And now…back to it has to work in all browsers

As we struggled with trying to make advanced designs work in Internet Explorer (6 & 7), I think those of us developing for the web (at least at my job) finally convinced the designers to embrace progressive enhancement. It was a beautiful thing.

Now that we have lots of cool things getting adopted by more and more browsers, you would think, “this is awesome, progressive enhancement for the win!” But instead of designing that way, with fallbacks, we have reverted to the “make it work the same everywhere” mindset and are designing advanced UI with no fallbacks. So, once again, we are requiring javascript to create UI. (I’m not talking about our Javascript technologies like React, I’m talking about needing to code things that can be done in CSS in some browsers but not all.)

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

No, no, no.

I think web designers have a responsibility here that many are failing. They see a design on a site in their modern browser (or that someone used javascript to create) so figure it can be done and they will design something similar. Number one, they should know how the web works and what it takes to code that UI, or number two, if they don’t, they should listen to the people coding up their designs and work with them on graceful degradation or come up with another design that will work the same way everywhere. No javascript required.

Period. End of story. Let’s keep the web fast and make our sites only get better as more browsers implement the good stuff.

PS I haven’t used them much, but I have also decided today that I am going to start recommending using polyfills that can eventually be dumped. (If we are going to be using javascript, anyway.) When I can’t win the progressive enhancement argument. Like, um, most of the time.

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