Progressive Enhancement Delivers Best Customer Experience Across Browsers

Every marketer knows that mobile is important in 2016. With always-on internet access, the relentless pace of change demands a web development philosophy that doesn’t just use agile processes, but is fundamentally grounded in principles of speed and change. Enter progressive enhancement

Keeping Up With Constant Change

To keep up with the pace of changing customer expectations, brands and retailers must adopt a development architecture of progressive enhancementThe World Wide Web Consortium describes it as this:

Starting with a baseline of usable functionality, then increasing the richness of the user experience step-by-step by testing for support for enhancements before applying them.

What does this mean in layman’s terms? Progressive enhancement starts with basic functionality for everyone, but provides an enhanced version to anyone with a more sophisticated browser or additional bandwidth. Graceful degradation, on the other hand, is the opposite development paradigm – it starts with the most advanced browsers and then removes functionality for people not using those browsers.

The modus operandi of graceful degradation is preventing catastrophic failure. Progressive enhancement is focused on providing the best basic experience everywhere with constant extension for continuous change and improvement.

An example of this is payments: if Google’s PaymentRequest API or Apple Pay is supported by a shopper’s browser, it should be used to provide higher converting, app-style single click checkout. If it isn’t available, the standard checkout flow should be used.

Speed is the New Agile

Progressive enhancement focuses on the entire customer experience by continually looking forward to embrace improvements vs looking backward to degrade them.

Data across industries is beginning to demonstrate that in the digital age, even established enterprises are closer to their death bed than many previously thought. Whether that end is a sale below a previous valuation or actual bankruptcy and shuttering doors, executives at Blackberry, Sports Authority, and now Yahoo can testify that the grim reaper is only a few poorly executed quarters away.

Progressive enhancement delivers speed in a world where the ability to execute rapidly is a competitive edge. Brands that can’t pivot seriously risk being left behind – brands who find a way to take action will remain evergreen, enjoying the glow of customer satisfaction and loyalty.