Ok, I’ll bite. I’ll jump on the bandwagon and post about Google Website Optimizer (WO). It seems that everyone is writing about it today so why not one more post? :)
We’ve been using WO for over a year and love it. It’s easy to use, very inexpensive (actually free) and provides tremendous value.
But what I’d like to stress is not the product, but the PROCESS. All of us know that testing is just one phase in our beloved Web Analytics process. Theoretically we should all be testing right now or else we’re just finding problems and not improving visitor experiences. The great thing about Website Optimizer is that it gives us all a robust testing platform.
If you’re new to testing then I urge you to learn about the testing process before diving into Website Optimizer. I know it’s tempting to jump right in and start using the tool, but read about the process first.
Why Process Matters
Testing, more than almost any other part of the web analytics process, needs to be structured. Why? Because if you do not methodically define what you are testing and how you will measure success, you may not know if your test actually worked.
Here’s something I rant about all the time…
Many people believe that all tests are measured using one simple metric: conversion rate. I disagree. While conversion rate may be affected by your test, there are many micro-actions that can, and should, be tested.
For example, let’s say you want to test your add-to-cart button color. You’re testing the color of the button to invoke an action from the visitor. What is the action? To get the visitor to click the button and add the item to the cart. Yes, the action of adding the item to the cart influences the overall conversion rate by moving the visitor through the conversion process, but when you design your test you need to know which action you want to measure. The goal of this test may be to increase the number of visitors who add an item to their cart by 10%, from 50% to 55%.
Where to Start
So, what are some good testing resources? How about Avinash’s blog. He’s got a great post entitled Experimentation and Testing: A Primer. Start there and then head over to FutureNow. They’ve got some great books about how to actually test. You can find two great starter guides at their online store. If you’re already familiar with the testing process then check out the Website Optimizer help section and start reading.
You’ll start to see more posts on this blog about WO and testing. Some posts will focus on the process and some about the tool. Kind of like my approach to web analytics and Google Analytics.
If you’ve been working with WO please feel free to comment, I’d love to hear you’re reaction to the product.
Bryan Eisenberg says
Thanks for mentioning our guides. I also would love to mention that we have 7 free resources for Google Website Optimizer, including a wordpress plugin, interview with Tom Leung from Google, a webinar, a quick start guide, and lots of tips on improving testing and conversions at http://www.grokdotcom.com/googlewebsiteoptimizer .
Jacques Warren says
You’re perfectly right ot stress the importance of the process. MVT, now made available to “the masses”, goes beyond applications: one needs to thoroughly control the process, or its benefits will just not happen.
Thanks for the feedback. I learned the hard way that every test needs to have a strict process in place. Only then will it be successful.
Thanks again for reading and sharing.
This page was very useful 2 me which you have given details is important to a starter but if you can provide step by step process it will be very clear to starter to success in testing.
Thanks for providing great information waiting for more useful stuff from you in future.
is there a recommendation for a new “stand alone” a/b testing tool by you, when Website Optimizer is integrated with Google Analytics now?
Justin Cutroni says
@Bjoern: If you’re looking for a standalone tool check out Optimizely. They’re doing some very impressive things.