serving green screenshot introduction

The digital information that we ravenously produce and consume seems to be free. According to one source, we are posting 2.5 million images to Instagram every minute. I am no exception; my Twitter consumption has recently peaked for a reason that I will not dispel and that has absolutely nothing to do with the U.S. election.

But, unfortunately, the digital information that we love and share is not free. Yes, there are those pesky privacy issues — the targeted (or “sponsored”) ads on Twitter and websites are sometimes ridiculously relevant to me. But, to my mind, there is an even greater and more long-term cost than the loss of individual privacy.

Data is Powered Mostly by Fossil Fuels

Every time we click, upload a file or download an app, we make use of huge data centres that are mostly powered by dirty energy. According to one journal, the Internet will soon amount to nearly 1 billion tons of CO2 annually or approximately 10% of global electricity usage.

Some projections show that the information and communications sector of our economy is in fact expected to double by 2020! All of that data coming up and down the pipes could be powered by renewable energy if we so desired.

Websites and Applications Are Also at Fault

As well, there are approximately 100 million websites online today, accounting for an equivalent of almost 10% of  the electricity used in the United States each year. Many, if not most, of these sites are powered by big, bloated and inefficient code and other assets like video and photographs. In fact, the average web page has now ballooned to 2.5 MB, which is 20 times bigger than a page 13 years ago.

If we continue to power our websites, applications, digital tools, archives, and data collections with non-renewable energy, we, the users and makers of the web, are contributing to the warming of the planet by our very taps, clicks, and swipes.

The Serving.Green Project

A few weeks ago, we launched a new website called Serving Green that hopes to demonstrate, in accessible and user-friendly terms, the importance of green data centers to our global and connected economies and the role that websites and applications play in warming our climate. Our goals were as follows:

  1. To educate the public about the need for hosting websites and applications efficiently with renewable energy
  2. To provide a user-friendly, memorable, and straightforward way for visitors to understand the issues around a sustainable web
  3. To offer a small and useful set of resources that can be easily and readily updated
  4. To create a beautiful and engaging web experience on a modest page size budget

The concept of “serving” not only refers to serving data but serving visitors and users of our digital products. While I think we come close to meeting these goals, this website will be used as an ongoing educational tool to help us start and continue a conversation about how our digital economy can also be part of a green economy.

Standing on Green Shoulders

This project was a collaboration between us at Manoverboard and the ground-breaking work already done around building a sustainable web by Tim Frick of Mightybytes and John Haugen of Third Partners. Tim has literally written the book on designing for sustainability, which was just released by O’Reilly; the book is superb. John is the author of a paper called Green Web Hosting that we commissioned a few years back. Over the course of a year, Tim, John and I spoke nearly every week, discussing how we can get the topic of serving green in front of a wider audience. This site is one very prominent outcome of those conversations.

But this site is actually part of a much larger conversation happening among numerous designers and developers, sustainability professionals, business owners (especially B Corps), and large nonprofit organizations. You’ll see our shout-outs on the Serving Green credits page, but I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the following people and organizations for their inspiration: Greenpeace’s Click Clean Scorecard, James Christie and Jen Briselli and their online Sustainable UX conference (happening again in February 2017), Green Web FoundationChris Adams, Bernard Yu of Green AmericaMike Gifford and the following B Corps: Canvas Host,  OpenConceptGreen House DataDOJO4Closed Loop Advisors, and B the Change Media.

More About a Sustainable Web

Please visit the Serving Green site and let us know your thoughts, comments and questions. We plan on keeping this site alive with updated ideas, stats, and solutions over the next few years.

The next few weeks are chockablock with events about web usability and sustainability.

As part of World Usability Day 2016, which is focused on sustainable/green user experience in 2016, I will be speaking on the topic of a sustainable web with Tim Frick and other panel members. This will be a free online event on Thursday, November 10, 2016. You can register on Eventbrite.

As well, I will be offering a free webinar called Sustainable Web Strategy on Wednesday, November 30, 2016. My focus will be on what I call the “bonsai web”, a new model for planning, tending, and developing online organizational communications with a new set of sustainability practices in mind. Spaces are limited. I hope you’ll join me then.


bonsai tree

Corporate websites are all but dead. Big, bloated, bloviating and boring, the vast majority of sites are already extinct. Most corporate sites today feature reams of outdated copy, meaningless stock images and cluttered content that either repels visitors or endangers their trust. These sites look fussy and frilly with their overly complicated navigation, their illegible text, and their ambiguous copy.

Meanwhile, the web is growing astronomically. Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook alone store more than 1.2 million terabytes of information—information that can be found on the third or thirtieth page of a typical search. And consumers are showing their loyalty to companies that produce the most timely and salacious stories online, making our corporate sites look dull and lifeless.

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Every dream needs a voice to share it.

Every mission-driven company needs a website to share their vision and dream online.

You build websites and want to support these amazing companies.

You want to do it with a small company where you can use your well-rounded development and UI/UX experience to inform how you code.

You want to know that your employer cares about balancing career with a fulfilling life that has time for friends and family.

We want to give you that opportunity.


Manoverboard is a B Corporation helping purpose-driven companies and organizations motivate their audiences with beautiful, lasting design. We deliver bold websites, enduring corporate identities, and the communications strategies that support both.

Front End Developer

Developers are the main engine of our business and crucial to our success.

Your first goal will be building amazing websites to wow our customers and help them achieve their missions. You’ll develop custom WordPress themes from scratch, assist with planning new projects, and write blog posts to share best practices about website design and development.

Your second goal will be to take us to a new level of development. You’ll do this by developing technical shorthand and best practices so that we can put more time into fulfilling our clients’ mission.

Your last goal, but just as important as the rest, is to become a fully integrated member of the team and contribute to growing the business.

Why Work Here?

Team – You love working with other people. You’re fine working on your own, but you know you’re going to grow faster and go further when you’re with other people.

Variety – Code is great, but you want a sniff at the big picture stuff that separates good coding from great. You want to dig into the user experience and the strategy and art of user interface design.

Mission – You’re passionate about creating a sustainable economy, environment, and opportunities for all people.

Who We’re Looking For

Here are big ones:

  • Degree or diploma in graphic design, digital media design or communications – you could also bypass the education with the right experience
  • Experience developing great websites
  • Experience using HTML5 and CSS3 and coding best practices
  • Experience developing custom WordPress themes
  • Ability to implement and assess WordPress plug-ins, including ACF
  • Experience working with JavaScript libraries, including jQuery
  • Experience with graphic design programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch
  • Experience writing content for websites
  • Interest or experience in social enterprise and/or non-profits

You’ll get extra points for:

  • Background in graphic design practices, principles and theory
  • Good understanding of SEO best practices
  • Knowledge of CSS extension languages like LESS and SASS
  • Ability to deploy and implement code versioning tools, such as Git
  • Understanding of modern server environments

The Details

You’ll be working in our modern, rough wood and exposed brick office with the rest of our welcoming team. We’ve got free parking and we’re super close to a bus line. If you decide to take public transit, we’ll even reimburse you for 50% of the cost. This full-time position could be part-time for the right person. On top of your salary, we offer excellent benefits, flexible work hours, three weeks holidays to start, paid parental leave, and a paid day off every year for volunteering.

How to Apply

If you believe that you’re a good fit, email your cover letter, resume, a list of recent sites that you developed to Andrew Boardman at Please indicate in the subject line “Web Developer”.

We value diversity and inclusion and encourage all qualified people to apply.

We will review applications as they are received and look forward to hearing from you.

Certified B Corp: Best for the World 2016

The work of a designer, developer and writer is never really done. There can always be one more tweak, one more little adjustment, one more phone call with a client, and just one more eentsy second guess. Creating a successful identity, interface, or story almost always takes more time than we anticipate. It’s part of the business of building things anew every single day.

The designers, developers and communicators at Manoverboard sweat this small stuff all of the time—during the day, over lunch and coffee, and in the middle of the night. Any given design, interface, or strategy is only done when we know it’s ready to rock and roll.

It’s why I’m so incredibly honoured to announce that we received the 2016 Best for the World award by B Lab today in the Workers category. The award means that Manoverboard scored in the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations in the world—about 1,800 of them—on the B Impact Assessment.

To be more exact, here is what B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies businesses and helps them “be the change” says:

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onlnie news collage

In February 2016, I gave a presentation for Sustainable UX: Digital Design vs. Climate Change, a conference about how content strategists, designers, developers, managers and site owners are addressing climate change. Thirteen different presenters spoke about their work, which included open source methodologies, creating a green content management system, and building sustainable behaviours and frameworks within teams.

I wrote a blog post called Online News is the Canary in the Coal Mine about my presentation. The talk focused the massive growth of online news and how news sites, because of code, feature and content bloat, are contributing to carbon emissions. Since then, I had the opportunity to connect with a number of other presenters and received great feedback about the talk, which you can watch here on YouTube.

I also had the presentation professionally transcribed so that folks who don’t like video, can’t see video, or have any accessibility issues, can access the content. YouTube has the ability to automatically transcribe content through closed captioning but I would much rather have it available in a blog post.

Here it is.

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