Many firms launch a new website or software application without testing the user interface design. This is bad and can lead to a substantial loss in sales and customers. To save the day and substantial amounts of money, I use Google Website Optimizer.
During the course of a project I normally conduct usability testing at the beginning and end of project. This is great for gaining real insights into how different users are interacting with your website or software application. There are many advantages to this but but also some drawbacks, such as:
- It is time consuming and therefore expensive so for small firms it is often neglected.
- Getting the correct sample base of test users is very important in creating a true representation of your customers.
- You can only test a certain amount of design variations within the allocated time.
This is where Google Website Optimizer comes into to save the day!
The great thing about Google Website Optimizer is that you can define as many design variations as you like and then run an experiment to see which one works best. The beauty of this is that you will be testing your new designs using real customers and live data, so you can quickly see what works and what doesn't.
The basic technical functionality of Google Website Optimizer is that you define a region in your page that you would like to test. You then define a conversion page that a user will reach during the test, this can be anything from a newsletter sign up page, a free trial sign up page, succesfully adding a product to a shopping cart or completing the checkout process. After you have defined your goals you simply install the Google Website Optimizer tracking scripts on the test page and conversion page, define your design variation and click run experiment.
The results speak for themselves with some of my clients seeing dramatic increases in conversion rates for what can sometimes be a very small change to a page design. My advice is to test every idea you have, no matter how small, because it could be that your customers don't want a new design they simply want different wording or different button to click on. Finally, don't rule out traditional usability testing but by all means utilize Google Website Optimizer to your advantage to streamline your interactive design project.
P.S. I've got some interesting tips for Magento Multivariate Testing that will feature on my blog soon. I'll keep you posted.