Why You Should A/B Test Your Website

You’re working on a website redesign and two of the stakeholders can’t seem to agree on a color scheme for call to action blocks. One person thinks a dark blue box with a light blue button will get the most conversions. The other thinks a light blue box with a white button would be more attention-grabbing. Do you choose the first option, or the second?

Why not both?

What is A/B Testing?

There’s a scientific way to solve the argument and prove who’s right. A/B testing involves a randomized experiment where half of your site visitors see a control (A) for a certain element, and the other half see a variable (B) of that element.

For example, group A sees the light blue button while group B sees the white button. The goal of the experiment is to determine which button color gets more clicks, and which of your coworkers has to buy the other a beer.

You might be thinking, “My website works just fine! Why complicate things with a bunch of fancy tests?”

The truth is, your website could always be better. A/B testing is a surefire way to continuously make improvements to the functionality, user experience, and success of your website. It helps you further understand user behavior on your site and pinpoint the areas that need work.

Increase Engagement and Conversions

The real benefit of A/B testing lies in conversion rate optimization (CRO). Run some A/B tests to determine which changes to implement to increase your website’s conversion rates over time.

Change button colors, copy, or page layout. Play around with the placement of your call to action. Do you get more conversions when it’s located above the fold or below? Are there too many steps in your checkout process, or two many fields to fill out on your contact us form? You can A/B test as many variations as your heart desires.

The post by VWO shares how ten companies improved conversion rates through various experiments, from removing a drop-down menu to a minor change in a header image.

Improve User Experience

The main goal of A/B testing is CRO, but CRO and user experience (UX) work together. By analyzing the user experience on your site first, you can determine the current user workflow and decide how you want this workflow to change. Based on this research, A/B tests will help you guide users into the workflow that you want.

Where do your users expect certain page elements to be when the page loads? What’s the best navigation position for your contact us page? Does your color scheme or typography make your copy more difficult to read?

A/B testing can help you validate UX decisions to maximize user interest and engagement.

Understand User Behavior

Your site isn’t the same as every other site. A red button may work great on someone else’s site, but fail to get many conversions on yours. The most effective choice may also not be what you would expect.

This Optimizely post shares a case study from the Obama campaign. The campaign ran A/B tests early on and found that the most effective image and CTA combination was not what they expected.

As a result, they saw an increase of $60 million in donations. Had they not run these experiments, they would have chosen the options that their staff liked best, rather than what worked best with their users.

Every test that you run will give you further insight into your users’ behavior. What type of language do they respond to? Do they prefer shorter copy with more powerful words? Or maybe they’re more likely to respond to longer form copy. Do they prefer to see an image or a video?

You can guess, but you won’t know for sure until you test it.

Start Experimenting

A/B testing provides valuable insight into user behavior on your website. After running a few tests and implementing the results, you should see increased engagement and conversions, and your site’s user experience will have improved significantly.

To get started, check out some tools like OptimizelyVWO, or Google Optimize.

Have you already run A/B tests on your site? Let us know how it improved your site’s usability and conversions!