As digital marketers tasked with overseeing and auditing their websites, we all face similar challenges and questions. Is the button used correctly? Is the content linked properly? Is the image marked as decorative? Can the call-to-action be more descriptive? The list goes on and on.

Implementing the right tools and a proven process are vital, yet this implementation can be bumpy, especially when you start a new a quality control method to govern your website. So, how do you remove the challenges of these monumental asks?

To provide clarity, we sat down with Katrina Powell, Principal Digital Marketing Specialist at SAS Institute, Inc., who focuses on digital compliance for SAS’ global web properties. In addition to her role at SAS, Katrina is also the Director of Communications and Marketing at the Raleigh Triangle User Experience (UXPA) Association.

Here are her five key tips to consider.

1. Establish a framework

Before starting a new quality control process, make sure your web governance strategy or framework is established, documented, and made available to your entire organization. Your framework should focus on core principles, set by executive leadership, which influence your online strategy and steer the creation of your web policies and standards. Your policies should be high-level and help define your website, while the standards provide detail on how your web properties will be managed.

A documented framework helps:

• You clearly recognize what is and isn't an error, based on the established guidelines.

• If misalignment exists, you can easily reference back to the web framework for clarification and guidance.

• You explain compliance violations and why immediate corrections are important.

2. Don’t hide the documentation

Leverage internal software or an external program for a fee.

Use a content management system (CMS) to help with the documentation process.

The CMS you choose should support style guides, governance standards, accessibility efforts and more for your web properties. Your entire organization should also have access to a "Web Governance site" to guide web management and page creation.

3. Make quality control a priority

Quality control means catching errors, like broken links, misspellings, or design/functionality issues, before the webpage is made live externally.

These checks are important to conduct in order to ensure that the end-user gets the best web experience on your site.

Without a quality control check, the website’s search engine optimization (SEO) decreases, the bounce rate will increase, and the company’s brand will diminish. In addition, the user experience and usability of a site suffers without quality control.

4. Manual, automated or a combination?

Select the process of governance that makes the most sense for you, your teams, and your company.

Governance will always include some manual review, but the extent and balance depend upon what works best for you.

Manual checks include navigating through each webpage to test its functionality. This includes clicking on every link and menu, reviewing every image and more.

Manual checks are necessary because there's no way to fully imitate human interaction with a webpage. Also, there are many situations where you need physical "eyes on the page" to review certain web functionality and brand compliance.

A manual review also catches items sometimes missed by automated tools.

Your manual web page review should happen pre-external launch, in three ways:

Web page compliance review. A formal review of each new webpage conducted by UX subject matter experts (SME) before external launch. This should include a physical web checklist which contains a review of all elements of the webpage - from images and page layout to links and accessibility. All aspects are evaluated and approved by the SME in this pre-external launch discussion.

Global governance health check. As an organization, identify which high-level and priority pages undergo an ongoing quality assurance review. These pages typically have higher traffic and visibility, like the homepage. These webpages are evaluated monthly against the governance style guides and checked for global content adoption and compliance.

Accessibility evaluation. Keyboard-only tasks are performed, as well as interpreting the page with a screen reader. These checks help indicate what problems need to be addressed in order to be compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Now let’s look at automated governance. The benefits here include:

• Having a web governance tool in place to crawl your site and check for errors like misspellings, broken links and accessibility compliance is an accurate, time-saving, user-friendly option.

• There are several automation tools available that perform these types of automated checks. Some are free or are offered for free. At SAS, our automated tool of preference for governing our global corporate websites is Siteimprove.

5. Quality assurance and accessibility assessment

We use Siteimprove (SI) modules to quickly identify where errors are and provide guidance on how to make corrections. It also can run an instant quality assurance and accessibility check on a webpage, so errors can be addressed early-on.

In addition, we use:

• Weekly reports. SI keeps tabs on our webpages, and provides a weekly report delivered to my inbox. I can simply review the reports or view the errors in SI and make changes in our CMS. With just a quick click of the ‘Deeplinking button’ in SI, I am brought to the exact page in our CMS that has the error, so I can easily correct the mistake.

• Policies. As new policies and best practices are created, I enter them in SI's Policy Module so these new policies can be applied to all webpages sitewide. I get an alert in the module if a violation occurs, which helps ensure that our web framework is being consistently governed across all 56 SAS global websites.

The solution also can run an instant quality assurance and accessibility check on a webpage, so errors can be addressed early-on.

Tools in tandem

Implementing a quality assurance process for your website should not be stressful, but rather give you the peace of mind that all of your digital properties follow your web governance framework. Using manual and automated tools in tandem can help cover more ground and allow you to govern with confidence. Quality control is a marathon and not a sprint, but the long-term commitment is well worth the effort.