If you’ve ever had a boardroom (or family) argument about design direction or page layout (button color, messaging, logo size, use of video, amount of text) then you’re not alone. We’ve all been there and most often it’s the boss who wins the argument.
A/B testing allows you to remove conjecture from these types of decision and is the basis for any conversion rate optimization strategy. It lets you pit different pages against one another in a contest or experiment to see which performs (converts) the best.
There are many tools available that aim to make this process simple:
- Google Website Optimizer (GWO) – requires that you have some technical chops to set up scripts throughout your pages, but it is free
- Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) – a visual alternative to GWO and also includes some advances features like heatmaps/clickmaps
- Optimizely – similar to VWO it lets you make testing changes in a visual environment
- Unbounce (disclaimer: I’m a co-founder) – dedicated to creating and testing new landing pages specifically, whereas the other solutions listed are targeted more at testing (rather than creating) pages
You know you want to run a test, but what exactly should you test? A little bit earlier (#34) we used the landing page scorecard to help you figure out what you should be changing on your page. Refer back to this when you conceptualize and design an alternative page for testing.
NOOB TIP: If you aren’t using standalone landing pages yet and don’t really know how to make a landing page that converts well you might want to read HOW TO: Create a landing page design concept in 10 minutes.
Another great way to do a gut check on your landing pages is to run a 5-second test. The theory here is that most visitors only spend about that much time on your page before deciding to stay or leave. In other words, you have to get your sales pitch in one ear and hopefully not out the other in a fraction of the typical elevator ride (where an elevator pitch is more like a 30-second spew).
To run the test, find a relevant guinea pig (ideally someone from your target market who hasn’t been exposed to your brand before) and sit them in front of a computer. Flash your page up on screen for 5-10 seconds then take it down again. Ask the user what the page was about. If they didn’t “get” your value proposition or understand what the page is asking you to do, then it needs to be simplified.
Cool tool: FiveSecondTest.com lets you run these tests online in front of their user base.
NOOB TIP: Remove, rinse, repeat
To improve your page, you need to simplify it. Try removing as much text as you can while leaving the purpose intact. Add some whitespace for clarity and ease of visual browsing. Use a clear and succinct header (this the most important thing for this type of test). Then try the test again (with a new set of subjects) and see how many more people “get” the page than before.