Last Modified: 9/9/98

Graceful Degradability

A basic problem of Web page design is that there are many different kinds and versions of browsers out there. A design objective should be for your pages to "gracefully degrade," that is, remain functional even when viewed by older browsers or browsers not preferred by the page designer. As you try new features and designs, take time to try them out on a variety of browsers. Otherwise, some of your viewers may not benefit from your pages.


In the following example, a page was designed using the following methods:

Internet Explorer 4

Netscape 3

Netscape 3 does not understand style sheets, so all the design features specified in the style sheets disappear.

Netscape 2

Netscape 2 does not understand either the style sheets nor the the use of the BGCOLOR attribute in a table cell.

Overall, though, the page remains usable, so the page would be considered to "gracefully degrade." When pages fail to function on some browsers, they are said to "ungracefully degrade."