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May 17, 2007

No JavaScript, No Google Navigation

If you disable JavaScript in your browser, you'll notice that the recently updated doesn't have too many navigational links anymore. That's because the menu from the top left corner is written entirely in JavaScript.

Google, that usually writes pages with graceful degradation in mind and builds custom interfaces that don't require JavaScript (Google Maps, Gmail), forgot about the browsers that don't support JavaScript (text browsers, some mobile browsers) and the users that have JavaScript turned off for its biggest assets: the homepage and the search results pages.

Here's a quote from Google's guidelines for webmasters: "Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site." That means there's another problem: will be more difficult to crawl.


  1. I do not pine for the Google of old. Rather, I wait patiently for its replacement. By demonstrating to so many, how easily an important web service can be disabled, Google only hastens its own demise. Maybe I will short some Googily stock.

  2. Short Google stock at your own risk.

  3. That means there's another problem: will be more difficult to crawl. - Good one Alex !

  4. The new google interface is fairly new still.

    It is amazing that they decided to use javascript and not gracefully degrade the site. Google's home page is a rather important thing for them to overlook something like that.

    The Google programmers are human however.

    Maybe they'll start detecting the browser visitors are using and display a compatible version based on the browser.

  5. In my opinion there's no logical reason to turn Javascript off anyways

  6. Picasa Web Albums is even worse - I noticed that the search results are now delivered by a JSON API call, so no JavaScript means no search results at all.

    Details on the API

    This is new for search results, but its also used for other pages as well, so even the mainstream action of displaying an album fails to show any images without JavaScript.

  7. Degrading gracefully is the sign of a thoughtful designer who wants to
    reach the largest possible audience and cares about the users. Especially if he designs one of the most popular sites in the world.

  8. Another annoyance is that you can't middle or right click the links in the 'More' drop down menu to open them in a new tab. I find it very surprising that Google didn't take non-javascript browsers into account...

  9. I don't know. If you don't have Javascript, then its pretty much "degraded" down to the same search page it has always been, isn't it? Maybe thats intensional.

  10. This breaks the Firefox start page. ex: while the clasic way works fine at other locals like

  11. So people with non-javascript enabled browsers see Google as it used to be.
    What's the problem with that?

  12. "Google as it used to be" had navigation links for image search, news, Google Maps, a list of all their services etc.

  13. I agree that designers should take all users into consideration and construct designs that degrade gracefully. Google However is in the position to ignore the rules we have to adhere too.

    I am sure that this same discussion was held @ Google, This is their homepage and I'm sure they made this decision consciously.

    I can understand, and I might add slightly impressed, that Google would launch this. Perhaps Google is forcing, gently I might add, its users to upgrade and progress forward so that they can continue to pursue the advanced technology that web 2.0 can offer...?

  14. This is OK, web changes, not supporting JavaScript is simply ignoring progress...

    Oh, for the complain about spiders:

    I have new for you: spiders may evolve! Strange as it may sound, it is possible!!

  15. disabling javascript on your browser is like disabling your battery to your laptop...why would anyone do that.

  16. Disabling JavaScript makes sense because it rules out a whole class of potentially dangerous programming bugs.

    You should only enable JavaScript for sites you trust to never deliver malicious code. The NoScript Firefox extensions allows you to do this in a user friendly way.

  17. disabling javascript on your browser is like disabling your battery to your laptop...why would anyone do that.

    A: Because there's a wall outlet available, which is more reliable and less costly than the battery that empties after a certain time, and dies after a certain number of recharges.

    The wall outlet in this case is markup: html, xml, etc.

    The most important thing is the text being "marked up"
    i.e. the content.

    A user can get that content just fine without js and even without markup.

    Read the Google Guide again... when the bot/spider comes round, it's not looking for brilliant uses of javascript or markup tags, it's looking for CONTENT.

  18. In over two years, no one here has realised that the reason those links are written in Javascript is because the things that they link to will not work without Javascript? The "degradation" is actually flawless.

    But for the record, I hate Javascript and look forward to it going the same way as marquee tags, animated GIFs and Flash websites.


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