What You Need To Know About Website Compliance


Here's what you need to know about website compliance.

  1. The word “compliant” is ambiguous. It could me your website is mobile compatible. It could mean your website passes the W3C validator. It could mean your website is WCAG 2.0 AA compliant (yes, that's a doozy, I'll explain it further down). Or it could mean it's SEO and security compliant.
  2. Obviously websites need to be mobile compatible as most internet usage is on mobiles. To make a website mobile compliant all you need to do is build it with a responsive framework like Bootstrap or Foundation.
  3. W3C validation means your website complies with World Wide Web Consortium validator. This is somewhat of a theoretical standard as browsers will display websites that don’t pass this standard by a long shot.  So why do it? To ensure your website is maximised for search engine optimisation on Google. Although if you get into the SEO game you will soon learn that quality content and quality backlinks count an order of magnitude more than fulfilling the validator. We rank near number one for the term Umbraco Developer Melbourne but our website fails this validator miserably (as of July 2015, new site coming soon by the way).
  4. WCAG 2.0 AA compliance goes several steps beyond W3C validation. Its purpose is to ensure websites satisfy stringent accessibility criteria so users that are visually impaired, are color blinds or are limited to using a mouse or keyboard can still use your website.
  5. WCAG 2.0 AA compliance is impossible to achieve without software. The standard is simply too complicated to enact. We use http://fae20.cita.illinois.edu/ to do this checking as its approved by the W3C.
  6. Just because you have WCAG 2.0 AA compliance today doesn’t mean you will have it tomorrow. The validator at http://fae20.cita.illinois.edu/ changes from time to time and it is very unlikely that what passes today will pass this time next year.
  7. If you really care about WCAG 2.0 AA compliance you will check that people with various disabilities can physically use your website. Even the best validation tools can’t reproduce the action of a real live user. There’s a great podcast about this on Scott Hanelman’s blog
  8. If you are interested in any type of website compliance you need to know this before you start building a website. It’s about 2-3 times the price to make a site compliant after it has been built.
  9. Governments often require the back ends of websites to pass WCAG 2.0 AA as their departments may have impaired staff who need to use the content management system (CMS) to update the site. This requirement may strongly influence your choice of CMS as a lot of them do not pass WCAG 2.0 AA.
  10. If a contract requires a website to be compliant make sure you know how user acceptance testing will be done. Realistically you need to define the software tools that will be used to check compliance. Most tools conflict so compliance by one set of tools may not mean compliance by another set of tools. Some of these tools cost money and may add to the cost of the build.
  11. Many mobile frameworks such as Bootstrap and Foundation are not going to pass validation without tweaks by a developer. In some cases, you may need to use manual adaptive css to achieve 100% compliance.
  12. Website compliance does not means security compliance. If your website conducts E-commerce operations or captures users’ data that needs to be protected you should audit the site with tools such as Netsparker or Acuneix. As with standard validation, it will cost a half to a third of the price to build in this compliance if it’s done from the get go rather than retro fitting it.