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General Discussion

What is Graceful Degredation and Progressive Enhancement?

I was just wondering if someone could explain these to me... I've been seeing these terms used a lot lately.

1 Answer

Ryan Field
Ryan Field
Courses Plus Student 21,241 Points

Hi, Zack.

Graceful degradation is the idea that you build something with the state-of-the-art features in mind, and then create fallbacks so that those features 'gracefully degrade' with older browsers that might not support the latest technology.

Progressive enhancement is the opposite idea; you start by designing the core features that will work across all browsers, and then build up those core features to take advantage of the latest features and technologies that are available in more modern browsers.

Ryan, thanks again for your timely answer. Which method, in your opinion, is a better idea?

Nathan F.
Nathan F.
30,773 Points

Most developers and designers these days are proponents of progressive enhancement, just as many are proponents of the mobile-first approach to designing a website. But it is also complicated by the number of sophisticated web apps out there. Treehouse itself has a blog post discussing the past, present, and future of progressive enhancement.