In the posts about website optimizing, Thomas Veltman, explains how A/B testing can deliver added value to website optimizing. This post is his second.
In part one of this blog we discussed the problem many companies face with their web presence: How do you increase the effectiveness of your website as much as possible? In this second part of “Do not turn a blind eye to website optimization” we describe one technique for improving conversion rates of your website.
The technique is called A/B or multivariate testing.
A/B Testing tests the effectiveness of many different versions of your website against each other.
How does is it work? The main principle is simple. Instead of keeping just one version of your website online, you keep two or even more versions online. One version is the main version; most of the websites’ visitors are guided to this site. A smaller percentage of visitors is guided to another version of the website.
The conversion and other performance indicators are measured for both versions of the website and compared. After that, the version with the best results becomes the main website.
And then the process starts over: another change is implemented in another new version of the website and that version is put alongside the main version the compare.
Dependent on the number of visitors to a website, it’s also possible to implement several changes in several other versions of the website. That way, more versions of the website can be compared. Since we are working with statistical figures here, the group of visitors has to be of a considerable size to have a dependable measurement. This limits the number of website version that one can have online concurrently
This approach is effective for two main reasons:
- * Other (usability) test methods always measure some kind of simulation, weather in a laboratory or elsewhere. This measurement is taken on the real visitors, the real costumers, while they are using the product in real life. Very dependable, and without having to worry about factors that might alter the results of a test.
- * If you make a change in your site and you have only one version, and it has a dramatic effect on the performance of the site, the conversion of the site and with that the turnover of the company can decrease dramatically (in the video which was linked in a response in my last blog a drop of 90% conversion rate was reported because of the introduction of a coupon code). By testing the change in this way, the performance will drop only for a smaller number of visitors and the risk is decreased.
There are several tools to implement such a test. Even free ones, such as Google website optimizer.
In the first post I talked about the challenge of website optimization being similar to that of a blind man climbing a mountain. The A/B testing method helps companies with their website optimization in the same way a mountain climber can be helped by being tied with a rope to someone else. If one falls into a gorge, the other person is there to haul them out of it. It helps companies gradually and structurally improve their websites!