When is a website project done? It’s a question that seems simple, but is actually quite hard to answer. Criteria will differ between different site owners, development agencies, developers and QA professionals. Some may be satisfied with a function or site that is functional, while others will require a high-performance, accessible site with SEO-optimized content and the latest in security precautions.
But even if you know the priorities, developers and QA professionals need some benchmarks to go by. How quickly does the site have to load to consider it done? What accessibility score does it have to achieve to be considered done? What other checks does it need to pass to reach that level of done?
To get the answers to all these questions, you need a DoD – a Definition of Done.
In essence, the DoD is a list of actions that need to be performed and benchmarks that need to be reached before a project can be considered done. It’s a checklist to be followed to make sure that all aspects of the project are optimal for delivery. While this Definition of Done will, as mentioned, look different in different companies, here are the things we consider and check at Niteco before calling anything done. Of course, these steps would be taken after having assured the site’s overall functionality first – hence, we call it our non-functional DoD.
As we’ve said many times before, performance can make or break your site. Today’s web users have little patience for sites that take more than a few seconds to load – and they show their displeasure by leaving and never coming back. That’s why making sure your site reaches certain thresholds when it comes to performance is vital.
What tools to use and what numbers to strive for has to be set in the common Definition of Done. Let’s take Niteco’s DoD as an example. We use several different web performance testing tools, including SpeedCurve, Dareboost, and Google Page Speed. The metrics these tools use differ somewhat, so you’ll have to set specific thresholds for each individual tool.
As a reference, we aim to achieve a time under or equal to 0.4 seconds for First Byte and under or equal to 0.8 seconds for Start Render. For Dareboost, Improvements should be fewer than five, while Issues should be zero. In Google Page Speed, the Largest Contentful Paint should be achieved in a time under or equal to 2.5 seconds, while Time To Interactive should not exceed 3.6 seconds.
Ensuring accessibility means ensuring that all users, including those with disabilities or impairments, can access and benefit from your website. This entails, among many other things, full support for the use of assistive technologies and navigation options for those unable to use a standard mouse-based or mobile navigation.
Some of the most essential assistive technologies are screen readers. They allow those with visual impairments or reading/learning disabilities to consume content on a website by having it rendered as speech or braille output. To enable this, you need to make sure that any piece of visual content has a text alternative that can be read by the tool. Other technologies include screen magnifiers — which are used to magnify content on the screen to make it more easily understandable for those with some vision impairment and may also offer functions like color inversion — speech input software, head pointers, motion or eye tracking and single-switch entry devices.
The requirements for making a website accessible are listed in several checklists, most notably the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). As part of our DoD, Niteco makes sure that every website we create meets WCAG 2.1 AA requirements. To do that, a website needs to fulfill, among other requirements, the following:
- All image/video content has a text alternative
- Video/audio content is meaningfully consumable without image content
- Page relationships and sequences are clear and identifiable by assistive programs
- Instructions for use and action prompts aren’t based solely on visual cues
- Contrast is high and background colors don’t make text or buttons hard to read/discern
- Text can be resized without loss of functionality
- The site can be navigated solely through a keyboard or a pointer, without need for path-based gestures
- It doesn’t use flashes or other effects that may induce seizures
These are just a handful of the requirements of WCAG 2.1 AA, which we test manually as well as with a multitude of different tools, among them the Chrome extension Siteimprove or Dynomapper.
Last but not least in this non-functional DoD trio is SEO. Having a search engine-optimized site is absolutely vital whatever your business requirements are, so it’s not something that should be left for later.
The SEO requirements of Niteco’s Definition of Done are as high as those for the other categories:
- No duplicate, multiple or missing canonical tags
- A correct HTML sitemap
- A correct XML sitemap
- An image sitemap
- A correct robots.txt file
- Correctly formatted and assembled page titles for display on search result pages
To ensure that nothing is missed, Niteco’s QA professionals use a multitude of different tools to check for the SEO work’s status, including Screaming Frog, Dareboost, Ahrefs and Woorank. All factors have to achieve highest possible results.
Keeping up a Definition of Done
Only when all these factors meet the requirements set out in Niteco’s Definition of Done can a website we developed truly be seen as done. It’s a process that doesn’t just ensure that every website or application created in Niteco’s offices meets our high quality standards, it also firmly implants this quest for quality in everyone involved.
To follow and uphold a Definition of Done, it’s imperative that every aspect has a team or person firmly in charge. Fix a sheet with the respective responsibilities to the office wall or share it digitally — either way, make sure that everyone knows their job and receives their deserved accolades. This way, you can establish a process that will, after a few projects, turn into a central step of the development process.
If you want to know more about ensuring performance, accessibility and healthy SEO scores, or if you have a project you need to get Done, contact Niteco today.