Beyond its design and interaction, the accessibility of a website depends on the quality of its content.
Princeton provides two tools for content quality assurance:
- The Editoria11y plugin, which is integrated into content editing tools to provide instant feedback for content editors
- The DubBot website monitoring service, described below, that automatically checks sites for key issues related to accessibility, including image alt text, content structure, broken links and spelling errors
Website Accessibility Monitoring
This service checks websites four times a year for common issues. Website owners receive a summary report after each check, and can log in at any time to a dashboard that shows each issue in context in the page, and provides various tools to help find, understand and fix these issues.
Screens & Tasks
- 0:00 Dashboard
- 0:41 Lists of issues
- 0:58 See issue on page
- 1:39 A false positive
- 1:55 Fixing issues
- 3:57 Assigning tasks
- 5:11 Getting help
- 5:59 Switching sites
Introduction to the interface
- Click on the number of issues to view a list of these issues broken out by type; e.g., to view all the misspellings on the site.
- Click on the number of pages to view a list of pages that have this type of issue; e.g, to get a list of pages with broken links on them.
- The "Overall Site Score" tile has buttons to view all pages and documents. Note: this may not be all pages that exist; our default is to crawl the first ~500 pages, and to exclude old news/events and things like author or category list pages.
The "Quick Wins" panel shows you pages with the most issues, if you just want to tackle some pages immediately without reviewing the whole issue list:
This page is a large, filterable table of all the pages and issues in the site. Most links on the dashboard lead here and enable a filter.
Some key things you can do here:
- Click on a page title to view the issues on that page
- Click on the filter buttons at the top to narrow the view. For example, you can switch from viewing broken links to spelling errors, or choose to see only pages that contain one particular spelling error.
- When you have the filter panel open, you have the option of taking site-wide (bulk) actions, such as adding words to the dictionary or marking broken links you have just corrected as fixed (resolved):
This view shows you a snapshot of the page when it was last checked, and highlights issues in context.
The icon-tabs along the left include:
- Accessibility: issues that might block access to your content altogether; things like images missing a text alternative.
- Best practices: issues likely to confuse or annoy readers: headings skipping levels, WRITING IN CAPS LOCK, etc.
- Broken links
- Web governance: words, grammar and editorial style issues flagged for human review; e.g., terms which are perfectly appropriate in some contexts and not in others.
- SEO, Readability and Network, which are informational only.
- Tasks: to-do items you or a colleague created.
- Share: creates a public link that lets you send this view to colleagues without a login to the system, if you would like their help on a task.
At the top of the page are several action buttons:
- Crawl replaces the snapshot with a fresh copy of the page. This is useful if you are making corrections in another window and want to see your changes. It takes about one minute.
- Analyze is only useful if you have just marked some issues as "ignored" or "resolved" and do not want to wait a few minutes for the list to update itself automatically. It refreshes the list of issues immediately. Generally: click "crawl" instead.
- "View in..." is a shortcut to open your website's editor for this page, so you can get to work making some of the suggested changes.
- "Disable CSS" and "View:" let you turn off some or all of your site's visual design in the preview pane. Since the screenshot of the page does not have working buttons, you cannot open accordion panels, advance slideshows, toggle tabs or the like to locate broken links or other issues that are only visible after clicking a button. Switching to "Text only" or "CSS disabled" views basically pushes all the buttons and reveals all the content.
Once you understand an issue, you may want to do something about it!
If you fix the issue (perhaps by opening your website editor in another tab), you have three options for telling DubBot to stop telling you the issue exists:
- Do nothing and wait until the next time DubBot checks the page. This happens quarterly.
- Press the "Crawl" button on the page explorer, so DubBot re-checks the page immediately and takes the issue off the list, assuming your fix worked. This is often the best choice, since it confirms the fix worked.
- Mark the issue as Resolved. This marks it as fixed immediately; DubBot will delete the issue. Note that the issue will reappear on the next crawl if your fix did not work, or if the problem comes back (e.g., the link becomes broken again).
If you cannot fix the issue or it is not actually an issue (e.g., a link that requires login but should require login), you can tell DubBot to ignore the rule. For spellcheck, this takes the form of adding a word to a dictionary. Common times you may want to disable a rule on a page:
- "Ignore" a link to log in to an intranet; it will always throw an "authentication required" error, but this is OK.
- "Ignore" a flagged word that is always OK on this page or site.
- "Ignore" spelling on a page written in another language (once you confirm the language is tagged).
The tasks screen can be reached from the toolbar at the top each page.
Some groups will use this to manage their progress, assigning and completing tasks as they go.
For others, this will serve as quick way to flag things for their own follow-up.
Note that all users can assign tasks to John Jameson and Mary Albert; you are encouraged to do so to ask questions any time you are having trouble locating an issue in a page or understanding how to resolve it.
DubBot flags a link any time it has trouble reaching the destination page. This may not be a broken link: it may be a link behind a login, or a server that was down for a while but is back up again.
If the links work as intended, mark them as "ignored" to clear them from your issue list.
Common error codes you will see:
- 404: Almost certainly a bad link ("page not found" errors and redirect issues)
- 403: Page asked for a login; often these links are fine, but you may want to warn your site users that login is required.
- 400, 500: Various types of server errors; these may be temporary or not actually prevent the page from loading in a "real" browser; if it seems fine when you check it, it is probably OK.
Some pages and tiles have a vertical-ellipsis menu that offers ways to export the data.
Types of reports you may see offered:
- Trends: a simple chart of your progress over time.
- Issue Summary Report: a simple count of how many issues exist, without any specific details.
- Issue Detail Report: every occurrence of an issue. This can be useful to create sharable spreadsheets of particular issues; e.g., to have a team member without a DubBot login help fix broken links.
This task can be accomplished from either the "quick wins" panel on the homepage, or by clicking through any of the issue number tiles to view the main lists. Either way: click on the filter button ("Any Misspelling") to dive down to the lists of specific issues.
Look especially for three things:
- False positives that can be quickly cleared: words that can be added to the dictionary, links that are valid but just happen to require login, flagged words that are fine in this context, etc.
- Issues that are both urgent and easy to fix; e.g., a broken link on your homepage.
- Issues that are urgent but difficult to fix; these can be flagged as you go by assigning yourself (or a team member) a task or copying them into your project management system.
Assigning a task on a page to John Jameson will send him an email with a link to the issue in context. He can usually get back to you within a business day.
You can also send an email or Slack message to the campus accessibility community if you want help immediately.
Some people prefer to work by page, from most issues to fewest. Others prefer to focus on a particular issue ("it's broken links day").
Take your triaged list of issues or pages and figure out who and when should tackle them. For a small site, this might take one person less than an hour. For a large site, this might require many time blocks.
Regardless: know that opening a page, making changes, saving the page and checking your work, and then optionally having DubBot immediately re-crawl the page is going to take at least several minutes per page. Estimate your time accordingly, and try to tackle the most severe and/or prominent issues first.
Tasks are a great way to flag issues for follow-up. They can reference an issue or a page.
Once you have fixed an issue, either mark it as "resolved" or click "crawl" on the page in DubBot.
Clicking "crawl" sets the page to be rechecked in the background; after a minute or two you can refresh the screen to confirm your correction worked.