Steve Fenton

Why it is still important for a page to work without JavaScript

For some reason, people are starting to believe that we have hit a watershed in web development whereby we no longer need to worry about whether people have JavaScript or not. There is a growing assumption that ten years ago some people couldn’t run JavaScript, but now everybody can.

This is not the case.

Let’s imagine you put your page on the World Wide Web just to hit the UK market. If it only works with JavaScript enabled then you are closing your doors to 388,000 people in the UK. If I start a business and declare that there are 388,000 people of unknown demographics that I don’t want to do business with, I have to be insane right? This is what you are doing by writing pages that make JavaScript mandatory.

If you are targeting the US market, add another 5,484,224 people to that list.

Depending on the countries you want to operate within, users with no JavaScript support range from 1% to 20% of users. This doesn’t include mobile. When it comes to mobile, you don’t have to go back very far to find smart phones with limited JavaScript support – there are even some mobile browsers today that handle JavaScript in odd ways because they are optimising the page for speed via a proxy server. What we consider to be an ancient Windows Mobile 5 smart phone will eventually find its way from the Western market into an emerging market – so if you want your web pages to be truly world-wide, shouldn’t the people using these devices be able to view them?

There are no concrete findings for the users that make up this percentage of surfers who don’t have JavaScript. In some cases, they may be using a browser that doesn’t support JavaScript (maybe a really old browser, or a specialist browser such as a text-only browser) and other cases they will be using the latest browsers with JavaScript switched off. Whatever the case, they don’t have it – so unless you want to create web pages that only some people can visit you need to support these users.

Written by Steve Fenton on