Google Embraces Progressive Enhancement

In case you missed it, yesterday Pierre Far updated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. In his post, Pierre lays out their case for progressive enhancement:

Just like modern browsers, our rendering engine might not support all of the technologies a page uses. Make sure your web design adheres to the principles of progressive enhancement as this helps our systems (and a wider range of browsers) see usable content and basic functionality when certain web design features are not yet supported.

As someone who has been beating the drum for progressive enhancement for over a decade, this sort of support from such an influential company gets me a little teary-eyed.

It’s nice to see Steve Champeon’s philosophy for web design finally beginning to gain traction outside of the ivory tower of Web standards. It is a fantastic philosophy that has been guiding our work since Steve unveiled it. And it has paid some handsome dividends for both us and our clients.

If you need help wrapping your head around progressive enhancement, you should read my introductory series for A List Apart. If you want more, there’s also my book on progressive enhancement: Adaptive Web Design. And if you need help getting your team up to speed, I’m more than happy to hop on a plane and come to you. Just drop me a line. I have helped many companies embrace this philosophy and have seen it improve their productivity, increase their reach by supporting more devices, and improve the accessibility of their products. Oh… and progressive enhancement has saved our clients real money and reduced their time to market.

I don’t tend to be a “magic pill” kind of believer, but I can honestly say that embracing progressive enhancement can radically change your business for the better. And I’m glad to see Google agrees with me.

My (still-relevant) 2008 series on Progressive Enhancement

  1. Understanding Progressive Enhancement
  2. Progressive Enhancement with CSS
  3. Progressive Enhancement with JavaScript