Is using images to create drop shadows and rounded corners a 'noob' move?

With support for drop shadows and rounded corners via CSS3 gaining traction in nearly all browsers, IE8/IE7 users still exist. Unfortunately, for my target audience, I’m fearful there is a large number of users still sporting these earlier versions of IE. For that reason I feel like I can’t use CSS3 to create my rounded corners and drop shadows.

Let’s say you’re surfing the internet and you need to assess some pages for design… or to simply get an impression of a company. If you visit a page that uses images for rounded corners and shadows do you think, “Psh - these noobs need to get with the times!” What if you were a non-technical user who hasn’t been upgraded to a new browser… if you went to a page that looks great in most browsers but has sharp corners and no depth, would you think, “Psh - these noobs need to think of us non-IE9 users!” or “Psh - these noobs need to have rounded corners and shadows!”

I’m conflicted. I want to be that cutting-edge guy that get’s to use HTML5 and CSS3 but I don’t want to make my site look like crap for some users. With images it’ll look good for almost everyone, right?

What are your thoughts on this… and, if it’s been discussed a million times before, mah bad.

I’d honestly just not let IE users have the rounded corners. They probably don’t know that your regular site even HAS rounded corners normally. If rounded corners were needed due to client requests, I’d do images just for the full browser support. I wouldn’t think less of a developer who had htem just because I realize that the page wasn’t made recently probably, and even so, they may not know of border-radius, or if they do, they realize it’s not fully supported.

Many IE users just think of IE as “the internet”. They don’t know there are other options. You give non-technical people too much credit :).

The only issue you might run into with not serving the rounded corners to the IE audience is that you’re going to have to be able to convince your clients that it’s OK to render a different view to different customers - and that’s a hard sell to make on something as obvious as a rounded corner. Especially if you’re dealing with a visual and/or a non-technical client. It’s much easier to explain away font rendering differences than it is to explain away hard vs round corners.

And considering how easy it is to apply rounded corners with just a little extra markup and IE conditional comments to force the images for those browsers that need it, it shouldn’t be that big a deal to keep up that little extra markup.

Another option is to serve up rounded corners and drop shadwos to older browsers via JavaScript. There are various options out there, such as .

I wouldn’t think bad on you - if I were using IE8 (default Win7 browser), then even if I were a lay person who didn’t know anything about rounded corners, etc., rounded corners are subtle enough to pass by.

“Sharp” corners have been around so long that rounded corners are a nice touch, but not critical to the website.


Sounds like you haven’t had to deal with clients yet. Man, when it comes to stuff like this, I’d prefer a screaming kid in a supermarket to a client any day. :lol:

Yeah. I’m a young 'un for sure. :smiley:


You’re not going to be a cutting-edge guy by using HTML5 and CSS3. You’ll be a cutting-edge guy by creating a light and fast cutting-edge site that uses the latest (and current) standards, goes one mile further than the average designer to deliver a top-notch, flexible, accessible and user-friendly site for as many people as possible, regardless of the device used to access a website.

If your design is great, then missing rounded corners and shadows for users on legacy browsers won’t have much of a significance. Besides, I strongly doubt that a casual user would care about such trivialities. Visitors come to your site for the content, not for the design.

I’ve mostly abandoned using images for rounded corners and drop shadows, the latter mainly because, a) it rarely does anything useful to a design in terms of aesthetics and should only be used (IMO) to make a content element stand out, and b) using CSS3 for drop-shadows can be a true resource hog.

Border-radius is even worse in terms of performance, so I use it very sparingly as well. In fact, I think in some instances (rounded top left/top right corners nav tabs) an image sprite might be less resource intense.

Clients that find cool stuff on the internet is like a child in the candy aisle of a supermarket. It’s an appropriate analogy.

“But you can’t have that!”