The World Wide Web is constantly evolving, as are the preferences of most users. Designs and content that used to work a few years ago don’t work as well as they do in this day and age. If you haven’t implemented any major design changes or updates to your site in the last couple of years, then maybe it’s time to consider making some changes today.
However, changing certain elements and portions of your site randomly (and in a way, blindly) might do more bad than good. This is why you need to run tests first and determine which components of your site are weak and which elements are still doing strongly.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is a marketing method where two versions of a single design component are created and presented simultaneously to website visitors. The better variant is determined based on the response that it got from the users. Only one element is tested at a time so that the cause for the varied response is known.
For example, an online store comes up with two promotional images to inform customers of items that are currently on sale. One features actual images of the products, while the other shows some images along with text indicating the duration of the sale. After running the test, the store then chooses to go with the image that had more clicks or led to more sales.
How to Run an A/B Test
There’s no need to manually set up your A/B test every step of the way since there are many tools and software available that you can use to run them. If you prefer, you can also hire a third-party firm which offers A/B testing as part of their services.
Step One: Decide which elements you want to test
The first step is to make a list of all the elements on your website that can still be improved. Set up a small group to go through this process with you so you won? miss a thing. You should be as unbiased as possible at this stage so you can clearly identify and point out any weak points in your design. It would also be helpful if you set the goals you want to achieve with your A/B tests so you can come up with criteria on how to gauge the results that you will be getting.
Step Two: Design your test and create variations of the chosen element
Rearrange the list of elements that you have according to priority, keeping in mind that the most important or high impact parts of your website should be tested first. Two versions of the chosen element should then be created for the test.
Step Three: Run your A/B test
A tool that’s worth looking into is Google’s Website Optimizer. It can be accessed readily online and lets webmasters set up, design, and run their own A/B tests easily. You can also choose to hire a third party who can run the A/B tests for you.
Testing usually runs for several weeks, depending on the number of hits that your site gets. If you have a high traffic site, then the duration that you’ll need for your test would naturally be shorter.
Step Four: Interpret the results and apply the changes
Once the test is done, determine which variation is better, based on the criteria that you’re come up with earlier. Implement it on your website, then go back to the list that you created in the first step and choose another element to test. Keep doing these tests until you can’t find any element you want to improve on your site to ensure that it’s completely optimized.
This is a guest post by Ruben Corbo. He is a freelancer writer specialized in different topics including technology, online marketing with AB Test and Product Recommendation Engines, music, art, and motivation. When Ruben is not writing he is producing and composing music for short films and other forms of visual arts.