Marketers, Move Fast Without Breaking Your Website

Ralph Otto author photo
Ralph Otto Director of Product

Marketers who make website updates are all too familiar with the unintended consequences those updates can have: links break, pages slow down, SEO opportunities are missed, and more. But following quality assurance (QA) best practices can help marketers manage the underlying conflict between moving at the speed of marketing and the security/stability of their website. At COLAB, we use a number of QA testing tools to maintain quality on client websites, while rapidly iterating and deploying new features.

Eddie O’Leary, COLAB’s president, discussed a number of our favorite QA testing technologies in his presentation, Move Fast Without Breaking Things, at Pantheon’s Digital Summit 2021. Below are some of our favorite QA tools, which any marketer can use to help them move fast without breaking their website.

Website QA Testing Resources

Visual Regression

Visual regression testing captures a “before and after” image for programmatic comparison. With this test, you can avoid breaking your site visually with a deployment. We use the following tools to ensure no visual errors are presented to website visitors.

  • Diffy: tool to compare environments and avoid unintended consequences in the live environment
  • Pantheon’s Autopilot: tool built in to Pantheon allowing you to set and forget software updates using visual regression testing as a safety net

Core Web Vitals

This measurement was create by Google to programmatically evaluate the user experience of a website. This was to push website owners to create faster, better experiences for visitors.

Accessibility/ADA Compliance/Section 508

With a large percentage of the adult population living with a disability, sharing an accessible website with visitors can be a big win for your organization. There is a strong argument for inclusivity, legal protection, and expansion of your audience. Use these QA testing technologies to remain compliant.

  • SiteImprove: automated accessibility as well as site quality; high price tag, but is a reputation leader in the accessibility community.
  • Tenon: less robust but great for accessibility scanning and CI/CD integration
  • Browser extensions
    • SiteImprove: standalone single page scanner to debug accessibility issues
    • Deque’s axe DevTools: standalone page scanner similar to SiteImprove extension; provides an alternate perspective on similar issues

SEO Tools

If you’re producing content on your website you want to make sure you’re on top of your technical SEO. Measuring this on a regular basis will ensure that you continue to grow organically and avoid pitfalls.

  • Semrush: do-it-all tool that allows you to measure and track a huge number of SEO/SEM metrics
  • Yoast SEO Premium: paid version of the free WordPress plugin that helps with on-page SEO and honing content

Catching the Small Stuff

Even basic QA testing tools can help your organization avoid embarrassment, missed opportunities, or wasted time spent fielding customer questions.

  • Integrity: free tool that runs on your computer and scans for broken links
  • Scrutiny: Integrity’s oldest sibling and more fully featured; an inexpensive tool that runs on your computer and scans for broken links, spelling, grammar, SEO, HTTPs check, page speed, etc.

So many more tools for QA testing…

The following examples are more nuanced to implement and generally rely on a technical partner, but are well worth the effort:

  • Static Code Analysis: analyze code for maintainability, efficiency, and vulnerabilities to name a few
  • Load Testing: pressure test your infrastructure to ensure it can handle traffic bursts (a must have for event sites and e-commerce)
  • Automatic Image Optimization: reduce image file size with automatic compression tools
  • Error Reporting: get reports and alerts to debug website issues
  • Application Performance Testing: understand how efficient and scalable your code is including opportunities for improvements and breaking points

Pantheon’s Quality Assurance

The Pantheon platform has many quality controls built in and documented. You simply need to take advantage of them.

  • Multidev: create different environments to iterate new features
  • WebOps Workflow: deployment process as well as easy to use tools for replication of databases and files between environments
  • New Relic: measure application performance in realtime
  • Continuous Integration (CI/CD): implement automatic tasks and checks triggered by deployment
  • Autopilot: visual-regression-tested software updates

Need Help?

Let us know if you need help implementing a QA testing program or simply want to evaluate your current practices.