Reports of Nonprofit use of the Web
Over the course of 1997, we conducted a series of studies. We varied both our measurements and our samples. By the end of our project, we hope to have developed some tools and benchmarks that will be useful to nonprofit organizations in either starting or enhancing their web-based communication strategies.
If you are interested in custom analysis of your web endeavors, we can arrange to do that for a modest fee.
- We surveyed almost 1000 web sites belonging to organizations serving children and youth. As their “entry” page we selected the page that they themselves had indexed as such with a major nonprofit index service. Eliminating those for which there was inadequate data, we determined the number of days since that page was last revised.
In summary: We found the median age of the pages was over two months, the mean age was over four months, and less than 14% of pages had been revised within the last week. I will discuss “last modified” as one of many factors in determining the vitality and utility of a web site, acknowledge the limitations of this methodology, and bring up a few ideas for future study.
Site Analyzer Report #2: The Interactivity of Environmental Web Sites
- We surveyed over 500 web sites belonging to environmental organizations. As their “entry” page we selected the page that they had submitted as such with a respected online index of environmental resources. Eliminating those pages for which there were errors or insufficient data, for each page we determined whether it had email links or forms for user interaction.
In summary: We found that at least 65% of the front pages surveyed provided no online mechanism (either by email or by form) for contacting the organization sponsoring the site. We will discuss the value of these measurements in assessing the utility of a web site, explore the limitations of the methodology and develop some further ideas for future study.
Site Analyzer Report #3: The Accessibility of Disabilities Sites
- We surveyed over 200 web sites belonging to organizations working in support of people with disabilities. We used as our sample the home pages provided by these organizations to an established list of disabilities resources. Discarding those pages for which the URL provided failed, we ran each page through a well accepted routine for determining compliance with the current standards for web page accessibility.
In summary, we found that nearly 65% of the sites had one or more accessibility errors. Nearly 80% had some sort of browser compatibility error that might lead to an access problem. 20% of the sites took more than 30 seconds to load, though most took much less. No site had more than three access errors, indicating that whatever problems do exist would be easy to repair.
This sample is not at all representative of nonprofit web sites as a whole. The sample was deliberately selected because it would be likely to have the lowest number of problems, given the issue focus of the organizations. We will also discuss the value of these numbers and of web accessibility tools in general.
- Technical improvements of our analytical tool chest.
- Suggestions for new or improved measurements.
- Requests for analysis of particular segments of the nonprofit world online.
- Anecdotes relating to, and comment on our analysis.
I am puzzled on why you think ‘Bobby’ is the godsend as to determining if a site is accessible or inaccessible.
Basically, Bobby is merely a tool to a end-goal of accessibility. There are inaccessible pages that Bobby grants its approval and there are accessible sites that Bobby flags (specifically any server sided image map). To ignore this fact and give Bobby the authority that you seem to be giving it is a horrible precedent.
I would hope you would conduct a more scientific and fair survey in the future.
Network & Information Services
Institute on Human Development and Disability
College of Family & Consumer Sciences
University of Georgia
I recently came across your survey of the accessibility of disability-related nonprofit websites, as measured by Bobby. I believe the survey lacked some details which could have been illuminating.
Accessibility is an issue for people affected by certain disabilities, yet the survey did not detail which disabilities were the focus of the sites examined. It would have been more revealing to examine which kind of accessibility errors were found, and on which category of sites. It would be more significant to find accessibility errors on sites related to visual impairment than, say, bowel cancer. It would also be a more significant test for Bobby itself, which is not a perfect indicator of accessibility.
You also failed to mention that Bobby’s own home page [ http://www.cast.org/bobby/ ] has 20 browser compatibility errors, which suggests that this is an even less significant test of accessibility.
From my own experience, it is possible to design a website that is both fully accessible (ie works equally well in text and graphical browsers, degrading legibly in older versions, with no barriers) and fails the Bobby test. Without a more detailed real-world test of the accessibility of these sites, the survey is directly equating Bobby approval with accessibility, which even the designers of Bobby agree is not accurate.
If indeed you ever conduct a more broad survey of the accessibility of non-profit websites, I would be most interested in the results.
I have read your comments about disability web site access. You have some valid comments. I work on the web site for our organisation. It has passed the “Bobby” test, but I will check and see what you say about other problems. However, from what you say, perhaps the “Bobby” logo has some problems of its own.
If you really wish to get completely depressed, perhaps you might try looking at some Canadian or U.S. Government web sites. They can be really intimidateing, particularly with multiple panes, .PDF file links and other glitzy show pieces. Even though Canadian government policies suggest “text accessible” sites, they are not too common.
Bobby does not claim to be the be all and end all of web analysis for accessibility. It depends on several factors which are clearly stated in its pages. also, you miss a point that may be even more interesting from a non profit analysis point of view. I have found in my years of work with them that by and large, non profit disability organizations are not targeting people with disabilities with their publicity as much of it is intended for funding and they fel that the best way to get funding is to attract it through traditional streams. Some disability organizations even claim that it is too costly to produce their publicity in forms that are independantly useable by their mentored populations for the return they would get. It is often said that 70 percent of the blind for instance are either un or under employed, in fact, if we look at the disability population as a whole, we see much more alarming stats.
Check this out, Let’s dialog?
Thanks for your study your efforts and the report. Please do not be mislead into thinking that the federal government is going to mandate anything here. it is not. It is going to come up with clearn standards, but the standards will not be funded so will not be adhered too even and especially within a number of agencies in the fed its self.