October 22nd, 2013

Book Review: A/B Testing

A/B Testing by Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen, founders of Optimizly wrote this book as a 101 guide to testing elements of digital communications. Through full case studies down to short examples, the book teaches which elements can be tested in communications, how to do it and most importantly, how to convince your colleagues to let you do it.

Everything online can be tested and should be tested against pre-determined goals and objectives for the communications. After reading this book, there is no valid argument for not testing. Even for those that worry testing delays the project, in truth, it makes the development process more efficient because the end project is more effective.

Notable passages:

First determine “What is your website for? If you could make your website do one thing better, what would it do?”

“Pinpointing the specific actions you want people to take most on your site and that are more critical to your business will lead you to the tests that have an impact.”

“If all you measure is clicks, you’ll have know whether the content of the actual post is good. More telling metrics might be call-to-action clicks, comments, shares and repeat visits.”

“Data is what matters.”

“You have to have a rule that if anybody feels strangle about testing something, you test it.”

“We usually give folks some pretty straightforward advice when they ask about how to improve their calls to action: verbs over nouns. In other words, if you want somebody to do something, tell them to do it.”

“Consider weekly, monthly, or quarterly results-sharing meetings with key stakeholders.”

“A/B testing is by nature interdisciplinary and cross-departmental. Collaboration is key.”

“Always Be Testing.”

“One of the reasons why A/B testing is so important is that there are no universal truths when it comes to design and user experience. If universal truths existed, then A/B testing wouldn’t: you’d just look at the rulebook.”

“The truth is that every business is different; you won’t know until you test.”

“Maintain records about who tested what and when, how the test was set up, and what the result was. This will enable your organization to work collaboratively to build up a set of collective wisdom and best practices.”

The book is complete with an appendix of recommended elements for testing. This is a definite must read for any website strategist, designer or developer.

(Thumbs up to Dustin Williams for the recommendation.)

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Link to book on Amazon