Testing your website

Testing your website: is it necessary…

You’ve designed your website, optimised it for the search engines, now it’s ready to go, right? Possibly, but possibly not.

Recent research carried out by Econsultancy and RedEye (http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/63768-just-71-of-companies-test-their-websites-stats) has revealed that only 71% of businesses test their websites. The finding comes from a survey of around 1,000 marketers carried out this year. The research also found that companies with improving conversion rates over the past 12 months had carried out around 50% more tests than those with flat performance.

Amongst those who regularly put their website through its paces, the most commonly tested aspects of the site were call to action buttons, page layout, copy and navigation.

Making testing a part of your website development process

In light of the better performance of websites carrying out more extensive tests, testing could perhaps be seen as something that any webmaster could benefit from carrying out. The information you can gain from these tests can help you to improve the design of your website and thus increase conversions. But where to start?

The first step is to decide what exactly you will test. In addition to those elements mentioned above, checkout process, promotions and offers, images and product selection process were also amongst those website area frequently tested. In order to decide what you should test, you should perhaps start with the question, ‘what areas of my website could be improved?’

Once you know what you’re testing then you need to decide how you’re going to test it. There are two main methods of testing. These are:

A/B (or split) testing

This type of test involves the creation of two or more versions of the same page, and then splitting test traffic between them. By introducing variables both small and radical you should be able to get a clearer idea of what is working and what isn’t.

Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing is a little more complicated, but if it’s handled correctly it can be a powerful tool. It compares a much larger number of variables, and also enables you to see how effective different design combinations are. As well as revealing what works, it can also show which specific elements of a page are most critical.

Website testing is by nature an evolving process, and the best way to do it is to dive in and find out what works.