<noscript> for the Wicked: I’m Not Buying If I Don’t Know What You’re Selling

Published on by David VanDusen.

Some websites use <noscript> tags to tell users what they’re missing out on when their browsers don’t run JavaScript (often because it’s disabled or they’re using an ad blocker).

Some websites only make it halfway there. They go to the trouble of adding <noscript> tags, but simply say, “This site uses JavaScript for stuff, so turn it on,” and make no effort to explain what the stuff is or why it’s valuable.

As people who make websites, it’s our jobs to communicate to users what the site offers and why they should want it. This applies to everything from navigation link text to button labels.

Consider the following <noscript> text from the wild and ask yourself how you would react as a user who has JavaScript disabled because of privacy, security, mobile bandwidth, or other concerns.

“This site requires JavaScript to run correctly. Please turn on JavaScript or unblock scripts.”

I didn’t come here to “run” the website, I came to read some text, and that seems to be working just fine.

“Your browser’s Javascript functionality is turned off. Please turn it on so that you can experience the full capabilities of this site.”

But I didn’t come to “experience capabilities”. I came to read text.

“Your browser does not support the NLM PubReader view. Go to this page to see a list of supported browsers or return to the Article in classic view.

Thanks for the helpful links, but my browser is on that list. And I can’t “return” anywhere because this newfangled thing is the default—I came straight here.

“Hello! Javascript is required for purchasing, signing up for the newsletter, viewing videos, and other content on this page. Please enable Javascript.”

Well done for mentioning specific features, but, since this message isn’t in proximity to the features mentioned, it sounds more like a plea to get the “other content” loaded, which is probably advertising.

“Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.”

Shows up where I would expect the comments section to be, so +1 for proximity. Now I get to ask myself whether I want to read comments written by strangers on the internet.

“JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser.”

So far my experience has been alright! I’ll keep the option in mind, though.

“Please enable Javascript and refresh the page to continue.”

Oops! I just hit the back button instead of the refresh button. 😈

“JavaScript is required for full functionality of this site. Learn how to enable JavaScript in your web browser

Which functionality, though? Maybe it’s not the functionality I want to use.

“Activate JavaScript! Please activate JavaScript in your browser and refresh this page. This platform will only perform optimally once JavaScript is activated.”

I’m OK with suboptimal. 😀 Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you.

“Please turn JavaScript on and reload the page. DDoS protection by Cloudflare”

Isn’t every web page on the internet being DDoSed at all times? It’s just that the volume of the attack is too low and uncoordinated to cause a degradation of service.

“This website requires JavaScript enabled to checkout.”

I mean, I’m checkin’ out your site right now. Oh, you mean, like, to give you money.

“You have JavaScript disabled. For the best experience, please turn JavaScript on. Here's how

Experience is subjective. How do you know that turning JavaScript on won’t make my experience worse?

“JavaScript is disabled in your browser. In order to use the IKEA Search, JavaScript needs to be enabled.”

I wonder why. To be honest, a list of product names that I could cmd+f through would probably be faster.

“JavaScript is required for parts of this site, like downloading elementary OS and some interactive components.”


“This website is literally about JavaScript. I mean what did you expect, a .NET application? This website is 99.9% poorly optimized and highly questionable JS. And yet, you have JS turned off.”

Fair enough! Can’t argue with that.