Reviews of the First Edition

The first edition of Adaptive Web Design garnered a lot of praise. Here is a sampling of what folks had to say.

From the Cover

  • Adaptive Web Design not only provides the clearest, most beautiful explanation of progressive enhancement I’ve ever read, it’s also packed full of practical know-how pumped directly into your neocortex through Aaron’s warm and friendly writing style. If you aren’t already using progressive enhancement to build websites, you soon will be.

    Jeremy Keith, Author, HTML5 for Web Designers

  • Finally. Progressive enhancement explained with a perfect balance of theory and practice. Aaron’s take-aways will have you progressively-enhancing your markup, style and behavior with ease.

    Dan Cederholm, Author, CSS3 For Web Designers

On the Web

  • You hear the term ‘Progressive Enhancement’ bandied about as a good thing, and it absolutely is. However, few resources cover the breadth of the topic as well as this book does. Adaptive Web Design includes some of the best and broadest coverage in an easy-to-read and well-structured book.

    Jonathan Snook, Co-author, The Art and Science of CSS

  • Aaron Gustafson’s Adaptive Web Design book provides a metric-shit-tonne of best practices, examples and techniques to progressively enhance websites.

    Brad Frost, Mobile web developer

  • With this forward-thinking book Aaron shows us that anyone can produce accessible, engaging web experiences without sacrificing their ambitions. Through progressive enhancement, he’ll show you how to bring designs to life without compromising the integrity of content. I’ve been learning from Aaron for many years, and suggest you do the same.

    Simon Collison, Co-author, CSS Mastery

  • As cross-platform requirements continue to evolve at the speed of light, designing from the content out isn’t just a good idea. It’s an imperative. How then can we meet the challenges of delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time, and in the right place? Adaptive Web Design shares the necessary insights, tools and techniques for web professionals of all stripes to embrace progressive enhancement as a powerful, shared solution.

    Kristina Halvorson, Author, Content Strategy for the Web

  • HTML5 is the new hotness and a lot of tutorials and demos are there to show off what can be done with it. One thing that a lot of publications right now are missing is information how to use newest technology and keep your products maintainable and working for everybody – not only the cool kids with the newest toys. This book is a voice of reason and explains the very important nuts and bolts instead of blinding you with shiny examples. This is an important step towards building a sturdy web for the future and not another flash in the pan.

    Christian Heilmann, Author, Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax

  • I’m not a programmer and I hardly ever write code, but my success as a user experience designer hinges on the talent and knowledge of the programmers I collaborate with. It is our responsibility to deliver the best possible product to our users, regardless of their technical or physical constraints or preferences. Aaron Gustafson’s Adaptive Web Design has given me a much clearer understanding of the philosophy of progressive enhancement and how to use it. I’m now better equipped to design in layers and ensure my programmers make the necessary considerations to create the experience that all our users deserve.

    Whitney Hess, User Experience Expert

  • If every web professional were to read and fully absorb the information in Aaron Gustafson’s excellent Adaptive Web Design, large parts of the Web would become be so much more, well, adaptive than they are today. We would see fewer cases of entire sites failing without warning when JavaScript is off. We would see less non-semantic markup. We would see fewer widgets that are meaningless and confusing without CSS or JavaScript. And so on. … The Web would simply be more robust.

    Roger Johansson, Front-end web developer

  • [Adaptive Web Design] was a great read and for me what was so helpful was the easy manner in which he laid out using JavaScript to make sure it is an enhancement and not a necessity. The checklist at the back will be referenced again and again. Plus there were lots of little nuggets of CSS and JavaScript that I know will stay with me in my work as I continue to refine and change the way I write code. Now I just need to get this book in the hands of the folks I work with, it is a never ending source of frustration to me that so many tasks on our sites can only be completed with JavaScript enabled.

    Susan Jean Robertson, Front-end web developer

  • I often feel I don’t have the time to read everything about web technologies that one must read these days in order to keep up their skills. … At 135 pages (including the index), Adaptive Web Design is a quick read, packed with solid information. … Not only does Aaron explain practical things for us to apply, he explains the concept of “fault tolerance” – something I had never really considered before, but think about now before I sit down to craft a site or a web app. Fault tolerance is an important concept that aids in understanding how HTML and CSS work to make the life of web authors a bit easier. … [Y]ou will walk away from it a stronger designer/developer. It’s worth it to find time to read Adaptive Web Design.

    Bridget Stewart, Web designer

  • I picked up Aaron Gustafson’s Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences with Progressive Enhancement on a whim, largely because Veerle Pieters showed the cover design as part of her talk at An Event Apart Boston. However, it’s quickly become my essential grab-bag guide to the state of the art in web design. Its focus on progressive enhancement through HTML markup, CSS, and JavaScript was exactly what I needed: an overview of today’s best practices. Even if the detail in this book isn’t as comprehensive as its scope (intentionally so), it has enough detail and practical examples to point me in the right direction to dig deeper. … I found Adaptive Web Design to be funny, informative, and—most importantly—useful. I was able to funnel what I learned directly into my current (and upcoming) projects. I can’t recommend it enough.

    Mark Llobrera, Interactive developer

  • I had a fair grasp of the basics of progressive enhancement with CSS and unobtrusive JavaScript, but I took a lot away from this book, particularly the WAI-ARIA and microformats stuff which I’d not really looked into, and made me rethink a lot about how I structure my CSS. It’s also a great looking and well written book, up there with A Book Apart’s series.

    Lis Hubert, Web designer

  • The book covers a range of different concepts in a clear and easy manner, which makes it a great book for those just getting into thinking about the web (as well as those of us that have been around it for a while).

    Corey Dutson

  • I’m just reading the final chapter in this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough. … As an ASP.NET Web Forms developer, I can relate only too well to the need for diligence and common sense when designing websites that are being accessed on a plethora of devices, some not yet envisioned, by so many different people, many of whom have accessibility issues. I have been facing an uphill struggle in my own attempts to embrace solid best practices in my work and this book has restored my confidence in that quest. … The only other book out there in the same league is the one on Progressive Enhancement by the Filament Group; I just wish I had read this one first! There is no better introduction to the topic out there.

    Anthony Grace “Bognit”, ASP.NET Web Forms developer

  • Aaron has succeeded in explaining the reason for using progressive enhancement, the basics of the various techniques, breaking it down chapter by chapter and also ending it with a checklist for all your progressive enhancement needs. All in a book that not only covers the theory (or philosophy if you so will) behind it but which also contains plenty of practical examples of how, and more importantly why, to implement the techniques. … I can only wish more, a lot more, web designers and developers get their hands on Adaptive Web Design because I consider it a must have tool in any serious designers/developers toolbox. The more people read it, the less sites breaking when the user has JavaScript turned off and the less non-semantic markup and more accessible content will we see. … In short, this book will help us make a better, more future proof and more accessible web.

    Ludvig Lindblom, Front-end developer

  • I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone. For anyone who wants to know what web standards exist today I would recommend the A Book Apart books for an introduction and inspiration and Adaptive Web Design for nuts and bolts.

    Noah Read

  • I read this book in a single day from cover to cover which is quite an achievement for me (I’m easily distracted!). I think that says something about the quality of the writing. It’s an easy read and very informative without leaving you wondering where to go for more information when those inevitable questions pop into your head. … I liked this book a lot, and I’ll be recommending it.


  • Adaptive Web Design explains so elegantly what progressive enhancement is all about, convinces you to believe in the practice, and provides practical implementation techniques. The storytelling is superb and content top-notch. If you create on the web, even if you already know a thing or two about progressive enhancement, this is a must read; I loved it!

    Sean Murphy, Web designer

  • The JavaScript section was the most useful part to me. This is basically a collection of all the current best practice techniques out there today. I liked how many of the JS examples used jQuery — no need to triple the amount of code in the examples when we’re all using jQuery anyway.

    Rachel Lehman

  • Selvom min store passion ligger mest i webdesign, og ikke alene i webudvikling, så er webudvikling stadigvæk en del af det samlede resultat, der i bund og grund er webdesignet. … Derfor synes jeg, at man som webdesigner eller webudvikler (eller begge dele) kan have gavn af bogen. Ganske enkelt fordi, der trænger til at komme mere fokus på tankegangen. … Vi har et ansvar, men her er bogen ikke den endelige brik i puslespillet – det er os selv, der skal ændre vores holdning. Vi skal kræve og ønske et bedre resultat, hvor bogen fungerer som et hjælpemiddel.

    Michael Østergaard, Web designer

  • This is a great book for anyone that is interested in the more technical, but not too technical niche of web design. Aaron does a great job of walking the reader through the technical implementations of an adaptive web design and progressive enhancement. It is short so worth taking a read through then using as a reference for future project work. Great job Aaron!

    Michael, Web designer

  • With this short but well-written book, you’ll learn the key principles and primary techniques for designing web pages that can adapt to devices with different capabilities and display constraints, and are accessible to users equipped with assistive technologies such as screen readers, using only best practices revolving around the effective application of semantic markups, cascading style sheets (CSS), and Javascript.

    The book explains in simple terms what designing web pages with progressive enhancements in mind entails: Keep the initial design simple. Focus first on the semantic markups and basic stylings you can safely use across browsers and devices, then if feature detection code incorporated into the subject web page indicates that a targeted feature is supported, layer on the bells and whistles programmatically through the use of Javascript or CSS rule sets.

    The author provides just enough examples to illustrate the concepts under discussion. If you are just starting to learn about adaptive web design, this book will help you get started in the right direction more quickly than the Filament Group’s Designing with Progressive Enhancement: Building the Web that Works for Everyone book. The latter, however, does provide a slightly more in-depth discussion of adaptive web design and a more extensive collection of examples than this book.


  • When I first started hearing about media queries and adaptive or responsive website design (I believe I heard about these techniques through Website Magazine), I had no idea where to turn to learn them but I knew I needed to jump on it! Web design evolves FAST. I must admit that when I turned to Amazon to find a good book on the subject; initially I was drawn to choose this book simply because of the beautiful and stunning chameleon cover - its so approachable and friendly, it makes media queries less frightening! But after ‘looking inside the book’ via Amazon and reading more reviews about it from others; I was sold. It shipped fast and with a thoughtful letter from the author and I read it cover-to-cover within a couple of days just like a good novel. I keep all of my design and development books for later reference, so this is definitely one I will be referring back to as I begin to build my first fully responsive and adaptive website. Mobile internet use is so huge now; I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to get this book. A great read for any designer - freelance or agency! :)

    Ruby K

  • Even as an introduction to the topic, this book is simply brilliant. With few exceptions, the author writes in a very clear, teaching style, walking the reader through the topic. With the explosion of smart mobile devices, and the coming “web everywhere” technologies, the web developer really has no clue as to what browser capabilities or screen size the users of the site will have. Telling potential customers, clients, or even info junkies, that “This website only works in Firefox 5+ in landscape mode over a high-speed connection with JavaScript enabled” is no longer acceptable.

    By embracing Progressive Enhancement now, you’ll enable your users to perform all necessary tasks and access all content regardless of their browser version or JavaScript capabilities, even with CSS turned off (think accessibility). Understanding the required backward compatibility of HTML and CSS is the key to future proofing your site.

    The only negative is that I disagree with how the author uses a few of the HTML5 tags in the code samples, but since HTML5 is still a work in progress, it does not change the 5 star rating.

    Read it once, read it again, and then look into these other books to add pieces to the Adaptive Web Design puzzle:

    Responsive Web Design ([…]) Mobile First ([…]) Designing with Progressive Enhancement: Building the Web that Works for Everyone ([…]

    S. Watson

  • Great read for the beginner or the experienced front end programmer to remind the steps to progressive enhancement for the best outcome for any site.


  • Really enjoyed this book. It reinforced some things I had forgotten about and made me keen to fine tune my front end code.


  • The best one in the field! This is something worth reading! Thank you Aaron!


  • This may be the most influential book I have read on web development, in terms of principles. Translating it into working habits is… harder.


  • This was the first book I have read about responsive web design and its principles. It is very useful for people who wants to learn the fundamentals of the best practices in responsive front - end development and I definitely recommend it as one of the essential books about this theme.

    Radimir Bitsov

  • This book is a great starting point for everyone who wants to jump into the web’s world, both web designers and developers. It talks about progressive enhancement, a word that you should know and care about if you’re building today and tomorrow's web (and I didn’t before I read this book!).

    What I appreciated the most in this book was the way it’s written. You can read it in a single day. Soft language, easy to read and understand. It’s like having Aaron talking to you and explaining it all to you in your head.

    It has a really strong practical approach as well, which makes it easier to understand the concepts and assimilate them instantly.

    I loved M&M metaphor :)

    Ana Sampaio

  • Anyone that wants to get started in Web Design (or even people that have been doing it for quite some time) should read this book. The author gives you the best description and walk-though of Progressive Enhancement I have ever come across. You do need to have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS & JavaScript to get the most out of the content. It is written clearly and to the point, I was able to read though this book in one evening.

    Paul Redman

  • This is a great book for anyone that is interested in the more technical, but not too technical niche of web design. Aaron does a great job of walking the reader through the technical implementations of an adaptive web design and progressive enhancement. It is short so worth taking a read through then using as a reference for future project work. Great job Aaron!

    Lis Hubert

  • This is the best single resource I’ve come across that teaches and applies the concept of progressive enhancement to every aspect of web design. I especially had some lightbulb moments regarding Accessibility and ARIA in web applications. While there seem to be some complaints that the examples are not in depth enough, I felt they were just right. Not too involved that it encumbered reading the book, yet reaching far enough into each topic that you can begin applying them immediately. I wouldn’t change a thing. This isn’t a how-to manual. It’s an introduction to a way of thinking and designing for the web. I recall the debate over graceful degradation vs. progressive enhancement and I’m thankful the more beautiful of the two concepts won out, due in no small part to this book’s author. Thanks for this great resource Aaron. I look forward to whatever may follow.

    Chad Mefferd

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