Testing Your Web Site

Do you like to take tests? How about give tests? For many of us testing is something we did a long time ago when we were in school.

But it shouldn’t be. We should be testing things on our web sites all the time. There are two powerful reasons why:

  1. Testing your web site leads to a better site and a better understanding of how it works (in other words, it helps you make more money).
  2. Testing your web site doesn’t have to be a big, expensive endeavor and neither does it have to be time consuming.

We all have opinions about what works best visually but when we test these opinions, surprises abound. I came across a test that surprised me on the Which Test Won web site this week: http://whichtestwon.com/archives/18744. Breaking up the visual monotony by alternating photos from left to right seems like a no-brainer.  Only that isn’t what actually engaged people. Having all the photos down the right side is what worked – even with the right column having other images.

If your site doesn’t get a ton of visitors, you can still do testing – the tests just need to go a bit longer. You can test simple things like does making the button green instead of blue get better results. You can test whether your call to action should be to fill out a form or to call you. You can test different copy. Take a look at your site or better yet get a colleague to look at your site and see what is clear for them and what isn’t. Then create a test based on that.

And it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Simply create the two versions you want to test and use a free tool like Google Analytics to set your test up. The more traffic you have to your site, the sooner you’ll get results that are valid but if your traffic is low, you can simply run the test for a bit longer.

Sometimes the answers you uncover will surprise you. But isn’t it better to be surprised and understand what not to do than to just sail along, never quite understanding what is working and what isn’t?