Why Firefox’s decision to make JavaScript mandatory is the tree hiding the forest

By July 3, 2013 No Comments

javascript the good part

We’ve heard this week that Firefox was going to make JavaScript mandatory. Understand they will remove the option to disable JavaScript from  Firefox 23.

Only 2% of internet users have JavaScript disabled today, so let’s be fair, it won’t change the face of the web.

But this is the tree hiding the forest.

As developers we’ve been hiding behing this 2% of deliberate JavaScript-less users to not act on our JavaScript-less experience. And if you consider your user as a mid-income person with laptop/desktop computer over wifi broadband, then it’s fine.

But today your users probably look more like the guy waiting for his train on a crappy 3G connection, or the guy on his laptop this time tethering over his crappier 3G/Edge connection. It could also be the guy on the other side of the planet, where super speed broadband hasn’t made it yet.

JavaScript is usually the last element that you will want to be loaded. So you should really make sure that the essential actions on the website you code are not dependent on JavaScript.

So what about Firefox’s decision to make it mandatory?

Well, this move doesn’t mean that all our users will have JavaScript enabled! It’s not because your users have the  ‘Allow JavaScript’ box ticked, that they have received your JavaScript yet.

Our role as web developer today is to make sure that our JavaScript-less experience is still tailored, even to the users with bad or slow internet connections.

Edit: Looking at the discussions that this opened on G+, I just to clarify that I’m not saying that we should not use JavaScript, but that we still need to take all users in consideration, even if they still haven’t received our nice Javascript files!

Photo credit: nyuhuhuu on Flickr