One helpful and common way to maximize your website’s efficiency – and to ensure the best user experience – is A/B testing, or split testing. In this technique, at least two versions of your website are presented to users.
Version A is the original control web page, which is likely your current page. Version B is the alternative page, the one whose features, such as a different layout, headline or color scheme, you are testing. You can have multiple alternatives; version C would be a different page and so on. There are rarely more than 10 alternative pages.
What’s best about A/B testing is its simplicity:
1. Its design is easy to implement: You can have as many alternative pages and you can test as many differences as you wish. You might want to test multiple changes across few or many versions of your web page.
2. Its results are quantifiable: It’s easy to measure results because you can track the progress with your existing web analytics tools. Plus, finding out which page is more successful is straightforward because you can compare the A and B versions to see which has the desired statistic.
However, A/B testing’s simplicity might limit some of your findings:
1. It tracks few variations: Because you might track each difference on your web page, you may have to test one change at a time. As a result, you can’t see how multiple changes on one page influence each other.
2. It doesn’t give context to your results: Although A/B testing reveals which features work best on your web pages, it doesn’t explain why.
Preparing Your A/B Test:
It’s important to designate your control page, consider your alternative page and choose a conversion page. The conversion page is where the user lands after clicking a specified link on your test page; this way you know that the test page is successful.
Consider This Helpful A/B Test Tool:
The most commonly used web-testing tool is Google Website Optimizer (GWO). Like Google’s other services, GWO is free and user-friendly. It’s available to those with a Google ID, but if you don’t have one you can quickly create an account.
GWO lets you compare results and set how many users are directed to each test page. It can be used in tandem with Google Analytics, a free detailed statistics tool, so you can analyze specific areas of each web page.
Creating Your A/B Test:
Once your prep work is done and GWO is set up, use these three easy steps to implement your test:
1. Enter the URL of your control page, version A.
2. Enter the URL of the alternative page, version B.
3. Lastly, enter the URL of your conversion page.
Now that you know your A/B testing ABCs, learning the elements of your website’s design that are producing a desired action from your readers will be much easier to determine.
About the Author
Brian Flores is a SEO and copywriter for InMotion Hosting, one of the top dedicated server providers in the country. He works with a team of awesome writers to post useful tutorials on WebHostingHelpGuy. You can follow him on Twitter @WHHG_InMotion or @BrianAFlores.