Javascript Disabled: Is That Really A Common Problem?

Creating websites that perform and present content correctly and uniformly across various browsers and operating systems is one the primary responsibilities of any self-respecting web designer. And to any web-dude or dudette that doesn’t make that end-game a primary focus of their process I say, shame on you. There, consider yourself rebuked. I can only assume that now you now feel the bitter cloud of humiliation hovering over your “IE only” code.

You see, it is my obsession to seek out (and hopefully become literate with) the latest and greatest tricks, tools and clever code collections of script snippets that can transform a website from functional to fancy. In some cases its practical but more often than not its bells, whistles, and eye-candy. Along those lines, I’ve recently discovered the joys and relative ease of JQuery scripts. I feel no shame in admitting that I’m not skilled enough to create a script myself. But I have likewise found that with the proliferation of “ready-made” scripts, there’s little reason to tackle that skill in the near future. I mean, these things are replicating like rabbits.

In the course of finding these scripts and kicking their tires, I often find myself reading blog entries and help/support sections that are found in tandem to the scripting code. While JQuery may be relatively easy to execute, it’s not without hiccups and a little hand holding via a support forum can go a long way. And it is within these forums that I find the inevitable entry or gripe that reads “…what about users that have Javascript disabled?” That question (or some variable of it) is posed with military-grade regularity.

OK so here’s the gripe

When the “disabled Javascript” question is stumbled upon, I can’t help but scratch my head an wonder what all the fuss is about? I mean some uber-goober has just used Notepad and effectively turned water into wine and the only comment some nerd can muster is one regarding a rarely disabled browser feature. Are you just looking for something…anything…to lob back over and into the developer’s lap? This mad genius that has just freely given you the ability to include some ridiculously cool way to juice up your gallery of kitty-cat images or a sweet little effect for mouse-overs. You should be naming a firstborn child after them, not whining about the five percent or often LESS of users that have Javascript disabled and thus “can’t use it”

The five percent or less total represents my informal results based on some simple Google Analytics reporting. More often than not, it was well under five percent.

Here’s where I might get into trouble with the usability fascists that lurk among us mere mortals. Militant coders have their place and I’m not dismissing the importance of getting one’s ducks lined up to ensure a uniform presentation. I stand by the words that I began this entry with. However, I live in a world where a 95% chance of success is pretty danged acceptable! In most circles, we’d be willing to bet the pink slip on those odds. What is with persistent paranoia over somehow offending this five percent of web users? This five percent that insists on disabling a tool that enhances the overall web browsing experience? Is it a fear of hackers? Is the security issue truly that prolific? I dare estimate that even LESS than five percent of typical users even knows HOW to disable Javascript on their browsers…it just came that way.

I stand worry-free along-side the 95%…there truly is power in numbers. And for the record, I make regular use of the script on my personal page–but in not mission critical areas (that I know of).

And so the logical final words on this topic are these:
What’s worse—a simple forum question about disabled Javascript options?
Or—burning over 600 words rambling on about how annoying the question is?

By | 2016-11-09T09:30:49+00:00 April 5th, 2009|Technical|4 Comments

About the Author:

Mike began tinkering with websites in the days of the Macintosh Performa 6300 as a way to wind-down after a swing shift gig. His very first site was a public bathroom review website (you're welcome, YELP!)