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It's a marketing truth that businesses do best by targeting their optimal client, instead of trying to be all things to all people. So now I work to create sites that tell the optimal client "This is what YOU've been looking for" instead of asking everyone "See if you might like this."
Unfortunatly web users do need it.
I have just spent the last couple of weeks upgrading a site that was very dependant on js for navigation form validation and shopping cart. I went looking at several retail-ecom sites with js and cookies off and did not find one that I could both navigate well and get the cart to work (I know they are out there I just didn't find one).
Now that this site works with out cookies and js it lacks the spice that js can add. So its time to concentrate on the 85 to 95 percent of users who can benifit from js. The more I dig into the power of js past rollovers and such the more ways I can see to improve my users experence.
I said all that to say... get the base of the site running on flat HTML and server side scripting and then have some fun with the bulk of the web users.
It's almost never truly difficult to provide extra JS to impress the newbies without breaking the site for everyone else. If you have suicidal customers, explain the situation to them. If they don't change their minds, let them suffer the business consequences of the poor decision but make them promise not to tell anyone you designed the site.