How to A/B Test Your Website and What to Test
If you’re not sure that you’re website’s performing at its optimum level – you’re not alone. The reality is – many website owners simply pick a design and layout and go with it. They don’t really know if it’s working for them. People just choose a design they like and stick with it. Don’t make the same mistake. You need to drill down and test a number of different layouts and design to find out one that really works for you. The right design and layout could be the difference between making money or losing it.
Hopefully, if you’ve got this far – you’re willing to make some changes. But how do you know what to change and what might work best for your site? You need to test alternatives – and you can do that with A/B testing.
What is A/B testing?
In essence – A/B is simply running two different site designs or page layouts alongside eachother. You might run one for a month and another for a month – or run them simultaneously and send different traffic to each site.
You’ll then use a range of analytical tools like Google Analytics to evaluate the results and make sure you know which site design works best for you – whether you’re looking to maximize sales, increase opt-ins or direct traffic to a certain tunnel.
A/B testing is so effective because it actually gives you the evidence to back up your site design choices. There are already a number of established layout ideas that have been tested over time, and that’s why they’re so popular. You might even be using one or two of them already without realizing it.
A/B testing can vary from changing colors of your site to completely removing the design around. You might want to try different sales copy or new graphics to improve a user’s experience. There’s a reason why many of the sites you visit keep changing. They’re either testing something different or have decided what they were using didn’t work for them as well as it could have.
How can you use A/B testing for your site?
There are a number of different factors that you need to be aware of when looking to A/B test your website. Let’s have a look at a few of them.
Know which parts of your site need changes
You should already have a lot of data and have done some research to give you a good idea of where you need to start. Don’t simply jump in and change certain pages if you don’t need to. Target other parts of your site, like landing pages or areas where you think you aren’t getting the results you deserve.
Test minor changes at a time
If you completely re-design your home page and then run a test – you won’t know which parts worked and which didn’t, because there won’t be much to compare it to. That’s an important point to remember with A/B testing. If you just change one aspect at a time, you’ll know which changes really work and which don’t.
Get enough data
One issue many people have with A/B testing is sample size. You need to make sure you’ve driven enough traffic to each version of the site to really know if the changes are working or not. Think thousands, or even tens of thousands of hits rather than hundreds.
Use similar traffic
If you’re running split tests at the same time (meaning you’re sending different traffic to different versions) – you need to make sure each version if receiving similar types of traffic. If you only send traffic from one source to a certain version and then send a different source of traffic to another version, you won’t really get the best results or a complete idea of what’s working best.
Know what to look for
If you’re going to make the most out of the A/B testing process – you need to know what you’re looking for when you analyse the results. Look for pages that have low conversion rates or high bounce rates – or areas of your site that aren’t keeping people engaged.
Consider using software to help you
While you can make changes yourself and run a simple A/B testing process without spending any extra money, there are a few good services like Optimizely that can help you. These services can help make the changes to to your page design, run the test itself and also evaluate the results.
Don’t cloak when you run your tests
“Cloaking” is where you show a search engine a different version to the one visitors get when they click. It can result in your site being demoted, so try and avoid it when you run your A/B testing process.
Now that you understand the process and a few of the things you need to look at when A/B testing, here are a few specific changes you can test that might make a difference to the success of your website:
Font: You might think the font you use won’t make a huge difference, but it can. Make sure you’re using the best font for your site and niche.
Colors: A simple color change could actually make your site both more user-friendly and more profitable. Try a few to make sure you’ve got the one that works best.
Calls to action: This one is a big one for those trying to convert or make sales. You need to make sure you’re using the best calls to action possible. The best copy, the most convincing offers, and the best positioning of the call to action itself.
Price schemes: If you’re not sure which prices work best – test them. Try different money-back guarantees or free trial periods and see which makes you the most money.
These are just a few simple examples, but you really can test almost anything. Just make sure you do one thing at a time so that you’re not bombarded with data that’s hard to use.