What is the opposite of “Graceful Degradation?”
August 29, 2007 § 3 Comments
Today, you can buy a fairly swanky 22 inch LCD monitor for about $250. You’ll probably be able to get a 30 inch one of superior quality for the same price in less than two years. Goodness only knows how fast your processor will be then, or how much memory you’ll have, but the question is what are we going to do with all those pixels and all that horsepower?
In web and interactive design the term “graceful degradation” gets thrown around when you want to make something, perhaps a little over-the-top for viewers who have the latest and greatest software and equipment, but also want to have something that works reasonably well for those unwashed masses that might be lagging a little behind in their technology consumption. As anyone who has slung a little html can tell you, there are all sorts of hacks and scripts to sniff out browsers versions and to selectively hide and show features. It can be a lot to keep up with, but we are begininning to face a new challenge, and I think the implementation of Safari on the iPhone is the tipping point: our user experience capabilities are starting to get quite good in a wide range of devices – phones, cameras, laptops, desktops, kiosks, etc. and they are all about to get a whole lot better. So we need a new bit of terminology, a new word or phrase coined to capture the practice of designing for a landscape that is tilting toward greater capability, without wallowing in fluff or pointless feature-creep (think “Skip Intro” or “Clippy”). So what’s it going to be? Graceful Upgradation? Elegant Elevation? Intelligent Feature Expansion? Yeah, none of those work for me either, but I’d love to hear what you come up with.