Foolish Suggestion: “Please enable javascript.”

You’re a web developer. Of course, you rely on JavaScript for so much of what you need, or simply want, to do. Therefore, you have displayed messages very much like the one in the title above on detecting that a visitor has JavaScript disabled.

Bad idea. It reflects poorly on the site. It is misguided, and will likely be perceived as rude (or worse). Why? Because there is very little chance that the visitor has disabled JavaScript by accident, and so it is almost certain that the visitor has made an intentional, and probably informed, decision that he or she will browse without it.

With that in mind, ask yourself what reaction the suggestion to enable JavaScript will trigger. “Does this guy really think I disabled JavaScript just so his precious site can tell me to turn it on? He must be some kind of [unflattering words here].”

The suggestion to enable scripts implies that that the visitor is wrong. In fact, the visitor is not wrong. The decision to disable JavaScript might be made simply to avoid the many severe annoyances that are implemented with scripting, such as popups and new windows with all kinds of obnoxious content . . . it’s a long list and you know about it already. More likely, the visitor decided to disable JavaScript for privacy and security concerns. Reflect on this a moment and it should become obvious that the suggestion to enable scripts is pointless and wrong.

It’s enough to simply state that the site relies on JavaScript. A message like “Sorry, but this site really does require JavaScript” will probably be accepted with much less irritation than one implying that the visitor is browsing in error. The example here also acknowledges the visitor’s intent by refraining from language that seems to inform the visitor that their browser has scripting disabled, as if he or she did not already know that. Instead, it merely refers to the site’s requirement.

If you’re really good, you might be able to make the site remain functional, even if less awesome, in the absence of scripting. Or, maybe the site really does absolutely require scripting, or maybe you just think that scripting-disabled visitors are too small a minority to be worth the time. So be it. A simple polite message without suggesting ‘give up your security concerns for my site’ is less likely to give the impression that the site has been developed insecurely and cluelessly, and so the visitor might be more likely to consider a scripting policy exception for you.

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