web page tests

Sometimes, things just don’t go the way you want them to. It’s how you respond in these situations that defines who you are. The same principle is applicable to your website.

You may think you have the perfect website, one that is fully optimised and ready to convert traffic into buyers. But if it doesn’t happen, then it’s how you react that defines whether your site will survive or not. Maybe you can see that you’re getting traffic, but people aren’t responding in the way that you want them to. What avenues are available to you that can help solve the problem?

It’s simple – carry out some tests, analyse the results and then make the necessary changes to your site. You’ll not only see an increase in conversions, but user’s experiences should also improve too.

The three major types of on-page tests are A/B Testing, Multivariate Testing and Usability Testing.


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A/B Split Testing

The most basic form of randomised split testing, great if you’re just starting out with Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).

Want to know which version of a web page is best? Convinced that your idea will increase the level of enquiries from your site? Use A/B split testing, which can tell you with a high degree of scientific certainty which page performs better.

How Split Testing Works

A/B split testing ‘splits’ the traffic you receive to more than one version of a web page. A proportion of your visitors are sent to the original (or control) page and the others are sent to a different version of the page (with Google Website Optimizer you get to determine what the proportion split is).

It’s called A/B because your visitors either get page ‘A’ or ‘B’ and it’s called randomised testing because the traffic split is random.

Over time, once you have received enough visitors to each page version, A/B split testing will tell you which page version results in more goal conversions. Google Website Optimizer presents the results through its easy-to-read dashboard. The goal of A/B split testing is to establish a winning version – once you have achieved this you can adopt the winner permanently.

You can use Google Website Optimizer to setup and manage A/B split tests, it is remarkably easy. Keeping tests simple to start with makes things much easier.

Commit to Continual Improvement!

Once you have adopted (or kept) the winning version, get started on a new experiment to improve your goal conversion rates. If you stick with experimenting you will see conversion rate gains. It’s worth bearing in mind that you can also run A/B/C split tests – where visitors are split between 3 different pages – but this type of test gets slightly more complex (and requires more web traffic).

Summary of A/B Testing

Use A/B Split Testing if:

  • You want to improve your site conversion rate
  • You believe in statistics and scientific methodology as the best way of improving your site
  • You want to get started with CRO testing
  • Your site is getting less than 1000 visits a week

There is a great deal of science and maths that goes into establishing which page version is the best. We won’t go into it all now but if you get in touch we will be more than happy to discuss what is meant by ‘statistically significant’ and how it will work for your site.


Multivariate Testing

Test different combinations of web page ‘variants’ against each other. Multiple variants and possible combinations = more potential for conversion rate improvements.

Getting lots of visitors and want to run tests to find the optimum web page layout? Ready to make big improvements to your website’s conversion rate? Multivariate testing is for you.

How Multivariate Testing Works

How do you go about improving the conversion rate of your web pages? Well first, let’s break a page down a little further…

Most web pages will probably have at least some of the following:

  • Buttons and links
  • Headline
  • Subheadings
  • Body copy
  • Forms
  • Sign ups
  • Images

These are your page ‘elements’ and they could all be improved (which would lead to a higher page conversion rate).

Multivariate testing is about running experiments to improve the performance of these elements. You are therefore going to need some test variants (of your page element). For example’s sake, here are some possible variants of a website button:

i.e. ‘buttons + images’or ‘images + headlines’ or even ‘buttons + images + headlines’

Complex Experimenting Made Simple(ish)

Due to the number of possibilities involved (multiple elements and variants) Multivariate testing has the potential to get complicated pretty quickly. This is where Google Website Optimizer comes in – you can use this awesome tool to run and manage seriously complex experiments which would otherwise leave you and your team befuddled.

Maybe a Little Example Might Help

Say you want to experiment with 2 page elements, image + headline, for example.

In a simple experiment you may want to test 2 variants of each element so you have 6 variants in total (2 control and 4 test variants)

Once your experiment is set up Google Website Optimizer randomly shows each visitor 1 of the possible combinations (they will only ever see 1 version from the same computer). You can also set levels of traffic that see each different test combination. Once you have had enough visits to your site Multivariate testing will tell you which combination of variants performs best.

Because of the number of page versions (or variant combos) involved successful multivariate experimenting requires good levels of traffic. It can also take a little time to reach ‘conclusive results’.

Summary Of Multivariate Testing

Use Multivariate Testing if:

  • You are serious about improving your goal conversion rates
  • You receive a good level of visitors to your site
  • You believe in statistics and scientific methodology as the best way of improving your site
  • You want to see big improvements in your site’s performance

There is a great deal of science and maths that goes into establishing which combination of variants is the best. We won’t go into it all now but feel free to let us know if you’d like to read more information about on-page testing, how to make things ‘statistically significant’ and how these tests might work for your site.


Usability Testing

Don’t let the importance of your visitors’ experience fall by the wayside. You can highlight most issues through usability testing sessions.

You know from analytics and other tools that people are having problems with your site – but what exactly are the issues? Your design is good but could you convert more visitors through better usability?

How Friendly Is Your Site?

When you think about it, sites with bad usability are insulting to visitors; they may not mean to but they’re basically stating “I’m difficult and frustrating and what’s more I don’t care!” (similar to a waiter who consistently ignores you or a shop assistant who insists on baffling you with jargon).
User testing is one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools in the web designer’s toolbox for identifying and diagnosing usability problems on a website.

You Will Be Surprised

We’re always surprised and delighted by how much we still discover in every test we undertake. And while the main purpose is finding problems, user testing often also offers other valuable insights into how your users see you and how you can make their experience with you even better.

Typically, a session using 5 test candidates over the course of a day will identify over 85% of usability issues on your site. We also have a large database of testing candidates you can draw from.

Summary of Usability Testing

Consider Usability Testing if you want:

  • A design that is friendly and easy-to-use
  • Your website to give your visitors a “warm welcome”, not the “cold shoulder”
  • Great design that helps your visitors achieve what they want to achieve
  • A higher website goals conversion rate

Conclusions

The three tests described above are a great jumping off point if you need to solve the issue of an under-performing page.

Regardless of the results generated from any tests you run, it’s important that you remember not to be too drastic in your actions, as it might impact your wider site.

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