Industry Insights

Siteimprove: GDPR, Accessibility & Integration with Sitefinity CMS

While attending ProgressNEXT 2018, one of the exciting announcements on deck for the event was the brand new Siteimprove CMS Extension made available on most Sitefinity versions, allowing customers access to a better understanding of how their sites are performing and offering up the analytics and insights needed to fix anything holding the site back. 

The first night at the event, in conversation with Siteimprove’s Partner Marketing Specialist Natalie Meshbesher she made the wonderful analogy that you would never create a building without ensuring accessibility for the public in all manners, so in an increasingly digital world, you should incorporate the same thought process into building your website, with Siteimprove offering a helping hand to digital teams in ensuring compliance and accessibility at every step. 

To gain greater insight into web accessibility, compliance needs and the integration itself, I gathered the informative interviews below.

Why is Website Accessibility So Important?


Website accessibility, as Dawn Watkins, Accessibility Consultant at Siteimprove points out is about making a website inclusive for all users, largely with development and presentation but more so, she states it’s about creating a great overall user experience. Considering it’s not often that accessibility is likened to user experience, yet the two are inextricably linked, I asked Dawn what are some other common misconceptions she saw surrounding accessibility:

“Folks think they can just use an automated checker and then to address all the things that come up and then they’re done but the reality is you also have to go through a level of manual checking. A computer can’t recreate exactly what a user is going to do, and how it functions, things that more a human has to encounter to know they’re working”

Another misstep that can be taken, which I think would be fairly common, is what Dawn points out as the underestimation of the amount of users of a website that would benefit from a more accessible user experience and businesses too often become focused on putting an exact number on the group, through tracking the use of screen readers or just trying to track the amount of users with disabilities when really, everyone who uses a website, no matter their level of ability can benefit from a better user experience, as Dawn states “it’s not a small audience, it’s really all of us so I hope people will take that to heart”.

With this in mind, I likened it to the GDPR (which we will discuss more in-depth below) and how a lot of the literature surrounding it diverts the attention from its compliance being a hindrance and spins it in a positive light as more an opportunity for transparency and a deeper engagement with a consumer base. Knowing there is a similar narrative around accessibility and wondering if marketers could take note on the positive effects a more awareness and openness regarding accessibility could hold, I asked Dawn once we had finished recording if she saw this as an opportunity for businesses as well: 

“Definitely, it lends to the user experience. If we just even use the example of color, we often take for granted how much we leverage color to even just emphasize a positive green or a negative red while red/green color blindness is actually one of the most common color blind categories, 1 in 12 men is affected by it and 1 in 200 women so that’s could be a large group of customers. One of the biggest things I hope people take away there is too often times we like to focus on accessibility being the developer’s responsibility but when you’re talking about colors, you’re talking about branding and branding is your marketing and your communicators and they have to think about those color combinations before they ever get to a developer”

Siteimprove Partners with to Create Sitefinity Integrator


After my interview with Dawn I sat down with Frank Harvey, Director of Partnerships at Siteimprove and Craig Briars, Sales Director at, the Sitefinity partner that created the full integration benefiting users of both Siteimprove and Sitefinity. 

One of the greatest benefits of this integration is the enhancement it allows for the workflow of web teams in being able to fix errors that would otherwise hold them back and ensure optimization of the content all directly in the editing environment. If anything were missed, once the page is published a secondary check can be done, minimizing the amount of time a team would have to spend on manual tasks. Now while Dawn emphasizes there will always be a need for the human element in ensuring final checks on such things, the use of the integrator will drastically reduce the amount of time spent.

On the Siteimprove website, a full list is given for what the Siteimprove CMS Extension provides insights into: 

  • Misspellings and broken links
  • Readability levels
  • Accessibility issues (A, AA, AAA conformance level)
  • High-priority policies
  • SEO: technical, content, UX, and mobile 
  • Page visits and page views
  • Feedback rating and comments

Frank emphasized in our interview, this integration is significant not only for productivity but also the budget for an organization: “if you look at their whole devops life cycle, all the way from replatforming or putting out a new site or doing maintenance it actually improves their productivity for whenever they do enhancements or changes, they can use the connector to automatically check what they’ve done, they can go through and check for the quality of the code, if there is anything that is broken or they missed something that was miscoded or from an accessibility standpoint it can highlight where any of the issues are they may have missed so they don’t have to run an extra QA cycle to find that, it will automatically show up for them. It will highlight where the code or where the problems are and direct them to where they can fix it, improving their productivity and lowering their overall costs. “

GDPR: More Complex in Implementation than in Understanding

Following my interviews with the Siteimprove team on location at ProgressNEXT 2018, I was eager to round out my view of their business’s full scale software addressing content quality, accessibility compliance, data privacy requirements and more with Angelo Spenillo, General Counsel at Siteimprove North America

After having discussed the GDPR with many various experts over the past year, I found each and every one had their own unique view of what it meant, this could be due to the GDPR’s ambiguous nature, leaving interpretation open for every person who dove into understanding it but given Angelo’s background in the legal side of compliance, contrasting to the technology, business or marketing views we have taken in the past, I was very curious to hear his view. 

For him the GDPR overall offers a great opportunity for transparency and awareness, both for businesses and consumers. I really identified with this as I see one of the biggest advantages of the GDPR conversation is it has brought forth the need for consumers to have an awareness of how their data is collected and being used, the involvement that they have a say in that process and the responsibility of organizations to make that possible. 

Now that the GDPR is in place, many have completed their compliance and sighed in relief that hurdle has passed but some are cautioning that the GDPR is only the first of its kind to appear and many more regulations like it could be on their way from other parts of the world. I brought this question up to Angelo and also asked where he felt the GDPR sat on the complexity scale in relation to other current or future regulations:

“I’d say that it’s moderate. Honestly, and maybe because I’ve read it so many times it seems actually that the regulation itself is fairly simple, you just have to tell people what you’re doing with the information you’re collecting, there’s no real big prohibitions. I would say the complexity comes in with the actual implementation of it. Going into all of your systems and starting to look at all the places you’re collecting data, then trying to figure out why you’re collecting it and figuring out how long you’re keeping it for and then what to do when someone asks you about that information, its harder to implement than I think it is to understand.”

Would we see more like it? “I think a lot of people are wondering if this is going to come over into North America, are we going to see more things like this? I don’t know because the GDPR was intended really to harmonize similar laws across European countries in the EU and in the U.S we just recently had the 50th state pass a data breach notification law so the fact that took 50 states each that long to come up with their own it makes me wonder whether we’re going to be able to agree and see something like that but in other areas of the world yes, we will see something similar, Canada, they wouldn’t surprise me, they seem to be ahead on these data privacy issues.”

Ending Notes

As some of our long time readers might know, this isn’t the first time we have covered Siteimprove or even interviewed members of their team. Towards the end of last year, my colleague Venus shared my interview with Roger J Furhman, VP at Siteimprove along with much more in-depth information on the platform and prior to that, I spoke with Nicolai Munch Andersen, Product Owner for Policy and API at Siteimprove about why a platform like this is imperative for web teams to have in their arsenal. 

As Dawn points out above, the importance of web accessibility cannot be underestimated, with organizations needing this as well as data compliance to be top of mind, not to mention the setbacks ineffective content or slow SEO could be inflicting undetected. Siteimprove as an organization aims to alleviate this woe by making the remedy incredibly streamlined and is now adding Sitefinity CMS to its growing list of prominent CMS platforms it integrates with. 

Laura Myers

Laura Myers

A digital business, marketing and social media enthusiast, Laura thrives on asking unique, insightful questions to ignite conversation. At an event or remotely, she enjoys any opportunity to connect with like-minded people in the industry.

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