Nov
2
2016

What to check before a QA

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When performing Quality Assurance checks on new EdWeb sites, I frequently encounter the same issues that need correcting. If you have a site set to go through QA, this post lists common problem areas to avoid.

All new root-level EdWeb sites must pass a Quality Assurance check before site owners can be granted publishing rights. The QA mainly involves checking to see if your site meets basic Writing for the Web and accessibility principles. Any problem areas must be fixed before a new site can go live.

Headings must go in order

Problem area: I often see sites using headings for styling, either starting with H3 because they prefer the size of it or using a smaller heading size on a sentence to make it stand out.

Headings are not meant to be used for styling, but are meant to break up your page into sub-topics that help users find the information they are looking for.

Users with screen readers rely on headings to skim a page’s content, so improper use of headings can make navigating through your site more difficult.

How to correct: All EdWeb pages start with an H1 title, so all headings on a page should start with H2. If the H2 heading has any subheadings, these should be H3, and so on.

Search engines read your headings as being the most important content or keywords on your page, so clear headings can make your page easier to find in search results.

Use separated links

Problem area: Sites will have inline links, where links are created within the paragraph of text.

inline links

Inline links are hard to scan down a page. Use separated links instead.

We do not recommend the use of inline links as it makes a page harder to read, and it’s often difficult to write meaningful link text for them.

How to fix: Create separated links by placing each link on a separate line below a relevant paragraph. This will make the links easier for users to scan down the page.

Meaningful link text

Problem area: Link text will be vague phrases like ‘Click here’ and ‘More information’.

These phrases aren’t helpful to users scanning your pages to find the next link on their journey, and they’re especially not helpful for users with screen readers. Users shouldn’t have to read the corresponding paragraph to find out where the link will take them.

How to fix: Your link text should correspond to the title of the page you’re linking to. It should also let users know if it opens up a new application (like a PDF) or leaves your website.

Having link text

Problem area: Whole URL paths are pasted directly on the page with no link text at all for them.

Pasted URLs look unprofessional. Give them link text.

Pasted URLs look unprofessional. Give them link text.

A pasted URL makes it difficult for users to understand where the link will take them. More importantly, though, it looks unprofessional.

How to fix: Create meaningful link text (see above) and paste the URL into Linkit, either as an external or internal link where appropriate.

Adding an internal link

Adding an external link

Readable URLs

Problem area: URL paths contain hard-to-understand abbreviations. For example, www.ed.ac.uk/uwp/training-sup/courses/wftw

Both readers and robots don’t know what to expect from that link.

How to fix: URLs should contain readable, whole words.

A better version of the above URL is: www.ed.ac.uk/website-programme/training-support/courses/web-writing

Changing URLs

Meaningful summary sentences

Problem area: Summaries are often a copy of the page title.

Not only does that not give the reader an idea of what’s on your page, but it looks unprofessional to have your title directed repeated below it.

How to fix: Write a meaning full summary that briefly explains what users can find on your page.

You might think, “Well, my How to Apply page is about how to apply”, but use the summary to give an overview about what they’ll find on the page more specifically. Let your summary sentence answer the main takeaway point of the page.

QA template

If your site is set for QA, have a look at the full template we use to check through your site. This will give you an idea of the other areas we will be checking over that may need correcting. You can find the template listed under Step 4 of the Request a new site wiki page.

QA template on Brand new EdWeb site wiki page

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Email Website Support

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