Styling HTML5 Elements: An Irresponsible Choice...Right Now
Trevor Davis, Former Front-End Development Technical Director
Ok, before we get too far into this, I want to say this: I fully support web standards and progressive enhancement.
Now go back and read that again before you read any further.
The following discussion all stemmed from a tweet by Kyle Cotter. Specifically, he was asking about using HTML5 elements. My response was:
“No, unless you 100% know that your users are not using older browsers, specifically IE 6-8.”
These examples are not meant to pick fun at the sites or the developers; they are just well known sites that happen to be using HTML5 elements and the HTML5 shiv.
Nike Better World
The Barack Obama site is a fairly important site for us in the US. But if you are using IE6-8 and don’t have JS enabled, you have no idea what those buttons at the top do and the links under the video go away. Uh-oh!
But No IE Users Visit My Site
So, no HTML5 at all?!
I think it’s perfectly acceptable to use & style HTML5 elements and attributes that degrade gracefully. The HTML5 doctype? Of course! HTML5 video and audio? Definitely. Block level links and data attributes? Oh yeahhh!
We have a responsibility as web designers/developers to do the best thing we can for our clients. In my opinion, potentially putting your clients’ money at risk is not worth the benefit of using & styling more semantic elements. We need to really think about the consequences that every decision we make can have. Don’t just use the latest technique to use the latest technique, think carefully about every decision you make.