Progressive enhancement is a web development strategy that involves creating multiple versions of a website or web application to accommodate the varying capacities of user devices.
In essence, progressive enhancement allows users of low-performance devices to access the basic content or functionalities of websites or web apps, while people with better devices can enjoy rich content and access the full set of features of such digital assets.
Key principles of progressive enhancement
- Core functionality first. Developers start by building the core features and content that can be accessed by all users, ensuring a baseline level of usability for everyone.
- Enhancements based on capabilities. Advanced features, styles, and interactions are displayed in accordance with the user’s device or browser capabilities. This allows users with more advanced consumer electronics to experience additional enhancements.
- Graceful degradation. If a user’s device or browser lacks support for certain advanced features, the website or web app gracefully degrades, ensuring that the core functionality remains intact.
- Performance optimization. By starting with a minimal set of features and adding enhancements progressively, websites can be optimized for performance. Users on slower networks or less powerful devices can still access the core content without being burdened by unnecessary features or undue page-loading delays.
How progressive enhancements help digital assets
Progressive enhancement ensures as large a body of users or site visitors as possible, regardless of any changes in network speed or the device themselves. Maintaining a large user pool is crucial for any digital asset as it increases the likelihood of higher conversation rates that ultimately lead to a website’s or web app’s financial sustainability.
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