A Future-Forward Web Strategy:Target People, Not Devices
Web professionals are always searching for innovative ways to connect with people. Today’s evolvingdevice landscape, shaped by the explosion of mobile computing, brings with it many new opportunities.However, delivering an optimized Web experience to all the various Internet-connected devices is provingto be a challenge.Over the past few years, demand has increased for device-specific Web experiences: a main site fordesktops, a mobile version for smartphones and, more recently, a version optimized for tablets. On thesurface, this approach seems to work. But there are consequences that should give one pause.Multiple, device-specific websites cost more to design, build, and maintain. Strategic decisions based ontoday’s evolving device landscape are outdated tomorrow. Inconsistent cross-device experiencesfrustrate users and distance them from the content and services they sought in the first place.The current rate of device fragmentation is only going to accelerate. The quantity and diversity of Web-enabled devices, many of which have yet to be imagined, will continue to skyrocket—as will the quantityand diversity of people who use them. As the medium evolves, existing processes and practices mustadapt in parallel to take advantage of these new opportunities. To stay ahead of the curve, to deliverbeautiful, usable, and memorable experiences, Web professionals are challenged to think beyond therigidity of fixed-width, device-specific Web pages.
Enter, Progressive Enhancement
Digital fragmentation is as old as the Internet itself. Historically, fragmentation has been addressed eitherthrough a lowest-common-denominator (LCD) approach or by creating targeted, device-specific solutionsfocused on narrow market segments. LCD solutions are durable and have tremendous reach but arerightfully accused of being dull and uninviting. Conversely, targeted solutions deliver a highly optimizedexperience but lack proper reach and are ill-suited to a quickly evolving digital landscape.Progressive enhancement is a “no compromise” alternative that strives to deliver the best possibleexperience to the widest possible audience. At its core, progressive enhancement is about scaling upfrom the minimum instead of scaling down from the maximum. It all starts with a strong core of universallyaccessible content. Layers of enhancements are applied methodically to tailor the experience and exploitthe unique capabilities of each viewing environment. Web experiences fashioned this way are SEO-friendly and interactive, rich, and accessible all at the same time.As an overarching strategy, progressive enhancement is ideally suited to projects and campaigns thatneed to be both accessible and compelling. Progressive enhancement is inclusive by nature, so it is thesuperior approach for targeting consumers in today’s shifting digital landscape. Using progressiveenhancement as a lens, teams can maximize reach across the entire spectrum of devices and contexts,dream up new ways to engage consumers, and still deliver the compelling Web experiences that clientsexpect.
Lead with Structured Content
Every Web page begins with a constant, something that is knowable and unchangeable. Theconstant acts as the foundation from which a page takes its shape. In print design, the constant