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View Poll Results: Who is responsible for the implementaton of graceful degradation in a website?

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  • The client

    1 8.33%
  • The developer

    11 91.67%
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  1. #1
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    Who is responsible for the implementaton of graceful degradation in a website?

    In several recent threads (the most recent of which is this one) the discussion has come up as to who is actually responsible for implementing graceful degradation in a website.

    Some argue that it is the responsibility of the client, while others argue it's the responsibility of the developer who's implementing the website.

    Personally I'm in the second camp; I think the drawbacks of having parts of the main content rely heavily on javascript are just too many to ignore.

    So, my question to you: should a developer always implement graceful degradation, or should the client decide whether it should be implemented or not?

    Note: anywhere it says "graceful degradation" one could also read "progressive enhancement"
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  2. #2
    I meant that to happen silver trophybronze trophy Raffles's Avatar
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    The developer. There are professional standards to adhere to and the developer is the educated person in this field. It is the developer's job to inform and advise the client. Now, if after advising and informing the client adamantly says "no" to progressive enhancement, then the client adopts the responsibility. The assumption of course is that the developer explained everything to the client clearly.

  3. #3
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    If the client decides not to implement it then the developer really needs to get it in writing that the client accepts all responsibility for the decision and that the client will have no claim against the developer if the client ends up being sued because the site is inaccessible.
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  4. #4
    Non-Member Kalon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
    It is the developer's job to inform and advise the client. Now, if after advising and informing the client adamantly says "no" to progressive enhancement, then the client adopts the responsibility. The assumption of course is that the developer explained everything to the client clearly.
    I agree if the developer's advice is limited to providing user experience pitfalls, and not any legal advice unless the developer is legally qualified to do so. Imho the client can get their own legal advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    If the client decides not to implement it then the developer really needs to get it in writing that the client accepts all responsibility for the decision and that the client will have no claim against the developer if the client ends up being sued because the site is inaccessible.
    yep and that is what I do in any contract/agreement I sign.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Depends on what the legal ramifications are.

    When I buy a new car, I expect it to fall within emissions and safety standards. Hell, I can't even request the thing doesn't drive around in the daytime without the headlights running (ARG hateses them); I can't get the back windows to roll all the way down because some irresponsible parent let their kids climb out while driving on the highway... ...degrade into rant about cars...

    Although, in the countries I know of with accessibility laws, the client (the one who owns the web site) is the one held legally responsible if their site is inaccessible; they are the ones sued by Getty and Corbis if their developer used unpaid images; they are the ones given the letter if their developer uses text plagarised from somewhere.

    That might mean the developer is required to be informed themselves, must inform the client, and are held responsible unless they have some signed waiver where the client claims all responsibility.

    Is there a precedent anywhere where the client successfully put the blame over to the developer/developing company?

  6. #6
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    I vote for the third option as I stated before. Although the poll itself is written so it can only really be the developer as they have been commissioned to do the actual work. If you hire an electrician you expect them to follow the electrical wiring rules and regulations.

    Albeit if the owner gets contacted by people who has severe 'accessibility issues' with regards to their website due to shoddy workmanship. And if the owner doesn't attempt make "reasonable adjustments" after being contacted then the owner is at fault too. Same goes for above if the owner disregards such advice; if the webmaster stated the current legislation regarding such things.

    In such a scenario within the UK legal action theoretically could be taken if the site doesn't function without JavaScript, i.e. core functionally preventing access to a web service or content such as online purchasing. I don't mean progressive enhancement, fluffy dice, rounded corners, etc.

  7. #7
    Non-Member Kalon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xhtmlcoder View Post
    If you hire an electrician you expect them to follow the electrical wiring rules and regulations.
    yes that's true generally, but where I live electricians and plumbers must be licenced in order to operate legally. Web developers do not have to be licenced.

    you would have to look at all the Acts of Law applicable to the website to see what the responsibilities are for the website owner and developer.

    in some countries what must be done and what is optional for a website varies depending on whether the owner of the website is a government department or not.

  8. #8
    Non-Member Kalon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xhtmlcoder View Post
    Although the poll itself is written so it can only really be the developer as they have been commissioned to do the actual work.
    yep because I don't think there is any dispute that once it is decided to support javascript disabled browsers, either because of legislation or choice, it is the developer's role to then go ahead and build the website in accordance with the client's specifications.

    I would have thought a more appropriate poll question could be along the lines of:

    "Who bears the ultimate responsibility for ensuring all legal obligations of the website are met?"

    and what about in "grey areas" where a large corporation has its own IT department and full time support people. Can a full time employee be held responsible for breaching any legally required accessibility requirements if the employee asked to build the website was not properly qualified to build it?

  9. #9
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    I don't know about the hobbyist employee but certainly the website itself in the UK theoretically will be liable whether or not it is commercial or built by a hired professional/worker.

    Even if it was a neighbour from down the road who has only ever used FrontPage twice in their lives or something as dire. Had never even seen any source code, did it as a favour and asked for no payment from the start and wrote no contract, etc.

    The web accessibility law would still apply so its no defence being ignorant of the law. Though obviously it's mainly targeted at businesses rather than your granddad talking about his favourite pastime hobby.

  10. #10
    Non-Member Kalon's Avatar
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    so when we speculate on hypotheticals until we go and everything is said and done, the way I see it is everything eventually filters down to

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalon View Post
    you would have to look at all the Acts of Law applicable to the website to see what the responsibilities are for the website owner and developer.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    The client will most likely be blissfully unaware of what graceful degredation even mean. All the client wants is to increase his revenue (assuming we're talking a business website). The developer's task is to do this. Unless the client demonstrates a significant amount of knowledge on the subject, and specifically tells the developer to ignore those pesky Internet Explorer 6-users, the developer should either make the website degrade gracefully as a standard, or at the very least help the client make an informed decision on the matter.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ankerstjerne View Post
    The client will most likely be blissfully unaware of what graceful degredation even mean. All the client wants is to increase his revenue (assuming we're talking a business website). The developer's task is to do this. Unless the client demonstrates a significant amount of knowledge on the subject, and specifically tells the developer to ignore those pesky Internet Explorer 6-users, the developer should either make the website degrade gracefully as a standard, or at the very least help the client make an informed decision on the matter.
    I agree with that 100%
    That is also how I work; the client gets graceful degradation unless they specifically state otherwise.
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    If I did freelance and had clients who specifically requested inaccessible things on their web site... I would have to charge extra for that. To pay off my conscience.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Addict beebs93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    If I did freelance and had clients who specifically requested inaccessible things on their web site... I would have to charge extra for that. To pay off my conscience.
    Ha, I'd like to see how you would work that into a contract.

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  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Haha, yeah.

    5-10 page website: $
    Custom contact form: $$
    CSS instead of tables: included!
    Accessibility: included!
    Valid code: included!
    Googleable/SEO voodoo: included!
    Javascript as progressive enhancement rather than as a barrier: included!
    Works cross-browser (desktop): included!
    Print stylesheet: included!
    Mobile version: included if there are no funky retarded apps for just 1 device whose name starts with "i"

    Layer of garbage to drive away customers: $$$$$$ (must include signed contract stating client accepts 100% responsibility for retardedness and my company name appears nowhere on the website)

    9px light grey text on white background: $$$$$$
    Javascript required to see any of the content at all (not counting Node.js of course): $$$$$$
    Sign telling users to turn on Javascript to see any of the content at all: $$
    Flash intro users can't skip out of: $$$$$$$$
    Automatic trendy! background music: $$$$$
    "Best Viewed in <browserX>" badge: $$$$$
    Shiny pink beta star: $$$
    400kb background images: $$$$$
    Multiple redirects so users are unsure where they are now: $$$
    Pop-up ads: $$$$$
    Animated ads: $$$$$
    Open all links in a new window: $$$
    Open internal links in same window, external links in new window: $$$$$$$$
    Trendy HTML5/CSS3 stuff that only works in Safari and Chrome (with Javascript of course): $$$$
    Make text unhighlightable or uncopyable: $$$$$$
    Forms with moving parts that sing and dance: $$$$
    Menus with moving parts that sing and dance: $$$$
    Anything that fades in and out that isn't decoration: $$$$$
    AutoTab() on forms: $$$
    TabIndex and accesskeys for sites whose visitors are not expected to visit daily: $$

    Do all this in DreamWeaver: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


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