University of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix approached TA Digital with the goal of devising a way to audit the university’s full website for compliance with standards including the accessibility guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium, and remove any potential obstacles that might keep new students from enrolling or restrict existing students’ access to vital course materials.

PROJECT CHALLENGE

The University of Phoenix website has more than 39,000 pages indexed by Google. The massive volume of content makes a manual accessibility audit virtually impossible because of the resources and time that would be necessary to complete the audit.

Some of W3C’s standards for web accessibility include:

  • All pages should display properly on any device that a website visitor might use.
  • All images should contain descriptive alt text for users with visual impairments.
  • All website functions should respond to keyboard input for those who rely on voice control, because they cannot use standard computer pointing devices.
  • All embedded video and audio recordings should have closed captions or transcripts for those unable to hear the audio.
  • Color should not be used as the only means of providing information.
  • Users should have the ability to magnify text without losing website functionality.
  • Every page should have a title that clearly explains the information the page provides.
  • Every link should have a title explaining its destination.

OUR SOLUTION

To audit the University of Phoenix website, TA Digital used JMeter. JMeter has the ability to create a simulated load on a website, but it doesn’t support JavaScript or render full HTML pages. It’s the perfect solution for simulating the way in which a website behaves under circumstances in which browser functionality is reduced.

Since JMeter also simulates high website traffic and heavy user loads, the University of Phoenix agreed that we should use the automated compliance audit as an opportunity to audit the speed of the website and identify performance bottlenecks. At the time of testing, the University of Phoenix website ran at an average utilization of 47 percent. Under a heavy user load, server utilization increased to 73 percent.

FINAL RESULT

Using JMeter to audit the accessibility and performance of the University of Phoenix website was successful. Our team was able to identify pages on the Phoenix.edu website with potential accessibility issues. We provided a list of the page URLs to the University of Phoenix to facilitate further action.

Our testing also brought about great performance improvements in the University of Phoenix website. After the website’s staff removed the performance bottlenecks that we identified, the average server load dropped from 47 to 39 percent. During heavy traffic, the server load dropped from 73 to 57 percent.

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