Why “Graceful Degradation” is Important for Web Design

Let’s face it, there will always be visitors who are not using the most advanced software. Therefore, you will always get a few visitors who will browse your website with outdated browsers. To make matters worse, these visitors frequently do not even realise that their entire browsing experience will be affected because of the old software that they are still using.

So, what does this have to do with the role of a web developer? Well, as web developer you still want to ensure that you deliver an adequate experience to these users while at the same time you want to create website designs that work great with today’s modern devices. This is where “graceful degradation” fits into the picture.

Related Article from Sydney Web Design Company: “9 Important Features of Every Good Web Design.”

Beginning with the Current Browsers

Website designs that incorporate graceful degradation concentrate on the modern browsers first. These websites will still work with older browsers, but when a visitor browses the website via an older browser, the website will not boast as many features. As a web designer, you might regard this as weird, but the visitors will not even be able to tell that the website that they are browsing does not look as nice. Also, remember that they will probably not compare the website to the nicer and more functional version that is compatible with modern browsers. At the end of the day, they are happy when the website does what they need it to do and nothing is broken.

So, in several ways, graceful degradation is similar to progressive enhancement. Though, the big difference between these two concepts is where you begin with your web design. Progressive enhancement instead starts with the lowest common denominator and then adds elements for newer browsers. It does not really matter if you opt for graceful degradation or progressive enhancement, because ultimately the web design will give a similar experience. The end goal remains the same – designing a website that works wonderfully with newer browsers while still delivering an adequate experience for older browsers.

Which Browser Versions Should Your Website Design Support?

Well, it varies from one website to the next. The website’s traffic analytics is a good place to start. When you study analytics, you will get a better picture of the types of browsers that are used to visit the website. So, if you pick up that quite a lot of people are accessing your website via certain older browsers, it is a good idea to support those browsers.

The opposite applies too. When you study your website’s traffic analytics and you spot that no visitors are viewing the website via an older browser version, you do not have to pay too much attention to supporting that browser completely. In short, your website’s traffic analytics will tell you which browser versions your website design needs to support.

As web design is always viewed via a web browser, there is always an interactive relationship between the software and the web design. When you apply these tips, designing for the wide range of different web browsers that can be used to access websites will be less of a challenge.

Though, regardless of how challenging it can be, avoid telling the visitors to download the latest browser. Visitors to your website will most likely just leave your website because of common user experience web design mistakes like this one.

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