A/B testing - a direct route to increased conversions

By Tom Glass topicIcon Apple, Google

Tom Glass Creative Director theEwordtheEword's creative director, Tom Glass, explains the importance of A/B testing

It can be easy to overlook the importance of design in website optimisation. Sadly, many digital companies focus all their attention on SEO and ignore the next stage of optimisation – what happens when a user clicks through to a landing page. A website needs to be optimised for design as well as Google’s spiders.

Good SEO can result in a page one ranking but it cannot reduce a high bounce rate. At theEword, we specialise in creating websites tailored for the user as well as the search engine. As creative director, it is my responsibility to ensure that a website's design increases conversion rates. A/B testing – creating two different designs and monitoring the conversion rate of each – is an important part of this.

A/B testing isn’t just a case of manufacturing two very different pages and putting them both live, but rather a complicated process which requires patience and restraint - adjusting a colour or moving a button in order to see which page elements and changes have a tangible effect on user experience. Even a small change can subtly increase click-through and conversion rates. For example:

Simple example of theEword AB test
The nuances of A/B testing

A/B testing is website design with a scalpel rather than a hatchet; incremental changes made over a set period of time. It is a procedure which subtly alters a single element in order to achieve a higher conversion rate. A/B testing isn’t for the impatient and a test needs to run for a minimum of two hundred clicks in order to produce substantial results. It is a softly-softly approach to website design.

At theEword we have a number of ways to ensure a website fulfils its potential. We invest time and resources into building and discovering tools in order to optimise the design of a client’s website. Our latest instrument includes a ‘heat-map’; a program which show where on a page users are clicking. This allows us to see which elements of a design are attracting attention and which are not.

A/B testing is not a quick process and, much like SEO, it is not a concrete science. There are no laws and there are no set rules to website design. My experience in the digital industry has taught me that A/B testing requires patience and expertise. It is not enough just to drive people to your site; your designs have to motive them into action while they’re there.