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How to Conduct A/B Testing on Your Website

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Lately, a number of customers have asked us for tips on how to make their websites more successful.  Of course, search engine optimisation is key, but A/B testing can also be extremely beneficial.  In order for your website to succeed, it needs to change and evolve.  However, certain site updates may actually be more harmful than helpful.

Thankfully, you can perform A/B testing to help you determine with a fair amount of certainty whether or not you should make a particular change to your website.

A/B testing allows you to test new ideas, such as updates to your site’s layout, copy, images, and colours, to determine if these changes have the desired effect.  If you’re considering changing the look of the button visitors click to sign up to your newsletter, then you can use A/B testing to display the old button to some visitors and the new button to others.

In order for you to determine if the new button is getting you the results you want, you need to use a tool or application of some sort to track which button is getting you the most sign ups.

Google Website Optimizer

google website optimizer logo

One of the best free tools for A/B testing is Google’s Website Optimizer.  This application enables you to create experiments by inserting HTML script tags in the original, variation, and conversion pages to track which version provides you with your desired result.  If you were to use Google Website Optimizer to test whether or not a new sign up button would yield a higher rate of subscribers to your newsletter, then your original page would have the old button, the variation page would have the new button, and the conversion page would be the page you display to visitors who have signed up to your newsletter.

Once you’ve launched your experiment, you can view a report which will tell you how each page is performing.  With this information, you should be able to decide which button to use on your website.

Overall, this is a great tool for A/B testing, but you do need to have some knowledge of HTML in order to use Google Website Optimizer.  To help you create your first experiment, check out Google’s written step-by-step tutorial, as well as an excellent video tutorial on creating A/B experiments.

When conducting A/B testing on your site, you should consider the following:

  • Before making any updates to your website’s code, be sure to have a recent backup available in case something goes wrong.  This is especially important if you don’t have a lot of coding experience.
  • Be patient.  You’ll want a decent sample in order to determine which version of your site works best, so don’t stop your experiment until you’ve had a fair amount of traffic.
  • Don’t be afraid to try out different ideas.  A/B testing is a great way to test new concepts and get relevant feedback, making it a great tool for creative people.
  • Don’t stop testing.  A/B testing is a great way to help your website improve and evolve, so don’t stop with just one experiment.  If you think something might make your website better, then give it a try.

If you use a content management system like Joomla, WordPress or Drupal, there are free A/B testing extensions, plugins and modules specifically designed for these applications.  These tools will be covered in future posts, so be sure to check back soon!

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3 Comments

  1. On January 16, 2012 at 7:28 am

    psd to magento said:

    This is a great information about the optimization and goole are giving a lot of tools for the testing our websites.

  2. On January 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Paul said:

    The biggest problem I’ve had with A/B testing is working out what to test. When there are so many things that you could test, I find that many people focus on testing the wrong sorts or things (in my opinion) such as the colours of buttons. The more important tests to carry out I feel are around ‘sales’ copy and how this is worded, calls to action and positioning of elements on the page.

  3. On January 12, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Hans said:

    Thanks for the interesting informations. There are many different Google tools you can use.