Working with Siteimprove
Siteimprove is an external service used to monitor the quality of Lancaster web content, focusing on spelling, links and standard usage of language, plus issues affecting accessibility, SEO, and site performance.
This page offers a brief overview of Siteimprove's core functions. More detailed tutorials are available at the Siteimprove website.
Lancaster University has one Siteimprove account, covering the 'core' institutional website and three Faculties. These pages have been subdivided into groups, corresponding to subject areas/departments, for ease of maintenance.
Log in at https://my.siteimprove.com/.
The view defaults to the Quality Assurance (QA) Overview page for the entire Lancaster account.
To see information about a subsection of the Lancaster site, click 'No group selected' in the pale grey bar beneath the turquoise page header and choose from the dropdown menu.
Consider the summary information, then click on the numbers in either of the large circles to investigate broken links or misspellings. 'Links' and 'Spelling' are also options in the menu on the left of the page.
Alternatively, click on 'View all' in the 'Priority Pages' panel on the right to explore all issues for "pages where corrections will have the most positive effect for your users".
The 'Priority Pages', 'Pages with Broken Links' and 'Pages with Misspellings/Potential Misspellings' pages have the same basic layout, showing a list of pages requiring attention.
Click on an entry in the list to open a Page Report showing an annotated copy of the published page on the right and a list of issues on the left. Click on an issue on the left to have it highlighted on the right, and to open a submenu of potential actions.
A misspelling or potential misspelling will offer:
- A list of suggested corrections. One may have been highlighted by an admin or other editor as recommended.
- The option to add a further suggestion.
- Three ways to indicate that, if appropriate, a word will not be 'corrected':
- Add to dictionary - if the 'misspelling' is actually correct, in all contexts.
- Ignore on this page - if a 'misspelling' is correct in this context, but remains incorrect for general usage.
- Ignore on all pages - if a 'misspelling' is non-standard in general usage, but accepted terminology within the context of the page's subject. Non-English words and personal/company names might also fit this category.
It's likely that 'Ignore on this page' will be used most frequently.
The entire University Siteimprove account shares a single word list, so it's important to avoid marking a spelling as universally acceptable if it's only applicable to a single area of the University. For example, the Centre for Organizational Health and Well-Being uses 'organizational', but the University's house style is to use 'organisational' everywhere else.
Note that 'misspelling' includes miscapitalisation, omission of accented characters, non-standard hyphenation and non-compliance with 'house style'. The intention is to improve consistency of usage across the Lancaster web presence, rather than solely to correct unambiguous errors.
There are only two responses to an apparently broken link:
- Correct it (via the Site Manager CMS, not Siteimprove).
- Mark it 'Ignore on all pages'.
It's always best to check a link in the published page, as it's possible Siteimprove encountered a temporary error or the link was inaccessible to Siteimprove's software; perhaps the link, actually functioning correctly, simply required a login.
Siteimprove merely identifies potential errors, which then need to be corrected within the Site Manager CMS.
Either visit the appropriate section via the normal CMS interface, or click the 'CMS' button at the top of the Page Report page as a shortcut to the same location. Unfortunately, this shortcut does not (yet) work for all page layouts.
Siteimprove automatically rechecks the Lancaster website every few days.
However, once errors are corrected or marked as ignored, and the page has been republished and transferred to www.lancaster.ac.uk, it's possible to manually prompt Siteimprove to recheck the individual page immediately, by clicking the 'Recheck page' button at the top of each Page Report. This process should take a couple of minutes.
In addition to spelling errors, Siteimprove can report on correctly-spelled usages which do not comply with best-practice (eg links should not be indicated as 'click here') or the University's 'house style' (eg never abbreviate 'Professor' to 'Prof'). It can also highlight obsolete usages (eg IEED has been renamed 'ESI') and any other issues we wish to check on each page (eg images should not exceed 1Mb in file size).
If applicable, these are itemised on the 'Policy' tab of each Page Report. Unfortunately, it is necessary to deliberately visit the 'Policy' tab to find out whether anything needs to be amended – the interface does not prompt the user to do so.
Accessibility and SEO issues
Siteimprove also reports on each page's compliance with international accessibility standards, and on issues potentially affecting the page's search engine ranking. However, these topics are outside the scope of this brief guide.