Ensuring the Legal Quality of a Website: Testing for Rules and Regulations

Erin Hinnen Erin Hinnen
July 22, 2014
Web Strategy

Projects are complex. Between third party integration and compliance with rules and regulations, it is important for a QA resource to be aware of the latest and greatest best practices and guidelines surrounding specified project requirements. A client may request specific guidelines or compliances be put into practice for their website and it is up to the QA resource to research these guidelines and ensure that they are being followed during the alpha testing phase. So what are some commonly used regulations?

ADA Compliancy 

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses and nonprofit service providers make accessibility accommodations to enable the disabled public access to the same services as clients who are not disabled. Certain guidelines are required to comply with this law, such as adding hover text for all buttons and links. Another guideline is that all websites must have a “skip navigation” button to accommodate screen readers. It is important to make the client and overall team aware of any missing guidelines on the site. Testing for ADA Compliancy requires a very thorough eye; every link, file, and image must be checked for accuracy and any missing tool tips or tags must be reported to the development or content team to resolve.

The EU Cookie Law

Enacted in 2012 across the European Union, the EU Cookie Law is the e-Privacy Directive that states a website must receive informed consent from its visitors before storing information via a cookie in a visitor’s browser. This can be as simple as stashing away a subtle “Cookies” link during registration (Facebook) or as noticeable as adding a banner that scrolls with you on the page to offer you more information (Nintex). There are three main guidelines that must be followed for this law:

  • The site must inform users how the cookies are being used
  • The site must obtain the user’s consent to store the cookies
  • The site must give the user the ability to reject the cookie in some way

This very broad terminology means that most sites use implied consent to gain approval for cookies and normally offer verbiage surrounding how to turn off cookies in your browser as a way to “reject” the cookie.

Other Industry Standards

If a client is requesting integration with a third party site or compliance with a law or set of guidelines, there is always research to be done. Even a requirement as innocent sounding as “instagram integration” comes with its own sets of guidelines and rules. For example, a client requested we integrate Instagram into a component that they could add to a page. They had the ability to manage the instagram component’s title via their content management system, and they picked the title “Instagram @business”. This is against instagram’s API guidelines, which state “Do not combine any part of the Instagram brand with your name, marks, designs, or generic terms”. This means that although they were unaware of it, they were breaking instagram’s rules. In this case, while the QA resource is not expected to know these guidelines like the back of their hand, it is useful to be aware of the rules so that the client can be informed of any limitations they may encounter.

The quality of a website cannot truly be assured until a QA resource has reviewed all rules/regulations surrounding the site and verified that they are being met adequately. Whether it’s ADA compliancy, the EU Cookie Law, or third party integration, there is always more information for a QA resource to learn from and implement. At Roundedcube, we take all of the information we have learned and create a guidelines checklist that a QA resource can follow to ensure that your website is the best that it can be.

What rules and regulations have you encountered during a project and how do you ensure the guidelines are followed?

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