values here, or in the posters below (which we have on the walls of our offices, thanks to Sam!).

EVORA Global Vision

EVORA Global Mission

EVORA Global Values

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.