No matter how many guides you read, or how much experience you gain, the only true way to get the most out of your website is to test and retest each element. After all, every audience is different, and as trends change and consumer needs evolve, a formerly winning strategy can quickly become obsolete.
Of course, it is one thing to know how successful your website is, and quite another to determine whether, with a few minor adjustments, it could be doing better.
This is where A/B testing comes in. Also known as split testing, this valuable optimization strategy enables you to fine tune your website, marketing communications, and any other content, by comparing the success of varying approaches.
The power and versatility of a split testing initiative means you can use it at every level of your marketing funnel, focusing on even the smallest details. However, this can take significant time and energy, so it is important to be methodical in your approach.
To help you with this, here are 10 features of your website to split test first, and the elements within them that you may be able to refine.
Recommended reading: Was Your Website Built Visible – SEO And Design Strategies
Your headlines need to tell visitors exactly what your business has to offer, without being too wordy or complex. This means picking out the features or services that are central to your brand’s identity.
Consider the value proposition offered by your headlines, and experiment with different wording to find the best fit. You can also try out different font styles, sizes, and colors, as well as adjusting the placement of your headlines in relation to associated text, offers, or calls to action.
2. Colors & Fonts
While the content of your website may be the most important aspect, it still needs to look visually appealing if you want visitors to remain onsite long enough to view it. A good place to start is by developing a color palette and collection of fonts that are in keeping with your existing branding.
A consistent color scheme helps users to recognize your brand, so it is important to keep this in mind when choosing palettes to test, and analyzing your results.
In addition, you should try not to use too many different fonts on one page. Instead, test which receive the best response, and mix and match fonts during the testing process to determine which work best together.
3. Call To Action
Your call to action is one of the most critical features on your web pages. After all, an effective CTA can secure leads, drive sales, and encourage social sharing. As such, this is a very valuable element to split test.
In general, you want your CTA button to be eye-catching and appealing, yet it also needs to be in keeping with the design of the rest of the page. A few variations to try could include the following:
- Isolating the button. Place your CTA in an area of white space, so other features cannot distract from it
- Altering the size. Larger buttons may be easier to spot, yet an oversized CTA could be off-putting, and harder to find a suitable place for on your page
- Changing the colors. Whether you simply alter the font color, or make the button stand out by using complementary color pairings, the palette used for your CTA can dramatically affect how it is perceived by visitors
- Accompanying graphics. Test the impact of adding visual elements, such as arrows, which guide users to your CTA
The overall layout of your website is an obvious place to start. During this process you can also test features such as on-site navigation, search features, and the format of your URLs.
While there are many individual features that you will also need to analyze in order to get a clear picture of what does and does not work for your business, a more general test can help you to choose the direction of your subsequent testing efforts.
The key reason for this is that your website needs to be coherent and consistent in its design. Yet, if you tested individual elements before determining the overarching aesthetic of your site, you could end up with a collection of individually promising features that do not work well when used together.
Experimenting with varied layouts can be disruptive to your business if not carried out efficiently. However, if you are using an ecommerce CMS or similar business automation solution, you will be able to uniformly adjust the aesthetic of content throughout your site, without needing to disrupt sales.
Whether you have built your website yourself, hired a team of crack designers to create something that’s beautiful and bespoke, or renovated an existing website, clear, concise copy is often the most effective way to get your message across. Not only that: it’s also the best way to keep your readers interested.
However, it is worth experimenting with copy of varying lengths and levels of detail to determine exactly what your customers are looking for.
The style and tone of your copy also makes a difference, as does the overall content. Not only must it be relevant to the subject of the page, but it must also be perceived as having some value to the reader.
In addition to finding out what sort of written content your readers prefer, you can also experiment with the format, testing items such as lists, reviews, and even step-by-step guides.
Whether you are operating at franchise level, just beginning, or have bought the website of another company in order to re-brand it, your website’s content is the thing that will not just separate you from your peers, but will forge the sort of deep relationship with your customers that every business must aspire to. Neglect content at your peril. – Victoria Greene, Founder of Victoria Ecommerce
6. Images & Videos
Smart use of video content can be extremely effective, especially on key pages, such as the landing page for a particular product or offer. However, it is important to ensure that this content is relevant to the page it is used on.
Features to test may include the length and subject of video content, as well as its placement on the page, and whether it autoplays or not. Other visual content should also be split-tested. For example, you may find that images on product pages are more successful if they show someone using the product, or it could be that your customers prefer a close-up of the product on its own.
For ecommerce stores, optimal choice and placement of images is especially important, as it can affect every product page, directly impacting your sales figures. But don’t stop there: make sure that your images are well-optimized and are loading at an optimal speed. GiftOfSpeed is a great tool that allows you to review how well optimized the images are for any page on your website.
When testing offers there is an additional level of complexity to consider, as it is important to ensure that the offers presented to each group are consistent. Otherwise, your results can be muddled by the possibility that customers hold off in case a better offer is presented to them, making it difficult to analyze the success of any offer in its own right.
Features to test range from the wording and placement of the offer, to the point in the customer journey at which it is encountered. Pinpointing the optimal time to present your offer to a potential customer is a great way to secure leads which are beginning to waver, or to help new customers make a final decision on the product or service they wish to purchase.
At the point that a visitor to your website considers filling in a form, you already have their interest. However, if that form is unclear, overly long, or difficult to navigate, it could cause your new lead to change their mind and look elsewhere.
Creating the perfect lead capture form requires a good knowledge of your audience, and a clear idea of what your business can offer in exchange for the information gathered. Several elements can influence the success of your forms, and ultimately, testing several variations is the best way to identify how to optimize each element.
A few details to test include the following:
- Progress bars. It may help to break your form down into sections. A progress bar removes any uncertainty about the form’s length, making it less likely that users will give up a couple of pages from the end
- Length of form. A lengthy form can be off-putting, yet too short a form may seem like an information grab with no value to the customer. Experiment with different numbers of fields, and make sure your form clarifies what they have to gain by signing up
- On-page placement. Is your form more successful above or below the fold? Do nearby elements such as images, video, or explainer text improve or decrease engagement? Encapsulating your form may also impact conversions
- Format of questions. Using varied, interactive elements, such as sliders, drop-downs, and check-boxes can make forms more engaging
9. Comparison Tables
If you plan to highlight the differences between yourself and your competitors, or even to portray the variation between your own services at different price points, a comparison table is a good place to start. However, the details included on that table can greatly affect its impact, so this is another important feature to split test.
In addition to experimenting with the content of the table, consider colors, font sizes, and the order in which items on the table are arranged. For example, while it may be tempting to omit a less favorable detail, that could appear dishonest if the reader picks up on it. However, if you instead juxtapose it with a positive comparison, you gain the benefit of transparency, while simultaneously mitigating the negative factor.
10. Social Proof
As much as your clients or customers may be influenced by your direct marketing efforts, one of the most powerful ways to build trust is to demonstrate that your business is already being used and favored by others.
This can come in the form of onsite testimonials, product reviews, and even badges or seals denoting awards given to your website. However, learning which pieces of social proof to display, and in what quantities, is just one more thing that is facilitated by split-testing.
Experiment with the placement of your social proof, considering how relevant your choices are to the other content on the page. Test whether testimonials perform better when they are from businesses or from individuals, and find out whether reviews have more impact if they include an associated image or video.
Although the term A/B testing implies just two variants, numerous approaches can be tested simultaneously. Often, these tests will also include a “control”, which will usually be your existing layout, in order to monitor the fairness of the test.
After your initial optimization of your website, it can be tempting to assume your testing requirements are done. However, in order to maintain your website’s success, you will need to continually reassess its performance.
Fortunately, this does not need to mean constantly retesting every element on your website. Tools such as marketing funnel automation software, content management systems, and analytics tools can help you to identify when areas of your website begin to perform less well. This allows you to continually target your ongoing optimization efforts according to the ever-changing needs of your business.