I've analyzed the accessibility of over 1600 personal sites
Since 2019, WebAIM evaluates the accessibility of the top 1,000,000 websites. The results are alarming: 97.4% of home pages had detectable WCAG failures in 2021. I leave the root cause analysis for another blog post, but one common assumption is that big companies don't want to spend the time and money to make their websites accessible.
So I've been wondering: how well are personal websites doing, i.e., portfolio/blog pages from individual people?
Table of contents:
I've hand-picked 1629 personal sites from the following sources:
- Blog Surf: A curated blog directory (no longer exists)
- PersonalSit.es: A personal sites collection
- The Whimsical Web: A curated list of sites with "an extra bit of fun"
- Eleventy leaderboards: A list of 11ty websites
- Developer Blog Directory: A GitHub repository containing developer blogs
- 🕸💍.ws: An IndieWeb web ring
I've explicitly excluded company websites and landing pages.
For web page validation, I've used my own tool: evaluatory. Evaluatory is mainly a wrapper around axe-core (with support for other modules), but it tests multiple device breakpoints and provides a visual result page. In the following analysis, I've only included axe-core's WCAG violation rules. Check out my configuration file for more details.
Here are the results: 1210 out of 1629 tested pages (= 74%) contained at least one detectable WCAG issue.
Compared to the 97.4% failure rate from the WebAIM study, personal sites are indeed doing better. However, with 3 ouf of 4 personal sites not being accessible, there's still a lot of room for improvement.
In total, there were 46,205 violations, with an average of 28.4 violations per site and a maximum of 2075 issues on a single page.
Most common WCAG failures (% of home pages) were:
- Low contrast text: 57.3%
- Empty links: 32.6%
- Missing alternative text for images: 17.3%
- Missing document language: 17.1%
This is not an academic study. But for anyone (mis-)interpreting the numbers, keep the following in mind:
- A typical personal home page is less complex than a big popular website.
- I've only analyzed the home (front) pages.
- Objectively, a page with a single WCAG 2 violation is considered inaccessible, based on the binary nature of the guidelines. The future WCAG 3 version will address this black and white thinking by introducing an accessibility score instead.
- Tools can only detect 20-50% of all accessibility issues. A perfect score doesn't mean your page is accessible.
It turns out that personal websites from individual creators are more likely to be accessible than big popular websites. But there's still a lot for us to do to make the web more inclusive for everyone. It's easier than ever to test your own website: Run Chrome's Lighthouse audit, install the WAVE browser extension or use evaluatory from the command line. Any of those tools will detect common issues, explain their importance and offer a way to fix them.