Performance and Accessibility Audit of the Elizabeth Warren for President 2020 Website

This is one in a series of posts that will look at the performance and #a11y metrics of the websites for the currently declared 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Yeah, all of them! For more background on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it check read this.

Full disclosure: I have donated $50 to the Warren campaign to date.

Home page of elizabethwarren.com

elizabethwarren.com

Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse scores for elizabethwarren.com

Performance: 20 out of 100

Yikes, this performance score is abysmal. I’d chalk this up to the the front-end being entirely built in a client-side javascript framework, but that’s not an excuse.

Webp images are used in many places which shows at least some thought was given to overall performance but there is still much that could be improved.

Warren is becoming famous for the campaign line “I have a plan for that!”, and I hope her team has a plan to fix these issues. Not so secretly, I’d like to help.

Accessibility: 80 out of 100

  • Skip to Content link is present (great!)
  • Main nav is hidden behind hamburger menu icon, with no visible focus state. (oh no!)
  • Very disappointing that every interactive element save for one is revealed through hover alone. Wayfinding by tabbing is pretty difficult.

Best Practices: 71 out of 100

Loading of offscreen images should be deferred until they are visible.

Scrolling performance is sluggish due to the scrolling event listener used by the AB Tasty plugin to measure how much the page has been viewed. These event listeners should be passive.

SEO: 92 out of 100

One link on the page for /meet-elizabeth uses a generic “Learn More” label. This is a poor practice for accessibility as well.

Network

  • HTTPS: yes
  • 85 Requests
  • 5.1 MB resources
  • Largest asset app.bundle.css at 360 KB. That’s a LOT of CSS. After an inspection I believe the large size is due to including the Font Awesome icon fonts as data URIs. Essentially this is including the entire font in a file that blocks page rendering until it has fully downloaded. Breaking them out would improve her site’s performance.

Platform

  • WordPress, custom theme

Notes

Just noticed this as I was about to publish: how did they know I was in Illinois? I mean, IP address, sure, but it’s a nice (and maybe a little intrusive) touch.

Performance and A11Y Audit of the Cory Booker 2020 Website

Home page of corybooker.com

corybooker.com

Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse scores for corybooker.com

Performance: 76 out of 100

There are a number of CSS files and jQuery javascript plugins that are blocking the initial render until they are all downloaded. Bundling these together and removing unused code could improve this score.

Accessibility: 90 out of 100

  • Default browser focus outlines appear for all buttons and links, tab order is logical.
  • This is bad HTML:
<a href="https://shop.corybooker.com/" rel="noopener">
    <button class="booker-button booker-button__shop">
        Gear up
    </button>
</a>
  • Video play buttons aren’t labeled.

Best Practices: 86 out of 100

There is a vulnerability in the jQuery library used, jQuery@1.12.4. This is a common problem found in the WordPress platform. Updating the theme to use a more modern version, or hey no jQuery at all, would be an improvement.

SEO: 82 out of 100

The site is getting dinged in the SEO score for not having a meta description, yet I see it in the source. It may be that this is being rendered client-side.

The document has conflicting canonical URLs.

Network

  • HTTPS: yes
  • 43 Requests
  • 2.4 MB resources
  • Largest asset is an shop-desktop.webp (yay!) but at 362 KB I suspect some bad encoding needs to be fixed. It does not render in a new tab in Chrome.

Platform

  • WordPress, custom theme Bookerstrap (hah!)

Performance and Accessibility Audit of the Joe Biden 2020 Website

This is the first in a series of posts that will look at the performance and #a11y metrics of the websites for the currently declared 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Yeah, all of them! For more background on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it check out this post.

joebiden.com

Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse results for joebiden.com

Performance: 91 out of 100

That’s really good for a site like this. The biggest knock against it performance wise is the 4.1 seconds time to interactive. This is a measure of how long it takes for a site to load and a user able to interact with it, for example clicking on a button to donate. Faster is better.

Accessibility: 96 out of 100

  • Default browser focus outlines appear for all buttons and links. There is a missed opportunity to to style them to coordinate with the hover states.
  • The image carousel is keyboard accessible.
  • The popup modal to join the campaign appears to be inaccessible and can’t be filled out without a mouse. However it does close with the ESC key.
  • Form fields are missing labels.
  • No contrast issues with any of text were found!

Best Practices: 86 out of 100

In most cases the images on the page are jpgs and could be converted to more optimized formats such as webp.

SEO: 100 out of 100

Funny that this site scores a 100/100 but up until a few weeks ago https://joebiden.info/ was appearing at the top of search results and the .com was nowhere to be found.

Network

  • HTTPS: yes
  • 58 Requests
  • 3.9 MB resources
  • Largest asset is an image contained in a carousel, a 214 KB jpg

Platform

  • WordPress, BEXC theme. I can’t find if this is an off the shelf theme or a custom one with an inexplicable name.

Notes

All in all a very well-performing site, if a bit generic.

Continue on with the other candidates in the series

A Performance and Accessibility Audit of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Websites

When Elizabeth Warren released her nifty Cancel My Student Debt online calculator a couple weeks ago, I needed to take a look at it. I do this with pretty much any notable piece of work on the web. Kick the tires so to speak, enter random data, and open up Chrome’s dev tools to inspect the code. That inspired the above tweet and got me thinking about how performant and accessible the leading candidate’s websites are.

My career is building websites. Huge data-driven applications for businesses and consumers, one-off pages for young adult book series, and marketing sites of all sizes in between. I’ve been an advocate for best practices in accessibility and performance for years, but unfortunately with marketing budgets and timelines as tight as they often are those concerns get left until the end of a project, the “nice to haves” if we have time, and I’m rarely given the time.

However, I believe a website is never “done”, and there are always ways to improve it, shrink the load times, be more inclusive to more users, all in ways that don’t sacrifice the aesthetic design that was sold to the client. So with all that in mind and today being Global Accessibility Awareness Day I’m kicking off a series looking at the websites of the 23 (?!) currently declared Democratic candidates for 2020. I think it could be a fun (lol, so fun!) exercise to look at each of them with an eye for how inclusive they are and how well they perform when stacked up against one another.

Tools and Methodology

I’ll begin with only looking at the homepages of each candidate. As the entry page with the most traffic this is likely to show the best and worst build qualities on any site. I’ll perform an audit of the page’s performance, accessibility, and SEO using Google Lighthouse.

Lighthouse scores for damofknowledge.com
Obviously I still have some work to do on my own site.
“The shoemaker’s kid always goes barefoot” and all that.

My settings for Google Lighthouse:

  • Device: Desktop
  • Audits: Performance, Best Practices, Accessibility (a11y), SEO
  • Bandwidth Throttling: Simulated Fast 3G
  • Clear storage
  • Incognito window so there are no conflicts with browser extensions

Network

Checking the Network tab in Chrome’s dev tools and noting: the total number of requests loaded, total page size, and what is the largest asset being served.

I will manually check the site is served over HTTPS, and that HTTP traffic is properly redirected. If you want my campaign donations this is a no brainer so I would be surprised if this weren’t the case everywhere.

Platform check: am I able to determine what CMS or other application is powering the site? WordPress, Drupal, or something else entirely?

Many of the accessibility checks that Lighthouse does can not be automated and it notes that these must be done manually so I will do my number one a11y test: tabbing through a page and noting if I can find my way or not. Do links and buttons visually identify themselves as focused? Is the tab order logical (left to right, top to bottom)?

Finally I’ll add any notes and fun findings I may come across.

Comments will be open for feedback. As the first caucuses and primaries are still MONTHS away it is my hope that I will revisit many of these sites and see that their teams also realize that a website’s work is never finished and improvements have been made.

And now, in the order of this FiveThirtyEight poll tracker, let’s get started (before there are 24!).

Thanks to QZ for being the first place I Googled to find all of them in one place.