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Optimization Testing - What Is It and How to Do It Right?

Improving your website doesn’t end at employing the best staff to implement your vision. Sometimes you need to listen to the voice of the people. This is where optimization testing comes in. Let’s dive into that subject to learn what it is and how it can help you.

What’s optimization testing?

First of all, what is optimisation testing? Simply put, it helps you test the impact of your changes based on key performance metrics of your choice. With the help of optimization testing, you no longer have to rely on your intuitions and can choose solutions that are proven to work best for your website.

Where to begin

How to start your journey with optimization testing? Before going further with the technical stuff, we should establish two things necessary for our testing to be meaningful.

First of all, we need a hypothesis. Let’s imagine you are the owner of a successful internet shop and people complain that accessing the shopping cart on the page can be challenging. In this case, our hypothesis would be that users have difficulties getting to the cart, and thus cannot/will not finalize the order.

The next thing we need is a goal, i.e. the result we want to achieve. Your first thought might be that the goal is always to “earn more money!”, but the goals can vary depending on the hypothesis. In this case, the goal is pretty simple: to have more people with items in their basket finalize an order.

How to choose the best testing method for your product

Now that we have our priorities set, let’s get to the bottom of this and pick the most suitable kind of test for us. We can choose from the two types presented below:

  • A/B testing, or split testing, takes place when we divide the traffic into equal parts and present different content for each part. This is the easiest and least demanding way of optimization testing, as the basic test requires only the default variant (your current content) and an alternative version.

  • MVT testing (multivariate), on the other hand, serves different combinations of tested elements to establish the best-performing experience. MVT testing requires more effort than A/B in terms of preparation (at least two separate elements of the page have to be altered). The upside is that it will produce a more precise outcome.

Let’s use our internet shop example to illustrate how it works in real life.

In terms of A/B testing, the things are pretty simple. Let’s say that we prepare an alternative version of our site, where a big red button with “CART” written on it is present at the top of every page on your website to test it against your current design. While this is just an exaggerated example, it shows what you can expect from such test.

If we would like to apply an MVT test to our shop, however, we need to make at least two changes to a single webpage. To simplify things a little, let’s say that element A will be the big red “CART” button at the top of the page, and element B will be the same button at the bottom of the page. In such case, all placement variants of the “CART” button will be tested against each other to reveal the best-performing experience.

Pros and cons of both types of tests

A/B testing

+ Easy to start with

+ Provides quick results

- Can only be used for simple tests

- The output data is as simple as the test 

MVT testing

+ Allows for intricate tests

+ Provides complex data

- Difficult in implementation

- Requires more time to get the data

As you can see, the two methods differ from each other quite a bit. An important thing to remember is that they are not meant to contradict each other – you can use them in a complementary fashion. Each one has some pros and cons, and the usage of both should be determined by your needs as well as the type and size of your website.

Summing up

Knowing your hypothesis, goal and the type of approach you want to take, you’re all set to begin your journey with optimization. Now the hardest part is up to you: create new, better content, and then let the users decide. Remember that even seemingly irrelevant things can have a significant impact on your page, and optimization testing is the tool that will help you find out what their impact is.

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