An HTML Element Potentially Worth $18M to Indiegogo Campaigns

The title of this post is a play on Jason Grigsby’s recent post An HTML attribute potentially worth $4.4M to Chipotle. In it he asks:

How many other people have failed to finish an order because the form doesn’t support autofill and the error messages aren’t helpful?

He guesstimates maybe a half percentage point and then runs the numbers against public data to come up with a potential value to Chipotle of adding some standard HTML — $4.4 million USD.

This argument, and the math behind it, is familiar to me. I have spent years trying to make the business case to clients for why they need to make their site accessible. I have pointed to the Click-Away Pound for potential revenue, or to more esoteric arguments about public perceptions, but few seem to care unless I can point to a specific dollar amount for their business.

What is my opportunity cost? What top-line revenue will it bring me?

I spit-balled in a tweet:

Then I remembered I have some data I can use. Sort of.

The Indiegogo Payment Experience

Last June (2018) I was in the midst of screen reader testing when a local crowdfunding campaign came across my timeline. I wanted to support it, so I popped over to Indiegogo and quickly found that if there is anything that causes the Angular code driving the page to fail, then the entire page fails.

A couple refreshes later when I got the page to render, I tried to fill out my billing information and was greeted with a wall of edit has autocomplete for nearly every field on the page.

Nearly all fields announce as edit has autocomplete. At 21 seconds I get a field name (Country edit, blank) and type a value, but note it goes away when I leave the field. If you stick it out to the end you can see the error messages that do not get announced.

It was immediately apparent that the fields had no accessible name. Despite the visible text label, nothing was programmatically associated. Some digging revealed the problem:

<div class="pf-input full" ng-click="focus()" ng-class="{full: showLabel}" style>
  <label class="pf-input-placeholder ng-binding pf-input-placeholder--full" ng-class="{'pf-input-placeholder--full': showLabel}" style>Full Name</label>
  <input pf-formatter pf-validator ng-model="model" ng-blur="onBlur()" ng-class="{'invalid-input': validatorError || outsideError}" type="text" tabindex gogo-test="shipping_name" class="ng-valid ng-valid-pf-validator ng-touched ng-dirty ng-valid-parse" style>
  <ng-transclude></ng-transclude>
  <!-- ngIf: validatorError || outsideError -->
</div>

The <label> elements had no for attributes to associate them with the fields. However, this was moot since the fields had no id attributes to connect them. This is also why my browser’s effort to autocomplete the fields resulted in filling each field with the exact same text.

Indiegogo form for my shipping address showing the browser auto-complete feature on the Full Name field, offering my name as an option. The same form, after I chose my name from the browser auto-complete options. Each separate field is filled out with my name, not my shipping address.
When you do not provide autocomplete cues, the browser may improvise.

I filed a bug with Indiegogo. The next day (June 8, 2018) Indiegogo marked it as solved and closed it.

Fast Forward 1 Year, 3 Months, 20 Days

I will let the video speak for itself (literally).

From 1:09 to 1:42 I am trying to Shift + Tab backward in the form but am trapped in the credit card fields. Then I drop out of forms mode (Caps Lock + Space) and go back to the nearest previous landmark (Shift + D).

With NVDA and Firefox getting you nowhere, if you fire up JAWS with Internet Explorer, a common browser pairing, Indiegogo gives you a different welcome altogether.

Internet Explorer window with a message that reads: “We'd love to invite you in but you'll have to update your browser first. Please upgrade from any of the links below and come back and see us.” Then logos / links for Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari.

Along with useful link text such as Igg browsererror asset moz Mozilla Firefox, link.

At least with VoiceOver and Safari I can get through more fields on the form by guessing at field names, though it understandably falls down when it encounters fields that share an id with <label>s that point to… one or the other:

<div class="pf-input full" ng-click="focus()" ng-class="{full: showLabel}" style="">
  <label for="address" class="pf-input-placeholder ng-binding pf-input-placeholder--full" ng-class="{'pf-input-placeholder--full': showLabel}" style="">Street Address</label>
  <input pf-formatter="" pf-validator="" ng-model="model" ng-blur="onBlur()" ng-class="{'invalid-input': validatorError || outsideError}" type="text" tabindex="" gogo-test="shipping_street_address_1" autocomplete="shipping street-address address-line1" id="address" name="address" class="ng-pristine ng-valid ng-valid-pf-validator ng-touched" style="">
  <ng-transclude></ng-transclude>
  <!-- ngIf: validatorError || outsideError -->
</div>
[…]
<div class="pf-input" ng-click="focus()" ng-class="{full: showLabel}">
  <label for="address" class="pf-input-placeholder ng-binding" ng-class="{'pf-input-placeholder--full': showLabel}">Address Line 2 (optional)</label>
  <input pf-formatter="" pf-validator="" ng-model="model" ng-blur="onBlur()" ng-class="{'invalid-input': validatorError || outsideError}" type="text" tabindex="" gogo-test="shipping_street_address_2" autocomplete="shipping address-line2" id="address" name="address" class="ng-pristine ng-valid ng-valid-pf-validator ng-touched" style="">
  <ng-transclude></ng-transclude>
  <!-- ngIf: validatorError || outsideError -->
</div>

A Single Element Fix

There is a lot going wrong on this page, even after Indiegogo’s effort at a fix. Axe finds 33 errors on the page, ARC finds 36. And we know automated accessibility testing tools only capture about a third of issues.

But the single thing blocking these screen reader examples is the broken accessible name or, more specifically, incorrect use of <label>. To use it correctly would require fixing the ids as well.

Correctly using <label> won’t resolve the problems for every user, but it gives us a starting point.

How Many Users Does This Impact?

Getting specific numbers of users is tricky. We cannot, and should not, detect screen readers. What we can do, however, is use Cornell’s DisabilityStatistics.org to get a general percentage of the population and extrapolate out.

The percentage of non-institutionalized people, male or female, regardless of age, ethnicity, or education levels in the United States that reported a visual disability in 2017 is 2.3%.

This self-reporting is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (which has its own accessibility problems, potentially skewing the numbers lower), and the data is more recent than the 2018 Americans with Disabilities: 2014 which, as the title implies, looks at data four years earlier. You can get more segmented numbers from National Federation of the Blind’s Blindness Statistics page, which also offers a bit more detail on the population breakdown.

The numbers do not take into account screen reader users who are not blind (or visually impaired), such as those with learning impairments, dyslexia, mobility impairments, and so on. Between one-quarter and one-third of screen reader users are not represented in the blindness statistics, which means we should increment that 2.3% accordingly. In the interests of math, let’s round it to 3%.

The broken <label>s also means any voice-only users cannot use voice commands to choose fields. They may say the visible label text, but without it being programmatically associated with the field, it won’t highlight any of the fields they want. Since I do not have easy access to numbers of voice users, let’s conservatively assume my 3% number includes them (though it may be grossly under-counting).

Thanks to some questionable and sloppy math I can assert that a correctly implemented <label> allows any single campaign on Indiegogo to potentially capture 3% more money.

How Much is a Correct <label> Worth?

I am going to take one year of funding pledges on Indiegogo, using data from a cumulative history chart and looking at just the dollars amount raised between April 2018 and April 2019. In April of 2018, Indiegogo had raised $3,607,430,000 since its start. By April 2019 it was up to $4,203,440,000. That is $596,010,000 in one year.

If $596,010,000 is only from 97% of the total possible audience, then capturing 100% of the audience would put that number up to $‭614,443,300‬. That’s a difference of $18,433,300. I will follow Jason’s approach here and show my math:

  $4,203,440,000    Raised by Indiegogo up to April 2019
− $3,607,430,000    Raised by Indiegogo up to April 2018
=   $596,010,000    Raised by Indiegogo in that one year

               2.3  % of population with visual impairment
×              0.3  % of non-blind screen reader users
×              ?.?  % of voice users
=             ~3    % of users

    $596,010,000    Raised by Indiegogo April 2018 to 2019
÷             97    % of potential audience (100% − 3%)
=   $‭614,443,300    Possible funds in that year
−   $596,010,000    Raised funds in that year
=    $18,433,300    Funds left on the table

Indiegogo takes a minimum 5% fee from funds raised, which comes out to $921,665.

Recap

To recap, if Indiegogo had correctly implemented <label>s on its payment form then last year its campaigns would have had access to more than $18 million dollars. Indiegogo then could have put nearly a million dollars in its pocket.

There may be a reason accessibility-related campaigns on Indiegogo consistently fail to make their goals.

4 Comments

Reply

If you (or some accessibility-minded organization) wanted to take a more litigious approach, you (or they) could probably bring a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

But correctly using and “id” attributes is so easy it boggles the mind why Indigogo and Patreon don’t do so, especially once it’s been pointed out to them.

As a web development professional, it bugs the **** out of me that such unprofessional HTML makes it into production on such well-known web sites.

John Pisello; . Permalink
In response to John Pisello. Reply

This failure does not fall just on the developers. It falls on the design team for not including persistent labels in the design, on dev ops for not including automated accessibility checkers in the build and deploy process, on QA for not testing the labels at the most basic level, on UX for not testing the design or prototypes with users, on management for not mandating a process to include any of this. Everybody in the chain is responsible.

Reply

Nice work, Adrian. Found your article on the Frontend Focus newsletter, btw.

Sorry if I missed this – read twice. So what is the solution/fix?… What is your recommendation to coding form labels & fields better in order to increase the likelihood of a browser’s autocomplete functionality assisting users?

Shane S; . Permalink
In response to Shane S. Reply

Shane, in the section A Single Element Fix I say that correctly using <label> is all that is needed — correctly because Indiegogo uses <label>, but uses it incorrectly. That means it needs a for attribute that matches the id attribute on the corresponding field (WAI tutorial). In most cases, both attributes are missing, and in two cases they are duplicated.

While Indiegogo could wrap the visible text and the field in the same <label>, the lack of unique id contributes to the auto-complete issue about which you are asking. Indiegogo could address that issue with proper use of the autocomplete attribute.

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