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Back To Basics: How To A/B Test

If you are set on maximising the functionality of your website over an extended period, it is important to ensure you look at ways to improve the parts visitors interact with when using your site.

This is where A/B testing can help.


A/B Testing

Also known as split testing A/B testing is the process of comparing the performance of two versions of a web pages' features to find the option that produces the best outcomes for the desired result.  

Whether it be a different coloured Call-To-Action button resulting in more conversions or a different form layout producing more signups A/B tests are designed to prove the option with the best outcomes.

How To A/B Test

Think of A/B testing as a scientific experiment designed to prove or disprove that an isolated change to an element on your website proves a measurable improvement.

Generally an existing control version (A) is compared with a variation (B).

The process for an A/B test is as follows:

  1. Brainstorm: Come up with ideas for what you would like to see improved, e.g. increased signups, and what elements could be changed to create a variation, e.g. a change in colour, copy, shape or size of a call-to-action button.
  2. Create Hypotheses: Once you have settled on what you want to improve, create a hypothesis, e.g. "Including a 'Top Seller' badge next to products increases sales".
  3. Establish Test Data Required: An A/B test requires a certain amount of traffic to produce a result that produces a conclusive result.  For an idea of the amount of webs traffic required use Optimizely's A/B Test Sample Size Calculator.

  4. Setup and Run A/B Test: Once you've settled on what you're testing, create the variation and using A/B testing software setup your chosen webpage to split traffic across the control and variation.
  5. Analyse Data: After the required web traffic has visited your test page assess the results to determine if your hypotheses has been proven or not.  If your conclusion agrees with you hypotheses, progress with changes, if it is disproved return to step 2 to test another variation.


7 Applications Of A/B Testing

With an A/B testing process in place you can look to test any number of elements on your website to uncover the best performing version for your website's objectives. 

  1. Headlines Test anything from size, colour and content of headlines to establish the best performing combination.
  2. Forms: Subtle changes to elements of a form can help to smooth out pain points for customers filling in your forms.
  3. Call-To Action Buttons: Changing anything from the copy, colours, size, placement or style can have an impact on conversion rates of buttons.
  4. Colours, Fonts, Images: Design elements like text fonts, colours and style can influence the actions of users on your site.  Not sure which image to place on a page, test two against each other to find out what has the best outcome.    
  5. Copy: Altering your website's copy to include buzz words like 'Free' or action orientated words like 'Reserve' or 'Join' 
  6. Testimonial or Social Proof: Adding testimonials or social proof can give customers the confidence to act, an A/B test can confirm or deny this theory. 
  7. Email Subject Lines: Wanting to improve email open rates? A/B testing two types of subject lines will measure which received a better open rate.