Tom Schmitz // Jan 28 2010
Full disclosure: I am not a designer. I cannot select color palettes. My favorite textures involve brushed steel. Whenever
I walk by, our design team seems either out for coffee or in a meeting. That said, even I can recognize colossal web design
blunders. It's amazing how the perfectly wrong photo will rip the eyes out of your sockets and whimper them off from a web
page's correct eye-tracking path.
Design is subjective. You see the world like no one else. What seems like a perfectly comforting image to you and me might
creep-out an animal rights activist or a mommy blogger. Even if we cannot see it, the wrong image or font or color can kill
your sales. Luckily A/B testing and multivariate testing programs can come to our rescue. Used together with a web analytics
package they can provide near-instantaneous feedback.
A/B testing is when you select one design element and compare two or more solutions. In one test you might show half your
visitors the image above while showing the other half the image below. During an A/B test, keep an eye on your conversion
rates or click-through rates to see which image invokes the better response from your visitors.
Multivariate testing is similar to A/B testing except that you test different elements at the same time. You might try
two different images in one test, compare font sizes in another and a try different background color in a third. During a
multivariate test all three variables get tested at the same time and in different combinations. Remember, you can test words
and paragraphs too.
Now that you know about testing, ask yourself, would Simon Cowell send your design skills to Hollywood? Or, are you
visually tone deaf? Start testing your website today. You can even do
A/B testing for free.