It is essential for VFS teams to be aware that the Governance team requires prior access to the Staging environment to conduct a complete and comprehensive staging review. Staging reviews can involve multiple environments. Each of these environments require additional specific information in order to access the site and conduct the review.

The following guidance provides information to the VFS teams, that is key to assisting the Governance team with completing a comprehensive Staging review.

Types of Staging environments

Unauthenticated

  • The VFS team does not need to provide any additional information to the Governance team

Authenticated

  • VFS team will need to provide the Governance team login information

Drupal/Static content

  • VFS teams should be aware that Static content on the Drupal CMS is on a public domain and will likely be behind a security wall

Review instances

  • Review Instances are isolated testing instances that are created for each pull request. The VFS team can visit any pull request, scroll down to a link that says, “Show environments, " and select it. It will expand to show a button that says “show deployment”. This is the deployed review instance the VFS team can provide to the Governance team to use for the review

    • VFS teams should be aware that review instances do expire:

      • VFS teams should validate that the review instance is still active

      • VFS teams should validate when the review instance will become inactive

  • Read more about review instances

Alternative environments for Staging review, per practice area:

It is helpful for VFS teams to be aware that in situations where Governance team members cannot access a live page, they can use screenshots as an alternative, however not all practices areas can perform a complete review with screenshots only:

  • Design and Content can use screenshots to conduct a complete review

    • Since Governance team members will not be able to see the front-end code, they will make assumptions about the page’s visual components

  • IA can use screenshots to conduct a partial review

    • If the VFS team includes the final URL in the screenshot of the address bar, then a full review is possible

  • Accessibility can use screenshots to conduct a partial review, however, it will not include:

    • Assistive Technology testing (e.g., screen readers)

    • Keyboard Accessibility testing

    • Zoom or Screen Magnification testing (unless screenshots provided include 200%, 300%, and 400% zoom examples)

    • Review of focus state, hover state, or active state for interactive elements

    • Review of focus management

    • Review of any motion or animations (rare on VA.gov but essential for people with vestibular disorders)

    • High Contrast Mode testing

    • Code or component review (watching for invalid HTML or misuse of ARIA)

If or when the Governance team is not able to complete a full review, the VFS team may need to defer to the specific OCTO practice area's lead for a decision on whether or not the VFS team has approval to launch.