Yep! That is the question! When it comes to optimizing a website, testing (in my opinion) is the key to achieving the most perfected user experience, to find out how to better the steps within a purchasing funnel or to determine which call-to-action attracts the most customers. Now this is not a new subject, I agree with you! BUT it is still a point of contention. Not everyone agrees that testing is necessary.
When it comes to optimizing a website, testing (in my opinion) is the key to achieving the most perfected user experience, to find out how to better the steps within a purchasing funnel or to determine which call-to-action attracts the most customers. Now this is not a new subject, I agree with you! BUT it is still a point of contention. Not everyone agrees that testing is necessary. Is that because we think it is too expensive? Is it because we don’t have time? Because we don’t know how to go about web testing? Or is it simply because we think we are right? Yes, there are simple standards to follow that do not need to be tested. But if someone would like to differ from these known standards and try something unusual, why not test to see if users will understand, use and appreciate the changes?
It is true that once a person has worked within a field and gained experience, they are likely to know their customers, and therefore their web users. But sometimes we can be surprised by test results. A test can identify the better version of a page or simply of a headline. Or sometimes our assumptions are validated by a test. We determine that the color we picked for the button is the winning color in a test. Most often it’s better to be sure we are right then to assume it...especially when we invest a lot of money and time, we want the best version possible. Now for those who don’t test for fear of spending too much money... well it’s actually pretty inexpensive! It is definitely cheaper than loosing sales or visits to a poor website or checkout process. There are tools out there (for example: Website Optimizer), that allow you to test for free. Obviously there are expensive tools on the market as well, but as a beginner (and an expert!), Website Optimizer can easily carry you to the finish line.
Now that the tool is free, all you need are 2 versions of a page, or button, or call-to-action and less than 10 minutes... Once you have picked the item you want to test and created versions, an A/B test takes very little time to set-up and QA. Not only is it inexpensive, it’s result-oriented! Results are easy to understand and actions can be undertaken immediately. This being said there are many types of testing that can be done; user testing, focus groups, polls, questionnaires. These also provide you with important and significant feedback but they can be more expensive and require a great deal of time. Why not start simple and cheap? What should we test? Everything! Well that might be a little exaggeration...or not :)
I get carried away sometimes. Start at the beginning. The best way to get results is to start with the worst part of your site. Determine the worst pages and create new versions to test. Make sure to control the impact of your experiments. Most tools allow you to choose the percentage of your users that will be subjected to the test (10%, 20%, 50% or any percentage you choose). This limits the risks of testing new pages. The amount of possible tests only depends on you and your creativity. My number one advice would be to NOT start testing buttons on the first attempts. Buttons are a small part of a page and they will give you small results...nothing that will amaze the skeptics in your workplace. So just to recapitulate... Web testing is
- not complicated
And, most of all it allows you to ensure that your users enjoy your website. You are using the most representative group to determine what is best for your online customers; your online customers! From experience I know it is difficult to convince people to start testing... But I decided to give you a little help by listing 10 ideas to get you started. Wether you decide to do A/B tests or multivariate tests, these ideas can motivate you:
- Place your product with the highest profit margin in the best position on your page (above the fold and to the left), Give it the best spot!
- Vary the core message of your headlines to see which type gets your customers
- Position your tagline under your logo to demystify the goals of your company
- Test a range of prices (expensive, cheap, odd pricing)
- Vary your calls-to-action to see which type gets the most conversions
- Test different premiums to your offer (get the second free, accessories, coupons, etc.)
- Add a guarantee
- List your top-selling items
- Add testimonials
- Put your security seal in the header
I bet you already have a couple ideas... don’t wait to test them! Good luck to you and let me know how your online testing experiments changed your website.