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Strong opinions, weakly held

Is it OK to require JavaScript?

WebMonkey today asks whether or not it’s OK for Web sites to require JavaScript.

My opinion on this question has changed a lot over the past year or two. Not long ago, I would have said that it’s never to require JavaScript, but I don’t feel that way any more. I think that if your site centers around publishing, you should certainly make all of your content available to users who have disabled JavaScript, but if you provide more application-like functionality, requiring JavaScript for certain features is OK.

As Simon Willison notes, you should always use unobtrusive JavaScript, and progressive enhancement is my recommended approach, generally speaking.

In the end, how you employ JavaScript is a business decision. Developers have to weigh the costs of providing workarounds for people who don’t have JavaScript with the potential loss of revenue from not providing them.

I think the more interesting question is whether or not it makes sense, as a user, to disable JavaScript. Last February I tried an experiment where I disabled JavaScript by default and only turned it back on for specific sites. Disabling JavaScript eliminates an entire class of obnoxious advertisements, and can really speed up the browsing experiment on many Web sites. I found that in many cases, leaving out the JavaScript made Web sites better, not worse. I haven’t used NoScript in awhile, but I still think that employing it is a good idea for most people.

1 Comment

  1. funny you mention this, check this out about McCain’s site and javascript:

    http://searchengineland.com/080611-142500.php

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