Business case: Implementing QA rules
By putting the user at the centre of a cohesive digital strategy, one with solid social and environmental objectives, you can increase the confidence and trust of your users while strengthening your brand image and seeing a multifold return on investment. In doing so, your higher-quality digital and web products and services will contribute towards making a web that is more acceptable and accessible to a greater number of people while also reducing your digital compliance issues and risks.
The core mission of Opquast and its community is “Making the web better, for everyone” through our trainings and the sharing of our community consensus resources. Opquast publishes an extensive set of open-source web quality rules covering eight interrelated disciplines: accessibility, UX, performance, privacy, SEO, security, e-business, and eco-design. These QA (quality assurance) rules, also available as a checklist, address the key risks and concerns that affect website and digital application users. Implementing QA rules will make a significant contribution to sustainability and compliance strategies while creating more inclusive and better digital experiences for all users, assuring their integrity and trust.
A closer look at 4 critical global digital compliance risks and concerns
- Accessibility – Opquasts’ 126 accessibility rules cover the main accessibility errors which ‘WebAIMs’ yearly analysis identified as affecting 98.1% of the top 1,000,000 home pages. In a report published by Accessibility.com, it was estimated that 265,000 website accessibility demand letters were sent to businesses, resulting in U.S. companies spending billions of dollars in legal costs in 2020 alone, as a direct result of inaccessible websites. (Source: BOIA)
- Privacy – Since 2018, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) applies to every company that deals with EU citizens, and the concern about privacy continues to grow all around the world. Opquast provides 23 privacy rules rules to prevent the most abundant risks and infringements to users’ personal data.
- Security– In 2020, according to govtech.com, there was a 141% increase in compromised records from data breaches compared to 2019, with the average cost of a data breach sitting at $3.86 million as of 2020. (Source: IBM). Opquast covers 19 security rules to help avoid these risks.
- Eco-design and digital sobriety – Digital energy consumption is now accounting for 1.8-3.7% of all carbon emissions (according to the measurement/study approach). Opquast covers 35 eco-design rules to make the web more energy efficient and to increase the usability and sobriety of the user experience.
What are the business benefits?
- Increase trust – Opquast’s QA rules are user-focused but they also have a societal and environmental impact as mentioned above. Eco-design, inclusion, and accessibility are central themes. The Fulfillment Lab listed a study by IBM which states that “79% of Millennials cite sustainability as important to them when making a purchase compared to 75% of Gen Z”. Furthermore, “75% of Millennials are willing to pay more for great customer experiences compared to 69% of Gen Z”.
- Increase customer confidence by reducing security and and privacy risks (see above).
- Improve foundations for digital transformation – Create solid foundations by increasing cross-disciplinary skills and collaboration. Opquast’s rules bring together multidisciplinary teams with the common goal of customer quality. “63% of people who are in a digital transformation process say that culture is the number one barrier….56% stated cross-department collaboration as their 3rd largest challenge.” Altimeter & Capgemini study. The Opquast training is a chance for multidisciplinary teams to deepen their collaboration and digital culture further.
- Empower staff as ‘quality custodians’ of your customer-facing digital assets. Get key roles in your organisation to take ownership of the quality of the user experience by allocating quality rules to them.
- Reduce costs – Quality assurance is about avoiding critical errors upstream. Robert Pressman’s book, 1992 Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach proposes a formula that states that errors that could be solved in design for $1 becomes $6 costs at coding, $15 costs at testing and $60–$100 costs after product release. While these figures are estimated and will vary greatly the avoidance of errors upstream with QA does result in significant cost savings as well as fewer live errors.
What is the ROI (return on investment)?
The QA rules, by nature of their cross-disciplinarity, can introduce a chain of positive reactions, which can be difficult to measure directly due to the multiplicity of potential causes. Sometimes it is clear what causes improved metrics or increased profits; other times it is less so, due to that chain of synergies. Consider the example of how implementing a more reserved and accessible design relates to effective eco-design and, potentially, better usability, and ultimately how that can increase page performance, which in turn will improve your SEO. We give a few examples below where it is easier to measure the ROI directly.
- Aggregated SEO improvements with multiple quality touch-points – Opquast covers 37 direct SEO rules, along with QA rules for performance, accessibility, and security. All of these QA rules can help improve your SEO with regards to Google SEO algorithms because their algorithms have been linked to multiple web quality parameters such as performance, accessibility, and security rules. According to Ahrefs, 90.63% is the percentage of pages that get no organic search traffic from Google. (Ahrefs)
- Increased sales – Missed information equals missed opportunities. “You can increase sales on your site by as much as 225% by providing sufficient product information to your customers at the right time.” (User Interface Engineering, 2001). Implement Opquast rule 38: “The nature and quantifiable characteristics of the products and services are indicated.” Poor product information will also negatively affect SEO due to Google bots assessing products to match users’ data and previous viewing activity.
- Improved web and mobile performance – 13 essential performance rules to help with performance issues. Such issues can frustrate users and, in turn, increase your bounce rate and hurt your page rankings. Google research shows that while over 50% of web traffic is mobile, mobile sites take an average of 15 seconds to load and 53% of users will leave before 3 seconds.
- Extend your captive audience with improved inclusion and accessibility – One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, according to Worldbank.org.
Why should I trust the Opquast web quality assurance rules?
The 240 Opquast web QA rules are defined and agreed upon by an extensive community of over 13,000 web professionals and academics. These web QA rules started as a list of best practices 20 years ago and have since been revised every five years. The rules have been tried and tested via millions of web interactions by Opquast community’s customers, including the leading CMS (Content Management System) communities which have developed plugins for WordPress, Drupal and Prestashop.
The Opquast team includes Elie Sloïm and Laurent Denis. Both have published books on web quality as well as on leading French national standards for accessibility such as the RGAA (Référentiel Général d’Amélioration de l’Accessibilité). In addition, they have published many open lists for usability, open data, ecodesign, etc.
How do I implement the quality assurance rules?
The rules should be applied to your projects from the design phase through to post-implementation , and they should be understood by all professionals with web and customer experience (CX) responsibilities, from strategy to operations, marketers to project managers, and editorial to technical staff. The Opquast QA rules take the form of a checklist which can be applied at each project phase, though the rules are best to be ingrained within each member of the project.
The majority of the quality rules cannot be automated so having a quality assurance dedicated resource is becoming increasingly common amongst organisations, this has the added advantage of releasing UX professionals and web designers to focus on their core functions. The certification (link below) focuses on bringing teams together towards the common goals centred around user quality; it aims at creating quality reflexes and empathy of the user contexts, something relevant for all web project resources. As a human focused system, Opquast QA rules complement all broader quality management systems and quality control procedures.
For more background and considerations please see Elie Sloïm’s article in smashing magazine.
Download the checklist, check out our training
Go on, download the list. We know you want to 😉
Each rule has individual technical sheets and the rules can be searched by project phase or various topics: e-commerce, data-privacy, internationalization, security, code, etc, or by themes: accessibility, SEO, mobile, privacy, and ecodesign. The complete checklist is available on a creative commons license BY-SA.
These foundational web quality rules are also at the core of the Opquast certification, ‘Mastering Web Quality Assurance’, (link at the bottom).
If you identify with our mission and want to support it, please forward this page to your colleagues, your HR Representative or your training manager. It is the certification, detailed below, which funds Opquasts’ activities and the community support.
Opquast’s ‘Mastering Web Quality Assurance’
Opquast training has already allowed over 13,000 web professionals to have their skills certified.