Keeping popup blockers in mind

Written by Adrian Holovaty on July 22, 2002

The Wall Street Journal has a story about the fierce "arms race" between advertisers and companies that make popup-ad-blocking software, where "each side is working feverishly to outmaneuver the other."

A problem, the article notes, is that popup-blocking software, like Pop-Up Stopper, often has negative side-effects. Mainly, if you disable JavaScript popup ad windows, you'll also disable any other site functionality that relies on JavaScript popups and does not provide an alternate, non-JavaScript link. This problem affects not only users of popup-blocking software, but those who've turned off JavaScript manually, as well. A few examples of inaccessible content at time of this writing:

With JavaScript turned off, a user can't access any of those features. And news sites usually provide no explanation of why a link or feature won't work without JavaScript. (One exception: provides a nice message to JavaScript-disabled browsers explaining some of the site's features require scripting.)

There's an easy way to make your pages accessible to non-JavaScript browsers and users of popup-blocking software: Use the NOSCRIPT tag, and code your popup links appropriately.


Posted by Chris Heisel on July 23, 2002, at 10:49 p.m.:

I think one thing developers, and newspaper site developers should do is to first develop the site from the basics up:

1. Get your CMS going

2. Develop bare templates (I'm talking just the structural markup tag stuff)

3. Add CSS for positioning and style

4. Add EMCA Script functionality/features

6. Add audio features

5. Add Flash functionaility/features

6. Add video features.

The idea being that as users disable, or because their agents are unable (hey that rhymes), they get back to your core product - content. So if I'm paranoid about JS, or if I'm using a Palm browser -- I'll still get your site, your content, and some form of navigation I'll just be missing the "features" you've added.

For example, here on your site if JS is disabled -- I just post the comment on the blog's permanent page, a good idea.

But I've been to several news sites that use JS for core features, like signing up for newsletters, form validation, etc.

Posted by Chris Heisel on July 23, 2002, at 10:51 p.m.:

P.S. How did you deep link to WSJ content?

Posted by Tom Gilkison on October 8, 2005, at 8:33 a.m.:

If you work on Web applications, this may help you in the future:

Static Web content should be free of scripting needs. When you throw a database into the mix, it can get messy. Data must be validated on the server side. Client side is optional, but provided as a service to users by cutting down on response time from a post to the server. Video clips typically require some kind of bandwidth detection which could occur on the client. If you want to have to pay by enabling JavaScript. It's really impossible to stay away from when you create a Web application.

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