Progressive Enhancement Just Works

In a recent blog post, Manuel Matuzović offered a great case study covering how he built Front-end Bookmarks. In the course of developing it, Manuel found that following the progressive enhancement philosophy in his development made it easy to support older/less feature rich browsers and devices:

To my surprise, I only had to reduce some paddings and font sizes to make it look nice. I didn’t have to change much because I follow the Progressive Enhancement principle when I build websites.

We saw this same benefit back in 2013. When adding support for 1,400 new mobile browser/device combos to a project built for iOS and Android, we exceeded even our own expectations and were able to cut the timeline and budget in half!

It’s worth noting that this accomplishment had nothing to do with our bug-squashing prowess or our speed… progressive enhancement just works. We were dealing with some heinous old browsers too—think Blackberry 4 and OpenWave—and they really didn’t present much of a challenge. So, for a very modest sum, we were able to quickly roll out additional support for over 1000 devices (and probably thousands more that didn’t make the list) and that created a huge opportunity for our client to attract and retain new customers.

I’ve been working on the web for a long time and few development philosophies have proven as timeless and resilient as progressive enhancement.