- On March 5, 2020
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Have you ever wondered if you were getting the most out of your website? Do you know if your users are really finding what you want them to, or perhaps getting stuck or lost along the way? One of the most popular and effective ways to find answers to these questions (and more) is through A/B testing; a randomized experiment as old as time, comparing two variants.
In the digital world A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a user research testing method that helps you discover critical information about your website. Using the two variants (A and B), you can conduct tests on specific pages or elements on your website and compare the results. In most cases half of the users will see the controlled version, and half will see the variant, at random. This type of testing allows you to see which version performs better among your existing users, and can help guide you towards improving conversation rates and feel confident that you’re implementing the best solution for the desired result.
Why and how is A/B testing used?
There are many reasons why someone might want to use A/B tests on their website, and the goals are always around making improvements. It’s easy to make assumptions about how visitors interact with your website, or to think the UX is intuitive because you know it like the back of your hand, when really it could be confusing for first time users.
Some common reasons why you should invest in A/B testing include (but are not limited to):
- Increase conversations – where do you want users to look, click or otherwise engage?
- Increased overall traffic – more traffic means more conversation opportunities
- Solve visitor obstacles – is your website confusing its visitors? Can they find what they’re looking for?
- Reduce bounce rate – bounce rates often increase if users are frustrated, confused or can’t find what they need
- Solve design issues/pick a design direction – does everyone have a different opinion about how a website should look or behave? Settle the dispute with quantifiable data!
- A/B testing is a great way to gain insight into existing UX when considering a redesign
Examples of specific elements you might want to A/B test:
- Design elements – testing out different typography, colors & images
- Messaging – try slight variations to page titles & call to action text
- CTA position – are users more inclined to click a button at the top or bottom of your page?
- Navigation links – subtle changes can have a big impact. Does the word ‘Lawyers’ get more clicks than ‘Attorneys’ from your audience?
- Form fields – Do your forms have too many fields, causing a high drop off rate? Are the fields labeled clearly? Are checkboxes or dropdowns more effective?
- Proposed feature changes – does that aggressive, bouncing pop up notification work better as a subtle banner instead?
How to decide what to A/B test
Identify your main goals, and start there. What are you trying to find out? Are you trying to increase overall traffic, or get more form submissions? Determine this before running a test. Set your goal, make a hypothesis, and decide on your control vs. variant content.
Don’t make your tests too complex. It can be easy to get ahead of yourself and want to test every piece of every page! Try to isolate 1 variable to test at a time to get the most effective results.
Test both variants simultaneously, and for the same period of time. Make sure your sample size is large enough to come to a conclusion. How much traffic does your site get in general? It can be a good idea to set goals before you start, and determine how much data you want to collect before deciding which option is the winner.
Take it a step further: Use a focus group with real people, or add feedback tools to your site to get the “why” behind your data such as Mopinion.
There are a variety of different tools out there that can help you set up A/B testing strategies. At Tenrec, one of our favorite tools is called Crazy Egg. Using Crazy egg is a great way to help you “improve what’s working, fix what isn’t, and test new ideas” with a variety of different tools including heatmaps, recordings and A/B testing. Crazy Egg can also get you started with more generalized site data like traffic, bounce rate, or trends to get an idea of how visitors are currently using your site, and identify potential issues or areas to focus on improving.
If you have questions about A/B testing, or want help getting started on your own website, reach out to your Tenrec Account Manager or firstname.lastname@example.org for help on this and other topics.