QA Isn’t Just for IT: How to Manage Your Site’s Technical Needs and Get Back to Marketing
In a constantly changing marketplace that hinges on a high-performance website, every decision feels pivotal. Digital tools have increased the reach of your marketing effort, but you’re overwhelmed by the many details needing attention on a day-to-day basis.
Site security, CMS updates, and automation systems updates compete for your attention. How will your site’s SEO ranking be impacted by Core Web Vitals? Should you dedicate your budget to a new CX platform, or do you need a better hosting service?
Marketers have resources at their disposal that would have been unimaginable 15 years ago. But a time when you should be living the dream, the demands of modern marketing can feel like a nightmare. However, by adopting a strong quality assurance (QA) testing practice for site improvements, you can move at the pace of digital while reducing the likelihood of errors and other oversights that may be damaging to your business.
Focal Points for Incorporating QA into Your Marketing Process
With so many tools and technologies to manage, it’s no wonder many CMOs feel like they’ve also become CTOs. QA may be similarly associated with backend development and software launches, but you should apply the same principles to streamline your digital marketing.
Business simply moves too quickly for you to view your organization’s website as a project you update every few years. Fall behind with maintenance, support, or general upkeep, and you’re placing your site’s health at risk. QA allows you to mitigate that risk across three key areas:
- Performance: An inefficient or out-of-date site that loads slowly provides a poor experience to your users. Worse yet, thanks to Google’s Core Web Vitals, your site’s performance now impacts your search engine rankings. Your marketing success depends on maintaining a fast website that remains easy to find through SEO efforts.
- Security & Compliance: Along with protecting your company’s data and its customer information, you need to manage regulatory demands of your business. For example, websites for state organizations must meet the highest accessibility standards, and financial institutions face regulatory demands for monitoring transaction information.
- Credibility: Customers don’t care how complicated your site is to manage. Instead, they simply view an effective website as proof that your organization is credible and cares about its customers. If your users have an experience marked by slow load times, inaccessible information, or broken links, that will reflect poorly on your business.
QA Tools to Protect Your Site’s Health and User Experience
“Move fast and break things” are words to live by in startup culture, but it’s a risky philosophy when it comes to digital marketing. By implementing a few crucial QA strategies, your team can operate at the pace you need without exposing your organization to risk.
Verify Your Site’s Code With Visual Regression Testing
If your organization’s site includes hundreds or even thousands of pages, a seemingly small change in code can have far-reaching effects. Implementing visual regression testing acts as a safeguard against breaking your site in unexpected ways when you launch new features or site updates.
When you’re deploying a new site feature, Diffy allows you to visually compare how it will look on your staging and production sites. Diffy highlights what will change so you can verify the results match your expectations.
Part of the Pantheon WebOps platform, the Autopilot plugin allows you to automate CMS and plugin updates on a duplicate version of your site. Once complete, you can verify whether the changes introduced any errors before deployment.
Incorporate the Latest Best Practices for Your Site with Core Web Vitals
Google’s Core Web Vitals keeps marketers up at night by drawing a direct connection between your site’s performance and its search rankings. Plus, Core Web Vitals standards change, which means you need to consistently ensure your site is keeping up with Google’s metrics for best practices, SEO, and accessibility.
Google’s web.dev tool can generate a report on your site to identify issues that will impact your search performance. Browser plugins such as PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse enable you to further test your site on a page-by-page basis.
You should also consider automating Core Web Vitals reports as part of your deployment process, which will verify how site changes will impact your score before you push them live.
Monitor and Update SEO Results
You can’t overstate the critical role SEO plays for your business. Search ranking impacts your customer’s ability to find your business. Miss a shift to an algorithm or drop the ball on a best practice and your website may become effectively invisible.
Semrush’s Site Audit will scan your site and identify issues impacting SEO performance. Site Audit also allows you to categorize and assign specific problem areas, depending on whether they can be resolved by your marketing or IT teams.
If your company uses WordPress, the Yoast SEO Premium plugin enables site editors to scan new content for its readability and apply tips to improve its search performance. Incorporating SEO best practices before publication will protect your site’s ranking and preserve its long-term health.
Serve Your Business with Accessibility and ADA Compliance
Millions of people have different physical capabilities that impact how they access the web. If your site doesn’t conform to the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), you’re risking potential legal action. Just as importantly, you’re limiting the audience for your website.
Ensuring your site continues to offer an inclusive experience is simply the right thing to do. Accessibility best practices have already been incorporated into Core Web Vitals, and tools like Siteimprove and Tenon.io identify problem areas with your site’s appearance and code. At the browser level, Axe and Siteimprove allow you to analyze your site’s accessibility on a page-by-page basis.
Sweat the Small Stuff to Minimize Errors and Create a Positive User Experience
Combatting misspellings and broken links can be a nightmare. When you’re in charge of your company’s site, there’s no worse feeling than when a customer points out a typo.
Integrity will crawl your site and identify broken links. Created by the same company, Scrutiny also scans for broken links along with spelling and grammatical mistakes. With so many details to manage, you can use these tools to prevent a minor error from completely undermining your credibility.
How to Implement a QA Process into Your Marketing
As a marketer, your job is already complicated. Your ability to incorporate QA practices into your day-to-day responsibilities will depend on your organization.
Some of these tools are fairly do-it-yourself operations that allow you to test pages or generate reports from software platforms. Your site’s performance, SEO, and security may occupy different priority levels for your business, and you can adopt new processes accordingly. Maybe some QA methods can be automated. Or maybe QA can be as simple as a shared document that outlines what everyone should do before publishing content or launching a new site feature.
Sometimes the best option is to hire someone who can help. At COLAB, we’re well versed in empowering marketers to start thinking about their digital marketing in a new way. An effective QA process can free you and your team from technical burdens and get you back to marketing. Contact us if this sounds like a process that will work for you.