I have been working on a website which relies mainly on Ajax calls and jQuery to provide a rich user interface. Though the site looks just fine without JavaScript enabled. Some features like Login and Product Listing don't work because they are purely Ajax and jQuery based.

Should I optimize my website for users that don't have JavaScript enabled?

  • The use of JavaScript isn't such a black and white 'should I use it or not' question. What you actually do with it is more important. For instance; if you use JScript for displaying various menus and navigation then it's possible keyboard-only users won't be able to navigate the site. Therefore such uses of JavaScript is bad as you're stopping a (probably larger than you expect) percentage of users from interacting with the site.
    – JonW
    Sep 23, 2013 at 13:52
  • 2
    I have purposely disabled JavaScript on specific sites because what they were doing made the site unusable. I think the greater question should be why is your product listing inaccessible if JS is disabled?. If the answer is I don't want to have to write 2 different implementations (JS/non-JS), then you're probably doing it wrong. Bots/crawlers like Google are blind to content generated by JS.
    – cimmanon
    Sep 23, 2013 at 14:44
  • Dunno--do your users use JavaScript or not? Sep 26, 2013 at 13:47
  • 1

4 Answers 4


You know, I've read a lot of arguments on whether or not a site should allow for those who disable Javascript, and I've come to one conclusion: don't do it.

Javascript has become a standard of the web

I decided one day to disable Javascript and see if Facebook would function at all. It did not.

This is because Facebook is run on Javascript (for the most part) and functions with AJAX/jQuery and all these queues running simultaneously to allow a better and more effective experience on their application.

These days a lot of sites who maintain a highly interactive and highly immersive site rely on Javascript. Most people who do not have Javascript do it by choice. This is an important piece of information because this isn't an accessibility issue (if it were, that's a different story entirely).

Quite honestly, when it comes down to me building my applications I don't consider those people because I want to create a better seamless experience, and by hacking a half-baked one wont cut it anymore for me.

Consider this however

If your target user base is going to be turning off Javascript, then make a site without Javascript. It all comes down to the target user base. Don't do something where you'll know your users wont do it.

Final sum up

The number of users who are turning off Javascript is diminishing by the passing years, and my thoughts on that is because as technology keeps snow balling, the demand for a better experience keeps increasing. And having a page that constantly needs refreshing to update something wont cut it anymore for people. Just imagine your iPhone constantly going blank to load a new page or application... That would break the whole experience. In my honest opinion, I think you shouldn't do it, especially because you said your application heavily relies on Javascript and what it brings to the experience of your site.


The Statistics

Recent statistics shows that about 1.3% of web users have their Javascript turned off.

For the Guardian newspaper, an average of 2,200,000 visits a day translates to around 28,600 visitors without javascript, which I would worry about had I worked for the Guardian.

You may find in your own analytics that the percent is smaller (or possibly greater). The analytics will also give you the average visitors per day, so you can quickly work out how many visitors suffer from the lack of non-js support.

You may also find this a highly useful read.

Also notice, that there appears to be a growing consensus that Javascript increases accessibility, more than the lack of it damages it.

A Cost/Benefit Issue

Ultimately, this is a pure cost/benefit issue. If the amount of users without javascript visiting your site everyday will generate more revenue than the cost of non javascript development, you should surely do it. Otherwise, it's really up to the business stakeholders to make such decision.

The Responsive Caveat

One factor you should consider, though, is that most responsive frameworks make heavy use of javascript. Without javascript, there will be a need for adaptive design, which is much more costly in terms of development - nearly impractical nowadays with the multitude of screen sizes.

  • Please not that the article you reference 1.3% from is talking about screenreaders, not average we users. In 2014 2.4% have JavaScript disabled.
    – mixonic
    May 28, 2014 at 11:35
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    Just to clarify on the comment above, the original poster was correct with the 1.3% number. When talking about screenreaders the number was 1.6% but then revised up to 2.4%. If you continue reading in the article, it goes on to state that a further study conducted in 2013 found that the number was 1.1% with 0.9% actively disabling JS.
    – MSaforrian
    Oct 27, 2014 at 20:57
  • … Responsive design isn't impractical.
    – bjb568
    Jan 25, 2015 at 18:16
  • @bjb568 - Ishaki didn't say responsive design was impractical, they said adaptive design (so creating multiple layouts to target the different screen sizes) was impractical. The point being that if you're taking into account non javascript users, you'd need to use the impractical adaptive rather than responsive design
    – Sam Peacey
    May 29, 2015 at 7:14
  • @Sam Responsive design uses zero JavaScript. If by "adaptive design", you mean responding with a completely different site depending on the the type of device, I do understand that it's a waste of effort now when writing responsive CSS is easy and well-supported.
    – bjb568
    May 29, 2015 at 16:12

I suppose it depends on your target audience.

Are you targeting customers who has outdated browsers? Or will the outdated browser be one in a million hits?

If it's a trivial task for you ( which I highly doubt), with no real implications, then do it.

If you are serving users who have modern browser, then I wouldn't really bother with it. Today if you are on a severely outdated browser, you should expect that you can't use most websites.

  • 1
    It's not really about whether the browser can actually cater for JavaScript or not, it's about the user who is using the site itself and how the use of Script impacts them.
    – JonW
    Sep 23, 2013 at 14:00
  • No one uses outdated browsers that don't have javascript. As @JonW has duly noted, it's about the users and what impact their needs.
    – UXerUIer
    Sep 23, 2013 at 14:05
  • You are right about that, I came to that conclusion afterwards. But in a way the point still stands, Majed and Izhaki have already explained it in more detail, so I won't bother changing my answer. Sep 23, 2013 at 15:41

I'd suggest to ensure that your website/application is accessible and usable without JS.

You can then add additional functionality and convenience via JS.

The benefit is not only that people without JS can use your site but also that other accessibility problems and performance issues become much easier to solve when you don't necessarily rely on JS.

People often underestimate the number of users who can't run JS effectively (or at all). There's not only those who have it disabled but also people with:

  • slow devices that don't run JS smoothly enough to be usable
  • old browsers that fail to run modern JS things
  • assistive technologies that doesn't work well with JS-heavy apps
  • weird corporate security policies that prevent certain subsets of JS or APIs from working
  • slow connections where every KB hurts
  • … etc.

You have to decide wether to exclude those people or not. After all, the point of the web is to make information accessible to EVERYONE.

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