Review: Designing With Progressive Enhancement

February 18, 2011 Mark Jenkins

A Community Member Book Review — 4 stars

Designing With Progressive EnhancementA review by Mark Jenkins of Designing With Progressive Enhancement

Deliver a useful, attractive and well-designed web site experience to every visitor. This is the goal for web designers/developers, and yet they are continuously frustrated in their attempts to reach it. The challenges for web designers have never been greater, with the proliferation of web-enabled devices, from PCs to gaming consoles to mobile phones to TV-connected boxes, all containing a wide variety of browsers and abilities to render web sites.

The authors of Designing with Progressive Enhancement, believe they've found a solution to the above ever-increasing dilemma: use the lowest technology that a browser supports, test for browser support of more advanced technology, and then if the more advanced technology is available, use it, but always have a lower-technology solution coded. This way a site never fails, no matter what browser is used to view it.

The lowest technology available for all browsers is Plain Old Semantic HTML (POSH). And particularly with the evolving HTML5 standard, there's a surprising amount of features that a web designer can build into a site with POSH.

The book gradually builds the authors' case for their testing-based POSH approach over several chapters, but just stick with it for the payoff. Once they've layed-out their approach, they provide browser tests and POSH code for just about every web page element a designer might desire to use, from pulldown menus and lists to animated graphics and much more. Naive web designers assume they need CSS and JavaScript to implement many of these web page elements, but the examples provide often-surprising ways to implement web pages with just POSH.

Summary: The POSH examples in this book provide an amazing display of what can be accomplished without CSS, JavaScript, Flash or any of the newer web site development technologies. Even if you don't agree with their progressive enhancement approach to web design, the markup examples, alone, make this book worth having.

Annotated review posted on Amazon.