Creating websites with prefers-reduced-data

Part of CSS Media Queries Level 5 is the User Preference Media Feature prefers-reduced-data:

The prefers-reduced-data CSS media feature is used to detect if the user has requested the web content that consumes less internet traffic.

There currently is no browser support at all, but that doesn’t stop Kilian Valkhof from taking a peek under the hood.

/* Serve a smaller image by default */
body {
  background-image: url(/images/small-fast-image.webp);
}

/* But replace it with a large image when applicable */
@media (prefers-reduced-data: no-preference) {
  body {
    background-image: url(/image/large-pretty-image.png);
  }
}

Like prefers-reduced-motion, it’s good to think of the prefers-reduced-data: reduce option as the default option: people get the lean, fast experience, and only when they indicate no-preference, we send them more data. That way, older browser[s] that don’t support the media query get the lean experience by default.

I especially like the example where the Infinite Scroll paradigm is replaced with a “load more” button when the user has prefers-reduced-data: reduce set. Clever!

Creating websites with prefers-reduced-data

🔥 Another great User Preference Media Feature is prefers-reduced-motion, which can easily be taken into account by using CSS Custom Properties. And you most likely will have heard about prefers-color-scheme too, which allows you to implement Dark Mode.

About the author

Bramus is a Freelance Web Developer from Belgium. From the moment he discovered view-source at the age of 14 (way back in 1997), he fell in love with the web and has been tinkering with it ever since (more …)

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