For the tl;dr crowd: Just get the book. Short enough to finish in an afternoon, but packed to the gills with information you’ll use moving forward.
Progressive Enhancement vs Graceful Degradation
Chapter 1 defines progressive enhancement this way:
Progressive enhancement is a philosophy aimed at crafting experiences that serve your users by giving them access to content without technological restrictions.
It draws a contrast between that philosophy and the blind alley of “graceful degradation”. Here’s one of my absolute favorite lines from the book:
Graceful degradation was the philosophical equivalent of fault tolerance’s superficial, image-obsessed sister who is fixated on the latest fashions and only hangs out with the cool kids.
Ouch. So that hits a little close to home. But it’s a message that rings true, and thankfully there seems to be no shortage of enthusiasm these days for a content and user-centric approach to web design.
Stacking it Up
In the HTML chapter I came to a deeper understanding of semantic markup, learned about microformats, and the advancements introduced by HTML5.
In the CSS chapter I finally learned about the rules governing selector specificity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for a concise explanation of how CSS determines which rule is given precedence.
The Accessibility chapter taught me about ARIA roles, and it’s already changed the way I write my markup.
Check it Off
I love lists and checking things off, so I was delighted to find that the last chapter is a Progressive Enhancement Checklist broken down into the four major categories of the book. Right now there’s still quite a few unchecked boxes, but hopefully I’ll be checking off more items with each successive site that I build.
To sum up: 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.