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Why marketers should mind their Javascript language

One technology used widely on interactive web sites is AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML). At the heart of AJAX lies Javascript, a scripting language which has been around in one form or another for many years. It enables events to take place independently of the server, or even of user input. For example, it can enable timed events to occur without the page being reloaded, or enable the content to change in response to user input.

However, Javascript does have an Achilles' heel. Web users can disable it via their browser setup. And there are good reasons to do so. Apart from being used for pop-up advertisements, which are almost universally disliked, it can also be exploited for malicious purposes.

Until recently only around 5% of users had Javascript disabled, but that may be rising. Sites that I monitor are currently recording 10-12% Javascript disablement, and even up to 24%. One cause may be the growing use of mobile devices.

In a recent review conducted internally by Sellerdeck, 61% of E-Commerce sites showed at least partial dependence on Javascript. Is yours one of them? And how does it respond to visitors that do not support it? Of the sites we examined, only around a quarter detected the lack of Javascript support in visitors' browsers and presented an explanatory message.

Now would be a good time to switch off Javascript in your own browser and pay a visit to your site to see how it's handled. The site should detect if a user has Javascript disabled; provide an appropriate warning; and offer alternative mechanisms for accessing the basic site features. Otherwise you could miss out on business from both mobile and security-conscious visitors.

By Bruce Townsend, E-Commerce product manager and SEO specialist at Sellerdeck. Originally published on

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