Graceful degradation is the term used by developers when it is required to provide an alternative version of a website’s functionality. This may be due to compatibility of a web browser or for security reasons. The main purpose is to make sure that every user can still complete the purpose of the website. Being a developer it always makes me feel good when I bring Blueleaf Creative's visuals to life, whether it be through the use of our in-house Content Management System (Command), our bespoke solutions (http://mto.lauraashley.com , http://made2order.next.co.uk ) or using the jQuery JavaScript Framework to bring some funky interactivity into our sites' lives.

On the other side of the spectrum it always makes me feel bad when I test a site in Internet Explorer 6. We all know and have to accept that people out there are still using the ancient (well, 8 years old) web browser but Internet Explorer 6 just doesn’t have the capabilities to display up to the minute technology like modern browsers, and it’s not a good use of a client's budget to spend days making it work. No matter how many CSS hacks, adjustments or filters on .pngs, it just doesn’t feel the same.

We find it much better to spend time and budget on profit generating services like email marketing, search engine optimisation or usability testing. As such we believe it is better to gracefully degrade.

An example of such is the site you are looking at now. For technical people out there we have introduced some CSS3 elements into the design (especially the @font-face, to introduce the new Blueleaf font). However unless the user is browsing using Firefox, Safari or Opera then it’s not going to look as it should. For all other browsers we had to degrade the system and use an older technique which required the use of sIFR (more bandwidth, more processor power) to display the Blueleaf font.

Another way to degrade a site is to include <noscript> element(s) in the site, as it’s not all about the browser. JavaScript blockers/plugins are becoming more common, with internet security at the top of the majority of people's minds so it’s Important to let people know that they need to allow JavaScript to get the full potential of the site they are looking at. A message at the top of the page notifying the user and alerting them to the how the site will be degraded would be useful.

At Blueleaf Digital we cover a wide spectrum based on the kind of websites we are building, which we believe gives a good coverage and according to the statistics we look at, covers well over 99% of all visitors.

1 Comment