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    I keep seeing on this forum and elsewhere that a good rule of thumb when designing a site is to have a fallback for people with Javascript disabled. Anytime anyone presents any design that makes use of Javascript, there’s always somebody who inevitably chimes in "don’t forget about people with Javascript disabled!"

    My question is this – who are all these apparent legions of people that don’t have Javascript enabled?? Most stats that I can find say that 95%+ of web users have Javascript turned on. In addition, IE6 and 7, Firefox 2 and 3, and Safari 2 and 3 account for about 98% of web traffic combined – all modern browsers that support Javascript and (I believe) ship with it turned on.

    This tells me that the <5% of people who have Javascript disabled are using either:

    1. A modern browser with JS intentionally turned off
    2. An old browser
    3. A specialized browser (WebTV, cell phone, etc.)

    In case 1, the user has decided for themselves that they don’t want to see JS-based content (for whatever personal reason), and in cases 2 and 3, the user wouldn’t be seeing your site correctly anyway, JS or not – those browsers don’t support the latest standards.

    Is it worth the time to craft JS-free fallbacks for our sites just for this specific group of people? Again, going by the stats, there are more people with screen resolutions of 800 x 600 than there are people with JS disabled, yet everyone designs their site for 1024 x 768 nowadays – even major corporations (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.).


    Again it comes down to target audience. If your users won’t be using mobile devices, or using their work’s / school’s computer you can ignore old browsers and lack of JavaScript. You will also suffer from poorer SEO because spider bots don’t have JavaScript enabled either!

    I prefer to use JavaScript to enhance usability and design, not dictate or create it.


    Personally I don’t think you should require JS to perform main functions on a web application, but I do understand the nicety and some improvement on usability issues it can do.

    Here’s what mostly can’t use or don’t support* JS:

    • Mobile devices[/*:m]
    • Screen readers for people with disabilities[/*:m]
    • Text-browsers[/*:m]
    • Users with NoScript-plugin installed[/*:m][/list:u]

      (* JAWS, for instance, supports javascript to a degree. An AJAX-powered webpage does create problems for JAWS’ rendering/reading)


    Also just think carefully before making main content only viewable through javascript (if there’s some kind of XML-load or what have you), as Google writes in their Webmaster Guidelines:

    "Google Webmaster Guidelines" wrote:
    Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would.

    If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.

    Else, I’d say go for it. Make it fancy, and impress (future) clients if you can ;)

    Also, if you don’t have Lynx or don’t want it, I recommend checking out the Yellowpipe Lynx Viewer-plugin for Firefox


    A good example on JS-reliability, is when you need it to perform search. Search is a function which should never require anything else than the standard HTML setup (input-elements aso..) to perform its actual function. JavaScript could of course help out with usability, like auto-completion (sometimes this works not as intended) or showing similar searches.

    I’ve used sites where the submit-button looks like this:


    This fails and does not degrade gracefully. The page I got it from didn’t even include a <noscript>!

    "Edwin" wrote:
    In stat of using inline javascript like in that example I suggest to use jquery and keep the javascript out of your xhtml!

    Or use Adobe Spry to keep javascript out of your xhtml. POKEMON@@@


    is there any way to detect if a user has javascript disabled and then load an extra css file?

    "robotobi" wrote:
    is there any way to detect if a user has javascript disabled and then load an extra css file?

    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="bla.css" />

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