Chris Butterworth
Strategist, Designer, Developer

Going Lighter

Over the years, I've redesigned and rebuilt my website numerous times on numerous platforms. Each platform has different requirements and because of that different energy requirements for the services needed and therefore different carbon footprints.

My usual go to platform is WordPress; it's quick, easy to work with, extensible and very flexible. Unfortunately this can be a burden as well, with it struggling to handle large databases (over 10k records) without extreme caching, being slightly overkill for very small sites and it's plugins can add a huge amount of bloat to the front end - there's a lot of plugins that still require jQuery! So while it's great for medium scale projects there are other options.

I've realised that WordPress isn't always necessary - my own website is usually quite small, quite low traffic and not very much content (I'm working on this) so I've looked at a couple of different platforms and here are some of the outcomes.

Kirby

Kirby is a flat file CMS which is very simple to use and work with and highly recommended for smaller websites. There is no database by default with all the content being saved to files using Markdown. I've used it on numerous occasions - such as r-elharrak.co.uk, pollytootal.com and the previous iteration of my own website.

The only real requirement here is PHP7.2+ as well as either nginx or apache.

Jigsaw + Netlify

This is a new one for me but since looking at the energy usage and demand on servers doing something as simple as executing a PHP file, I've looked into static site generators.

Using Laravel on a few occasions, I've gotten to grips with its Blade templating engine which made learning Jigsaw very easy.

Being able to compile content from Markdown or YAML is brilliant along with its integration with Laravel Mix to compile and minify assets for you makes it an awesome dev experience.

Recently hooked this up to Netlify (which I'm using now) and it's a great experience - may need to revisit this if used on slightly larger projects with multiple users but for a personal website I think it works great.

Measuring performance

The key item to check with comparing these are load when requesting pages as well as the TTFB which you can see in DevTools that I'll show below

WP: 78ms TTFB

Kirby: 7ms TTFB

Jigsaw: 2ms TTFB

Given more time I'd run tests on the load impact of each but I think the TTFB alone shows how much faster and energy efficient using different platforms are.

Looking forward to learning more about Netlify and how to implement it to give the most flexibility and to carry on having an impact on energy usage and carbon emissions.

NB - I've booked some time to run some experiments to measure the CPU and memory usage of each platform; I'll update this with the results as soon as I can.