What is A/B testing? Conveniently enough, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A/B testing is simultaneously running version A (the control/original/currently implemented) against version B (the new design/the latest and greatest/what you think might be successful). This type of format can be used in various conditions but when we refer to A/B testing, we are strictly talking website design. This process gives us no excuses for having a site that does little to help our conversion rate, many corporations would be well served to remember that!
Here is a simple diagram for all you visuals- (myself included)
Based upon what A/B testing is about; it would make sense for businesses to be consistently running some form of an A/B test on their site, at all times. Customer wants and needs change, so keeping your website as in tune with those changes will lead to the greatest conversions. Even small changes can have a substantial impact, for example the use of the “submit” button. The “submit” button has been shown to hinder sales; making simple changes like doing-away-with it can yield greater online transactions. Color schemes are also a commonly tested aspect with A/B- but don’t be fooled, it’s easy to be mislead with preconceived notions of what online customers will be partial towards. Your gut feeling might just be the wrong one- test, test ,test!
I stumbled upon a great quote about what A/B testing is at its core, “When a company builds a system for experimentation, the cost of testing and experimental failure becomes small, thus encouraging innovation through experimentation. Failing fast and knowing that an idea is not as great as was previously thought helps provide necessary course adjustments so that other more successful ideas can be proposed and implemented.”
I will say it’s more difficult then I would have initially imagined, to find visual examples of business implementing great A/B testing. Granted, I know these are not the most recent, but they are well thought out:
One of the concerns many seem to have is that A/B breeds less creative and innovative web design. Taking what used to be a labor intensive and artistic- and giving consumers control in choosing among a set of alternatives. Although it makes sense that consumers choose their online experience, doesn’t it hinder the creative? The point may be a valid one, but in any case, the consumer has an increasingly strong voice in all aspects of a brand, and the website is no different. They reward companies who listen and respond, by choosing to buy their products.
When the risk involved in A/B testing is so low, and the potential return is so great, it’s hard to understand why more corporations aren’t taking advantage of such opportunities. It’s important to keep the following in mind as you being the process:
*Let the test run it’s course, don’t conclude too early
*Show repeat site visitors the same version of the test every time
*Keep the A/B testing consistent, site wide
Oh so subtle, Doritos.