Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Usability Testing Approaches: A Review Of Split A/B Testing

The benefits of A/B testing for website design ...

"If you are into making serious business with your online web presence and you have advertising on your pages or you sell products or services online, making sure that your web visitors do not get lost when finding out where to click when to order, or making sure that your contextual ads are placed in the best and most clicked position on the page is of the essence.

In all of these cases the very best way to find out what works from what does not, is to run some serious A/B testing on each and every one of your critical items.

A/B usability testing approaches give you the opportunity not simply to correct and change something that doesn't work as successfully as expected, but offer you a unique advantage: pitching multiple alternatives against each other to see, among alternatives solutions, which one would work best while measuring its numerical impact relative to others.

... Following on from any website usability study a number of usability problems are usually found. There can often be debate within any organisation as to the best solution for each problem, with no one really knowing the optimal solution. Rather than letting the person that shouts the loudest get his or her own way, a better solution can be to test two solutions in a live environment. Whichever performs the best is clearly the superior solution. Welcome to split A/B testing!

Did you hear the story of the donkey stood in the middle of two equally appealing stacks of hay? He spent so long trying to decide which one to start eating first that the poor animal starved to death without having moved a single inch. This paradox, first discussed by Aristotle is known as "Buridan's ass" and is an often discussed psychological phenomenon.

If you're managing a website you might face similar situations when you need to decide which of two different designs to opt for. Nowadays, you need to continuously improve and evolve your site by making small frequent adjustments.

But how do you know which change will have the highest impact on the customer experience?

Split A/B testing is a way of finding out which changes help your users' performance. It provides a controlled method of measuring the effectiveness (or not) of alterations to your site. It's often used for small tweaks (e.g. "Is this style heading clearer than the original?") but can also be used to test bigger wholesale changes (e.g. "Is this new 1-click checkout process better?"). In essence, it involves running two different versions side by side to see which is more effective."    (Continued via Robin Good)    [Usability Resources]

Buridan's Ass and A/B Testing - Usability, User Interface Design

Buridan's Ass and A/B Testing


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