Man sitting on a roof, looking at the city's skyline and thinking

Every person who has a website looks for ways to improve it to achieve their goals: get more readers, sell more products, get more influence… Many choose to use data-based techniques to make informed decisions and not screw up. One of the most common techniques is A/B testing, which compares two versions of the same website to see which one is better. It’s the scientific method adapted to the web and for all audiences. So far it sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

However, there is a lot of literature out there that can get you in trouble if you follow it blindly. Doing things in a hurry when you are A/B testing is your worst enemy and can lead you to make mistakes.

In Nelio we have identified several common mistakes. Today we are going to talk about them so that you do not make them again.

Testing Without a Purpose is Useless

If you explored on the Internet to find out articles about A/B testing, you will have found thousands of them including magical examples. They tell you without any doubt what to do to increase your conversion rate on your site. Ok, but be careful!

Here the mistake is to blindly follow what those articles do and repeat it nonsensically. Don’t do it. You better spend a few minutes thinking about your website and what you want to achieve with it. What is the purpose of your website? Once you know it clearly, then you can think of changes that can help you improve the achievement of your goal. After that, run A/B tests.

If you don’t think about your goal and you start testing the same things these articles tested, you are wasting your time. Your website is unique, like your audience and your goals. Focus on this first and then propose changes to test and improve your site.

” If It Works For You, It Works For Me”

It may be that some of the examples or case studies you find out there fit within the scope of possible changes to try on your website… so why shouldn’t you apply the results to your site?

You make the same change that this article you found on the Internet proposes. And you’re confident about the changes. These changes will be better than what you already have, because that is what happened in that article. So if in that article they say that red buttons are the ones that work best, you don’t even test it. You just change the color of all the buttons on your site. And of course you choose red.

Why should you test a change on your website if this Internet expert is telling you that red is the best? It’s on the Internet, therefore it must be true…

Man jumps into a pool and another man tries to imitate him but fails
What works for some may not work for you. Be careful when imitating unconsciously the “success” of others.

If someone tells you on the Internet that the best buttons are red, perfect. But it is possible that for your audience and your website what works better is something different. That’s why it is important to test the changes with an A/B test. Avoid applying them directly. What works for you may or may not work for me.

By Making Subtle Changes You Won’t See Any Change

You’ve probably seen the typical example of Google testing link colors in search results. They tested a lot of different shades of blue for the color of the links to see which particular shade caused visitors to click more on them. The result? A simple change in the color of the links made Google make a lot more money.

Now you’ll think that testing the color of your web links is the best A/B test you should run. The truth is that for Google, the color of the links in the search results page is a primary goal for their business model. In addition, the traffic they have is immense, which allows them to be able to run this kind of tests.

If you test a different shade for the color of your links on your website, what will happen is that nobody will notice it. In addition, it will take you a lot of time to have conclusive results (if any). I’m sorry to be the one to say it, but I’m sure your website has less traffic than Google. Also, I don’t think the color of your links is a priority for your business goals.

When you run an A/B test, try to test changes that make a difference in your page so that this can be seen in the results. You’ll need statistically significant results in order to draw strong conclusions from them.

Doing Everything Different Will Kill Your Web

Are you telling me then that I have to make radical changes on my website to see if such changes are better? No, I didn’t say that.

Visitors are used to surfing the Internet finding a series of repeated patterns of interaction. If the changes you try are so radical that they break the way your visitors expect your site to work, you will cause confusion and then the results will be negative.

Homer tries to press any key on an old computer
Don’t confuse your visitors or your site will pay dearly for it.

Buttons should look like buttons if you want visitors to click on them. The shopping cart must use a real shopping cart icon, or a shopping bag or somewhat similar. A form must look like a form. If you use different patterns, you may break the user experience.

Too much innovation on the Internet comes at a price. You decide if you want to pay it or not. Just focus on making changes that have an impact on your visitors but not on the user experience of your website. I know, it’s easier said than done. But when in doubt, don’t get complicated. Simple things tend to work better.

A/B Testing is The Priority. Everything Else Comes Next…

Another beginner’s mistake is to start experimenting with your website through A/B testing when your website is not even working with a minimum quality.

Eisenberg pyramid of web optimization.
Eisenberg pyramid of web optimization.

A while ago I talked in this blog about the web optimization pyramid. Basically, what this pyramid represents is the needs that your web has to cover.

The optimization of the conversion rate can be found at the top of the pyramid. Before focusing on this you must make sure that your website works properly and is accessible and easy to use. If you don’t have all this covered, running A/B tests like crazy is ineffective.

I Don’t Get a 200% Improvement in My Site. Why?

Marketing specialists love fancy numbers. But the problem is that this can cause you some anxiety if in your specific case the results of your A/B tests do not produce immense profits at once.

I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot (I remind you that we make a living selling Nelio A/B Testing, among other plugins), but you should not expect incredible results every time you run an A/B test. The optimization of your conversion rate is a long marathon and not a short sprint.

It’s not about discovering the magic change that boosts your website. Because it may be the case that such change does not exist. Be patient and go step by step. Sometimes you will find changes that produce good results. Sometimes these changes will worsen your website. And perhaps on some occasion you will find something incredible.

Do not give up and keep testing every change on your website. Only by doing this you can ensure with certainty that those changes are the ones you can apply. Remember that A/B testing is a great technique to improve your website, but if you do not combine it with a dose of patience and objective analysis, it won’t help you reach your goals.

Featured image by Hannah Busing on Unsplash.

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