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3 Reasons to A/B Test Your Website

Learn how we use A/B tests to optimize the user experience on our website, and how you can do the same.

Why gamble when making changes to your website? Whether making a big or small update to your website, it’s important to take the time to understand your visitors first.

You can get this understanding by prototype testing, conducting user interviews, surveys or A/B testing, to determine the impact a change will have on your visitors. At Progress, we often use one or a combination of these methods prior to a website update depending on the magnitude of the change. A/B testing has become our method of choice to help us understand the effect of a change as well as continually optimize our current user experience.  

By splitting your traffic evenly to two or more versions of a page through an A/B test you can collect data points, e.g., number of goal completions, behavioral metrics (avg time on page, bounce and exit rates, etc.), of both an original and variation of a page design. The results can be compared and analyzed to either prove or disprove hypotheses formed prior to testing, indicating whether a previous assumption regarding your variation(s) has the expected effect on the metrics you want to influence.

We rely on A/B testing for many reasons, but here are three of the top things good A/B testing allows us to do:

  1. Increase conversions
    Your website is a tool used to grow your business. An important, and often costly, channel used to drive traffic to your website is paid—e.g., Google AdWords. Converting paid traffic into a lead via a contact us, registration, or download form is essential when considering the investment made to advertise to consumers during their online search.  

    We use A/B testing to determine which message resonates with our users as well as the page elements (image, call-to-action copy, and/or color, etc.) that produce the highest conversion rate. Running tests has allowed us to increase the return on our paid investment by growing the number of visitors we convert through a paid channel as well as informing our design decisions for future campaign landing pages. While not every test is a winner, we use failing tests to form new hypotheses inspiring future experiments.

  2. Measure pros and cons of a design change
    Website design changes are often proposed by multiple stakeholders. And, though these updates may be well thought out from the business perspective, they may not always keep the website visitor in mind.

    A/B testing has been a valuable method for us to validate the effect of our website changes on our visitors before committing to a design. For example, we experimented with a new design layout, testing the engagement with content links above the fold—i.e., the content visible within the browser prior to scrolling—versus below the fold. These tests not only helped us understand the effect placement on the page had on engagement, but also allowed us to strategically place links ensuring the most valuable content would not be missed.

  3. Improve the user journey
    Your website is important to your visitors—they have arrived there in search of a solution to fulfill a need. It is imperative once they get there that you lead them to the information they are seeking. A good user journey can make the difference between your visitors finding the information that leads them to trial (or maybe even purchase) your product or service, versus a bad user journey that may result in them frustrated and bouncing.

    For example, your visitors may be making multiple clicks to get to content one click away. You may wonder, why is this happening? Maybe your links aren’t visible, does the button color not stand out, or does the placement on the page not make sense? We have used similar questions to form the hypotheses of A/B tests to help us understand user behavior by comparing visitors seeing our original journey versus how they behave when experiencing a second variation of the journey. This data provides the insight we need to enhance the user experience for our website visitors.

Overall, A/B testing is an important practice to learn about your visitors, and it allows you to validate your hypotheses and continually optimize your website. Fortunately, today A/B testing can be easily accomplished through a testing tool either purchased as a standalone offering or integrated directly into your CMS, like Progress Sitefinity.

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