The big buzzwords that are typically attached to the building of a website usually include SEO, user experience, responsive design, internet marketing and a few others. While A/B testing is often left out of the conversation, this is an essential process that can optimize a website’s performance and maximize its conversion rate.
So, What is it?
A/B testing takes two versions of a webpage and then compares how visitors interact with the different elements on each page. When testing is being done on an existing site the “A” page, also referred to as the control page, will usually be the interface that is currently in use. The “B” page is also called the variant page and will be designed with 1, 2 or several elements that are different from the control page.
What Gets Tested?
A/B testing can be run on a wide variety of elements including page layout, the headline, background color, text color, and the wording of the call to action. While these are all viable assessments, one of the most common A/B tests focuses on an essential element of every purchase; the “Buy” button. Here’s an example of how an A/B test could be set up to determine the optimal configuration and placement of a buy button. The existing control/A page has a single small gray buy button just above the footer (admittedly horrible placement, which is being used to support the example). The variant/B page changes the color of the button to red, makes it larger and places it near the fold of the page.
A/B tests are driven by software programs that can be customized for each assessment. In most tests, the interface that is presented to visitors alternates between the A page and the B page to ensure an even split for collected data. In a buy button test, data is collected on the number of times visitors click the buy button on each page version. As you probably guessed, the B page, with a button that is more visible, larger, and easier to find would likely have a much larger percentage of conversions. In addition to being statistically true, the conclusion fits in beautifully with the premise of the article.
Does it Matter?
Yes, it absolutely does. An A/B test can reveal page elements that improve conversions immediately and increase a business’ revenues. This is due in large part to the fact that collecting quantitative data about how different pages perform eliminates the guesswork and assumptions that are commonly used to build web pages. In addition to generating short term benefits, A/B testing enables businesses to learn and then cater to the preferences of their visitors. This enhances the user experience, which encourages repeat visits and purchases over the long term as well.