There is a new up and coming AB Split testing service for WordPress called WP-ABTesting that aims to help you optimize websites based on data, not opinions. Anytime I’ve heard of anyone wanting an A/B testing plugin, I’ve referred them to ShrimpTest by Mitcho and Automattic however, it appears that development on that plugin has ceased as it hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. There is also a plugin mentioned by PostStat.us called AB Press Optimizer. WP-ABTesting took some time out to answer a few questions I had about their service.
Tell us a bit about the WP AB Testing service.
We provide a native conversion optimization service for WordPress sites. Our aim is to increase your conversion rates (whatever your conversion goal is: more sign-ups, sales, visitors,…) in a systematic and scientific way. Opinions are great but only if they are used to start a data-driven experiment to (dis)prove them before deciding on whether to implement them or not. Nobody (not even you) is good enough to predict what will work for your site.
At the core of our service you have an A/B testing (also known as split testing) mechanism. In its simplest form, A/B testing works by predefining two or more alternatives for a given post or page and the conversion goal you want to achieve with them, and then randomly showing those alternatives to your visitors to check which one works better, i.e. which one has a higher conversion rate. For instance, you may want to create two alternative versions of your landing page, show 50% of the time each alternative and monitor which one makes more of your visitors to sign-up for your mailing list. Once the results are statistically significant (don’t be scared, we will hide all the math from you, just keep reading!) you consolidate the winning alternative and start again with a new test.
What will WP AB Testing have that may not be found in plugins or other similar services?
Most tools focus on the classic AB testing: you define the tests and the tools report on the number of conversions of each alternative. We believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our service goes beyond this in two main directions:
- - Technical level. We don’t want to restrict people to test only posts / pages with a standard AB Testing algorithm. Since our service is a native WordPress solution we can offer fine-grained tests in which other WordPress components (like menus, widgets or the theme itself) can be tested as well. Then, the plug-in automatically evolves the site based on the results of those tests (obviously, only if you want the plug-in to do that for you). We’ll also complement A/B testing with other testing / optimization strategies like greedy algorithms and heat maps to offer a better picture of what’s going on in the site. Another example we have in our future roadmap is to enable the use of social metrics as conversion goals (i.e. an alternative post is better if it gets reshared more times) which we believe can be interesting for some sites.
- - Personalization level. Raw data on the percentage of improvement of an alternative may be enough for math savvy users but won’t do much for the rest. We believe in A/B testing for everybody which means that our service will help people to understand the meaning of the numbers they see to make an informed decision. And, more importantly, for those that want a more hassle-free experience, we will offer a personalized service where one of our company experts will suggest possible tests for your site (e.g. based on ours and the community experience on what has worked in other sites in the same domain) and even create and monitor the tests for you.
Why is AB Testing an important practice to conduct on websites from time to time?
First, I’d like to “challenge” the fact that AB Testing should be done “from time to time”. In our opinion, you should always be optimizing your site. Even if some optimizations may only bring a small improvement, they add up so the overall effect may well surprise you!.
A second reason, which is not usually mentioned, is that you are going to learn a lot about your site and your business when doing A/B tests. Many people regard A/B tests as mere small changes on the look and feel of your site (e.g. changing the color of a button here, increasing the size of an image there,…) but they can be much more powerful than that. I regard them as a learning tool for the business owner. Just thinking about possible tests gives you a perfect excuse to reconsider your business assumptions and offers a low-risk approach to test alternative approaches that otherwise you would have never dared to try. And if the test fails (meaning that your current version doesn’t need to be changed) you should even be happier. Failed tests are as useful as successful ones. They allow you to get rid of possible scenarios that now you know for sure wouldn’t work.
Why the decision to turn WP AB Testing into a dedicated service instead of a fully featured plugin?
We try to combine the best of both worlds: a WP plug-in on the “client” side that the user can install to define the tests, see the graphics with the results, consolidate the winning alternative,… all without leaving the WordPress environment (meaning there is no need to learn a new tool) plus an external back-end that takes care of recording and processing all the relevant data to evaluate the performance of the alternatives tested.
We believe this makes a lot of sense, again both at the technical and business level. On the technical side we lift all the processing load from your own server so that the tests do not slow down your site or interfere with your hosting provider limits. On the business side, because an ongoing relationship is needed to be able to advise you on your best testing strategy (by checking what has worked and what hasn’t worked so far for you), on new tests that we believe could be specially useful for you, etc.
Don’t forget that A/B Testing is only the means to an end (optimize your conversions) and not the end itself. Our mission is to make sure you bring your site to the next level, not just to provide you with a tool to do all the work on your own.
How can people be notified and participate in the beta?
Just go to our website and join our mailing list in less than 30 seconds. We’ll immediately contact you to get to know you better (what are your needs, expectations, etc) and give you more details about the beta program.