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I wrote my first program in Z80A when I was 14 on a ZX Spectrum and ever since I have been hooked. I love writing code of any flavour as well as being passionate about the coding process. I have worked professionally in the software industry for the last 15 years using Microsoft Technologies, and I code at night in PHP, HTML, Javascript and CSS. Chris is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 34 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

No Script: Everybody Uses JavaScript These Days!

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Or do they.

Those of you in the Web development world will of course heard about Progressive Enhancement. If you are not familiar with the idea this is where your site progressively provides more advanced features depending on the functionality of the browser being used. For example some people use text readers, some people will have JavaScript turned off, well you get the idea.

The argument over progressive enhancement continues to rage both for and against the use of advanced JavaScript features to provide a more enhanced User eXperience. One argument goes that screen readers do not cope with JavaScript turned on. This is a myth, if you look at the latest results from the WebAim screen reader survey you can see that most users have JavaScript turned on and given the choice just under half the users of screen readers would use the text only version if it was available. This is not to say that accessibility is not an issue, just that JavaScript is a small part of a bigger picture.

There are also those people who have JavaScript turned off for one reason or another, and progressive enhancement can make your SEO better.

So how many people actually have JavaScript turned off? Well Yahoo did some number crunching back in 2010 and found that on average about 1.3% had JavaScript turned off. Even though it was four years ago, stats from my own site suggest that this number has not changed much, but, for arguments sake, let’s say it is 1%.

So if it’s 1% why bother putting effort into writing your website with progressive enhancement in mind? Well let me get my white board pen out and see if we can work through some figures.

If you have a site like mine which on average get’s about 1000 visitors a month then 1% is 10 visitors, over a year that’s 120 visitors so maybe you would be justified in thinking that designing for PE would be pointless. But if you are running an eCommerce site, and you are selling product for £20 a time, then do you really want to turn away £2400 of potential business? Not sure I would, and that is just with 1000 visitors a month.

Let’s up the figures. If we said that you had 10,000 visitors a month, that would be be potentially £24000 a year, how about 100,000 visitors a month, that 1% now turns into a huge £240,000 a year.

Now I know that there is little chance that you would convert all of this 1% of non JavaScript users into customers. But even with a conversion rate of 3% that is still £7200 per annum.

So for £7200 is it really worth ignoring the possible benefits of designing your site with progressive enhancement in mind?

Published at DZone with permission of Chris Odell, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


First Last replied on Fri, 2014/07/11 - 4:54am

 That's the problem with absolute numbers: They give wrong impressions.

Using your example:

100.000 visitors per month

1.200.000 visitors per year

36000 buyers (conversion rate 3%)

£720.000 in sales (£20 per item)

Lo and behold, your £7200 still are a 1% improvement over the not progressively enhanced version of your website. Taking into account that it won't be possible to make the necessary changes to your software for just £7200 (if you are a company), I'd suggest spending the effort on something more useful.

Chris Odell replied on Fri, 2014/07/11 - 5:35am in response to: First Last

You are of course correct and I am playing fast and loose with the numbers. For a corporate I agree that the 1% is probably not worth it from a purely economic viewpoint (not taking into account accessibility issues and SEO). However for a SOHO Developer I would suggest it may well be economicaly viable.

Shoeb Siddique replied on Sun, 2014/07/13 - 4:26pm

You are absolutely right, me too uses JavaScript. The reason behind it is JavaScript are easily available for most of the thing that's why we preferred to use it. My site pnr status has lots of JavaScript embedded.

Tony Brophy replied on Wed, 2014/07/16 - 9:22am

 Let's think about who turns off javascript on their browser. This person wants to be left alone. You cannot reach them by stealth :-) .

Chris Odell replied on Wed, 2014/07/16 - 11:20am in response to: Tony Brophy

I would say that we should still support those with JavaScript turned off. If you have a site or write code for a site that has millions of visitors a day you could be stopping tens of thousands of visitors a day from viewing the site. 

Jan Hendrik Scheufen replied on Wed, 2014/07/23 - 7:59am in response to: Tony Brophy

 100% agree. Nowadays, people who turn off JS do it deliberately and they have their reasons. I always have it turned off by default when visiting a site that I've not seen before. I would suggest investing into making the site look appealing and legit and if people like the product you're selling, they WILL enable JavaScript.

But this article was not purely about JavaScript on/off. It does make sense to code your site to respond to client's differing browser versions and capabilities and offer a better experience to clients with the latest technology.

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