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No Script: Everybody Uses JavaScript These Days!

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?

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