A/B testing refers to testing a website in two different versions. The ultimate goal is to see which version performs better. In some cases, multiple versions of a website are created and are tested in several groups to decide what the optimal version is. This testing process is somewhat time consuming and must be done in sections. To better understand the process, it is broken down below.
Why A/B Testing is Important
In order to understand and see how your website runs, A/B testing is necessary. It helps to point out any bugs or slow running sections so that proper fixes can be implemented before launching the content. If problems are noted, it is ideal to run these tests again after everything has been reworked. If the same results are returned, or worse, starting over with that section or changing some of the structure may be required. When you launch a website it should ideally work perfectly to decrease user dissatisfaction and complaints that will lead to negative feedback for your business.
This process is especially important for those with e-Commerce websites where customers will be purchasing products, signing up for trials and becoming members of a service. If the contents of the website do not compute quickly as users use shopping cart features and view products, they are likely to seek an alternative option. Providing these needs upon launch aids in providing an overall positive experience for consumers.
How the Testing Process Works
There are several phases to the A/B testing process. Two elements are compared against each other by proposing different versions of the website to two different users. Ideally, you are looking for results with a low conversion rate. The lowest conversion rate is the best functioning. In some cases, functions of one version may score lower than others which will cause developers to combine parts and rework the codes.
As you begin the process of testing for functionality and conversion rate speed on your website, an optimization code must first be inputted. The code snippet is ideal for websites that will be launched on Joomla, Drupal and WordPress. This tests all aspects of the website along with plugins for the specific hosting service.
When you are testing the design process, it is ideal that each version is different. This process tests how fast layouts and graphics load. It also tests to see if the page loads in order or if there are any speed reductions for a specific type of graphic.
This section refers to setting up how you wish the website to work as far as gaining traffic, getting users to join and making sales. First and foremost, you need traffic. This is done easiest by giving back linking a go. Backlinking to a reputable service in the same field helps your company to build a reputation and become seen more. Goals can also refer to increased unique visitors and link clicking as well.
Offer a membership for those visiting the site regularly. Having an account on a website is one item that helps consumers want to visit more often. It also makes ordering easier as well as making referrals and sending out promotional materials.
Making sales happens when a business has great customer service, an impeccable product or service, an easy to use website and a fast checkout process. Users want to spend as little time as possible getting what they want or need. Sales will increase as positive reviews and testimonials are left as well as word of mouth advertising.
In this phase, where the tests are actually run, it is ideal to run one at a time. Some entire functions can be tested in one phase, but individual elements should be done separately. The individual elements to be tested separately are listed below.
A list of specific individual items to test includes:
- Headlines and Sub-headlines
- Mentions of any type of media
- Awards and/or badges
- Paragraph text
- Testimonials or reviews from customers
- Call to action text, links and buttons
- All links and images
- Content near the folds of pages
- Social proof
Testing small groups or single items separately is important so that the most accurate results are received. These can even be broken down further to only test one section or one function at a time. To be as efficient as possible in this process, individual function testing is suggested.
Setup Control and Treatment
Setting up control and treatment refers to maintaining one original version of the website by making an exact copy. This is considered to be the master and the one that will be used for making changes and such as time goes on. The tested copies can be saved as well but the master should be the version to have codes changed, graphics optimized, optimized content and so on. The altered versions of these pages are the control and variations are treatments.
View Results and Retest
As you view the results from each test individually, compare them against the results of the second version. If there are multiple parts on each test that balance out the second version, it is ideal to rework the website with the lowest rates overall to optimize how it works. Once changes are implemented, run the tests all over again against the original version. The results returned here should be much better with lower numbers than the previous go. The goal is to provide content that runs smoothly and is SEO friendly for users with fast refresh rates and fast conversion rates.
As you can see from the information above, using A/B testing prior to launching it is quite important. It may be ideal to enlist the help of SEO specialists to carry these steps out properly. SEO is an important element to website creation as it helps gain higher results in web searches as well as makes the content easier to search for. Be sure to run each test in order and not overload the testing process with more than one command at a time for the best and most accurate results.