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CSS3 Is Here! Selling Progressive Enhancement

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Expert web designer/developer Jason Cranford Teague shows you how wanting the next greatest thing for your website isn’t necessarily learning about HTML 5 but understanding progressive enhancement, a new web philosophy that will allow you to push the boundaries of web design, while not excluding large segments of your potential audience.

CSS3 and HTML5 are the next generation of standards we’ll be using to create web pages. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly common to hear my clients saying, “I want an HTML5 website,” replacing “I want a Web 2.0 website.” Using the term “HTML5” has evolved from meaning just the web standards technology to indicating that you want cutting-edge web design and functionality.

However, many clients still cling to the notion that their websites look and act exactly the same in old-school browsers (like IE6) as they do in new browsers. To create these cutting-edge designs then, you will have to educate your clients to understand progressive enhancement, a new web philosophy that will allow us to push the boundaries of web design, while not excluding large segments of our potential audience.

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

To create modern web designs takes much more than just HTML5; it takes CSS3 and some, what has become know as “fancy” JavaScript:

    HTML5 = HTML5 + CSS3 + “Fancy” JavaScript

However, many web designers and developers are reluctant to start using new CSS3 styles because they worry that they don’t work on all browsers equally. While this is true, that shouldn’t keep you from using them as a part of your design, as long as you take a few simple precautions to ensure that, although it may not look exactly the same in older browsers, your design display all of the content and provide the basic functionality.

Progressive enhancement applies a simple principle to web designs:

    Web designs do not have to look exactly the same on every browser and every version, but should take full advantage of each browser’s capabilities to deliver the best possible experience

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