It seems a strange position to take ‘claim to make’ by Content Management Systems (CMS) providers when they claim they can achieve a level of website compliance. Fundamentally the CMS wasn’t designed to continually assess published content – or more so manage rules that need to be applied based on what has been published. The CMS limitations comes from being a repository of content assets, applied against a template to then publish a page, the end of the job for a CMS, but the starting points for an automated compliance, quality assessment service.
More so, those that claim ‘you can meet accessibility standards’ cannot really do a lot more than ensure that the technical build, templates and such are going to adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 - how can they for instance manage editorial staff, let alone train and support them on the standards. There are then the questions over content vs managing brand and corporate style. Your CMS simply wasn’t designed as a rule engine to management content standards – hence the need for external operating, yet invisibly integrated service such as Sitemorse.
Worse… vendor promises of compliance – it may actually not be in their best interest for you to have external, independent tests, checks and measures.
We’ve consistently found clients have not been able to achieve meaningful compliance without independent testing. The experience of a Web Development Manager at a UK local council is typical. The team invested in a new CMS, but knowing that it would only achieve only a certain level of compliance, enlisted the help of Sitemorse: “Although we knew the new CMS would get us to a certain level in terms of achieving our goals, we needed something else that could take us to the next stage. That was why we chose Sitemorse. The service covered all of our requirements in comparison to others in the market and from talking to some of the other authorities already using the service, it was clear they had very good pedigree.”
The main reason that the in-built assessment tools within a CMS aren’t up to scratch is the depth and breadth of the testing carried out when compared to an independent service like Sitemorse. Mike Carter, Sitemorse Product Manager, comments: “A CMS enables you to deliver a website, but it won’t tell you how big a page should be; it can’t stop you putting in broken links; it can’t stop you from having a bad design; they can’t force you to use meta data properly; and they can’t force you to add alt text and ensure it’s meaningful.”
To achieve legal, regulatory and internal brand compliance that meets defined publishing standards. Organisations may need a variety of tools and approaches, including manual testing. Your CMS can play its part – for example page templates, user prompts and even some in-built assessment tools can help – but when organisations use an independent service like Sitemorse, they find they are able to reduce the number of tools needed to assess compliance. Furthermore, most agree that automated testing solutions like Sitemorse help to maintain a far more consistently high level of site compliance and quality including accessibility.
The need for independent testing is particularly clear when new websites are being developed with strict criteria around quality control and assurance levels. When a service like Sitemorse is used to assess CMS templates in development, the rate of customer acceptance often increases when Sitemorse is used throughout the iterative project development cycles. Testing the actual content prior to launch also ensures the delivered website is compliant.
For example. when Blaby District Council developed a new website Sitemorse’s independent testing proved essential during the project. Blaby’s Communications Manager comments: “Sitemorse gave us ten out of ten for accessibility in the initial design stages then once those templates were deployed on to the system to make sure that they were still compliant. We then started to populate the pages and we ran all of those through Sitemorse too.”
After a site has launched, a key challenge is to constantly keep websites compliant and to keep making the improvements that can increase website performance and accessibility for a broad range of users. Agencies may deliver to their clients ‘perfect websites’, but they can soon deteriorate if they are not constantly monitored for compliance, and this is where independent, automated assessments proves to be far more efficient than manual testing, as well as the limitations of internal CMS tools.
Another advantage of an independent service like Sitemorse is the opportunity for benchmarking. Sitemorse is viewed as an independent benchmark by clients and organisations across various sectors, often being used as a KPI. Our INDEX is the longest running independent benchmark of websites. Sectors include Local and Central Government, UK Universities as well as many private sectors.
A long term Sitemorse client who has been with us since 2005 and recently reached the top 10 in the Sitemorse Local Government INDEX comments: “The improvement to our site is, we believe, the most significant ever recorded. We are, however, determined to continually improve our delivery of e-services and need to work hard to ensure that we maintain this high standard”.
Of course, one of the reasons why marketing teams like to run assessments from within their CMS is that it is convenient to just have one tool to go to. It can be inefficient to have to go to two different tools, one to add content and then make sure all the rules covering accessibility and brand have been followed. Recognising this, we have built Sitemorse so it can easily integrate with your CMS experience so you only have one place to go. Some clients have told us that seamless CMS and Sitemorse integration is their “secret content management weapon”. It is a highly effective way to drive digital efficiency and close the publishing loop all from one system; this gives you complete control over the content lifecycle and publishing process with automated testing on content before it goes live, as well as site recording so you can view all previous published content. Teams also love the fact that there is only one system to open, for example Bloomreach clients have the opportunity to experience the power of Sitemorse from within the CMS.
At its core your CMS vendor built your system to publish content. The additional tools bolted on to your platform will vary in quality and effectiveness. If you want best of breed assessment tools that will deliver compliance to your digital channels than an independent, automated tool like Sitemorse is your only realistic option. You cannot rely on your CMS or manual testing alone.
It shouldn’t be, and it isn’t (although one vendor was sending what we believe to be rather outlandish cost estimates) – in working with a modern platform typically you are up and running within half a day. The benefits are near immediate – what would a reduction in staff training and support by some 70% mean to you, with the bonus of errors reduced by 85% in a week?
All in under a couple of minutes, you can see how the integration can run, check the page pressed, and any actions will be highlighted, as demonstrated in this video below of Sitemorse working within Bloomreach.