The A List Apart Blog Presents:

An Excellent Week

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A couple of big announcements are making the rounds this week, both of them exciting for those of us who make web sites:

Google advises progressive enhancement

In a blog post explaining updates to its indexing system, Google makes it clear that they’re now parsing web pages in their entirety — not just HTML, but also CSS and JavaScript. Their indexer used to ignore layout and behave as if it were a text-only browser, but now it’s scanning fully rendered pages.

This means a few things. First, make sure you’re not denying Googlebot access to directories that hold your CSS and JavaScript. Check your `robots.txt` file to make sure.

Second, from Google’s post:

Just like modern browsers, our rendering engine might not support all of the technologies a page uses. Make sure your web design adheres to the principles of progressive enhancement as this helps our systems (and a wider range of browsers) see usable content and basic functionality when certain web design features are not yet supported.

Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst

(Emphasis mine. By the way, this support for progressive enhancement plays very nicely with their strong recommendation for responsive web design.)

And third: Speed matters. We’ve known for a while that a fast-loading site makes for a better user experience, but with this update it also means Google’s indexing system now explicitly favors faster-loading sites over slower ones.

How do your sites stack up?

HTML5 is now an official standard

After initially taunting us with a release date well into the next decade, W3C has published their official recommendation for HTML5, ending years of of often-frustrating, but productive development.

Most of us have been using HTML5 for years already (Jeremy Keith published HTML5 For Web Designers in 2010), so this may seem like a small thing to celebrate. But now we can use elements with full confidence they won’t change, we may see quicker adoption by browser makers of all the exciting things HTML5 brings to the table, and any XHTML holdouts may finally be convinced that HTML5 is good to go.

Let’s get out there.

3 Reader Comments

  1. Is it clear what this change will mean for sites which render content after page load using a secondary AJAX request? Right now pre-rendering is the answer. Does this mean those pages no longer need to prerender? I imagine there must be some limit on how much JS or how many AJAX requests the crawler would wait for.

  2. @John: I think this is what they mean when they say that performance is important now.. if you have an Angular app that takes 30 secs. to render, then I too – as you – think that the crawler will skip it… or at least postpone the crawl, and in the end, maybe even rank it lower.

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