website pages to administer
peer review time reduced
[DCI QA score achieved]
Founded at the start of the Internet Age in 1998, Akamai Technologies is now the largest content delivery network in the world, and top security provider stopping nearly 10 billion attacks in the last quarter alone. Leading companies worldwide choose Akamai to build, deliver, and secure their digital experiences—helping billions of people live, work, and play every day.
Akamai’s customers are market leaders across a wide range of industries, such as gaming, public sector, and financial services. This diverse spread of sectors means Akamai has its work cut out for them to provide a personalized digital experience for each of their user audiences.
So how does the company that powers and protects life online maintain their own digital content? We sat down with the Akamai team to peek behind the curtain and understand how their small but productive team is able to deliver high-quality, accessible brand experiences without draining resources.
The challenges of managing a massive digital estate
Believe it or not, a team of five (yes, five) web content publishers at Akamai manages over 2,000 pages translated in nine languages. The publishers are responsible for keeping Akamai’s digital assets error-free, up-to-date, and accessible. Leading the team is Skyler Frink, Senior Manager of Web Content Publishing.
To maintain quality, Skyler and his team utilize a peer review process—any time a publisher updates or builds a page, a different publisher will review it before it goes live. As a team, they create several hundred new pages a year and update more than a thousand pages a year. In addition to this, they also review the content created by self-authors from other teams. Because of the sheer volume of work, the team needed a way to cut down on the review time while still maintaining high-quality results.
The team was also embarking on its accessibility journey for a few reasons: They saw an opportunity to make major changes amidst a CMS migration to Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) in 2021; They recognized the impact accessibility has on SEO; And lastly, they wanted their website to live up to their brand promise to power and protect life online—regardless of what accommodations or tools their users might need to use while navigating their site. The publishers were committed to improve their Siteimprove Accessibility Score, but they didn’t have the expertise in-house to identify accessibility improvements and make key updates. Furthermore, was it possible for a small team to successfully maintain a large digital presence and ensure thousands of pages are always in top condition, all while building their knowledge of accessibility best practices and resolving issues without slowing down their entire production?
With over 2,000 pages translated in nine languages to oversee, the Akamai web content publishing team needed a tool that could handle multiple jobs—a tool that could help the small team effectively keep up with third-party links, cut down on 404 errors, and pave the way for seamless experiences for their extensive customer base.
Cutting the peer review process time by 50%
Skyler and his team must be nimble with their time so they don’t waste precious hours having to go back and fix issues they might have overlooked, which is why they’re committed to the peer review process they’ve established to avoid publishing content that will create problems further down the line.
Using Siteimprove Prepublish, the Akamai team can automatically scan content from within AEM for readability, misspellings, missing SEO metadata, 404 errors, color contrast and other accessibility issues, and more before it’s published. Automating these thorough content checks means the team catches more errors without leaving the CMS environment or having to manually scan the content and source code.
”I don’t think we’d be able to manage a site this large without Siteimprove Prepublish. We’ve cut our peer review process time in half using Prepublish to check every update and every new page before taking them live. And we plan to reduce that time even more.”
Senior Manager of Web Content Publishing at Akamai
With Siteimprove’s integrations with AEM, the team can further streamline their work. For example, unpublishing pages is just as nerve wracking as launching new pages, because one deleted page could cause errors on several other pages. Skyler and his team trust the Siteimprove plugin for AEM to alert them of any potential errors that could occur and can therefore make quick decisions to archive outdated content confidently.
The Akamai team is currently exploring ways to save additional time and effort in its maintenance and review tasks by using Siteimprove Policy to cut down on manual routine checks. For example, the team uses policies to supplement AEM’s References feature. They use Siteimprove to check for any live links to a URL, and create a policy to find any pages that link to a page or asset that is going to be retired. The publishers are planning to create more policies for 404 cleanup, accessibility fixes, and reviewing content created by self-authors.
Starting the accessibility journey
The web content publishing team at Akamai is dedicated to improving its website’s accessibility. Anyone new to accessibility and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) knows that it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Skyler and his team didn’t realize how much they were overlooking accessibility issues until they saw their score on Siteimprove wasn’t where they wanted it to be.
”Siteimprove Accessibility introduced us to accessibility issues we hadn’t really considered before. It helps with all the common pitfalls like missing alt text, color contrast issues, and skip links.”
After these issues were flagged, the team could start building accessibility earlier into the content production process which involves other teams in the organization. Skyler can easily demonstrate to his colleagues on the Web Content Strategy team why certain changes are important. Once they discuss and agree to the changes, they’re simply added to their documentation and self-author documentation. Now, content authors are aware when they need to include alt text with their images, and the design team is aware of what the appropriate color contrast is thanks to the smooth changes in their processes. Overall, with multiple teams working together to implement the recommendations flagged by Siteimprove Accessibility, Akamai has seen a 20% improvement in its website accessibility.
Skyler and his team are grateful they don’t have to be full-blown accessibility experts to make a big difference with a small team. Since using Siteimprove, they’ve quickly and easily built up their accessibility knowledge enough to feel confident about executing Siteimprove’s guidelines to vastly improve their website accessibility metrics.
To keep the team on track with its goals, Skyler uses the Siteimprove Digital Certainty Index® (DCI) scores as one of the team’s performance metrics based on the quality of Akamai.com’s content. The publishers set a goal for a certain score and once they reach it, they gradually move the target up, moving closer to the industry benchmark for quality assurance and accessibility as outlined by the DCI scoring model. Their QA score, for example, has already gone up from 96 to 97 within 45 days of using Siteimprove Prepublish. The score gives them a clear view of their progress and helps motivate them to keep making improvements.
A versatile tool to tackle any future challenge
Akamai Technologies has used Siteimprove since 2017, and Skyler and his team continue to choose Siteimprove because of its versatility in addressing the wide range of challenges they face. As Skyler puts it, “Siteimprove is a piece of that puzzle to get organic traffic up. The QA score definitely affects organic traffic. Google’s looking at those things: accessibility, 404 links, non-indexed pages. Siteimprove helps us find and resolve these issues quickly.”
The team at Akamai is just scratching the surface of its potential results with Siteimprove as part of the department’s MarTech stack of solutions. Plans for the future include optimizing Akamai’s data compliance processes and exploring a cookieless way to provide personalized experiences. For now, the publishing team will continue to improve their QA and accessibility scores until they get as close to 100 as possible.