WordPress Split Testing Themes

The A/B theme tests are a special type of test that allows you to activate one or more themes on your website and find out which design is best for turning your visitors into customers.

Nelio A/B Testing allows you to perform this type of tests in WordPress in a very simple way, offering the necessary tools to create alternative content, perform the test, and track visitors to achieve goals such as increasing revenue or subscriptionsInstall, activate, and configure Nelio A/B Testing and get the most out of your website.

Instructions for Split Testing Themes

Once you have installed, activated, and configured Nelio A/B Testing, please adhere to these instructions to create a theme test.

Create a New Split Test of WordPress Themes

  1. Under the Nelio A/B Testing menu, click on Tests to view and manage your tests.
  2. Click the Add Test button at the top of the screen.
  3. A pop-up window will open with all the types of tests you can create. Each of them has a name and an icon.
    • Click on Theme.
Selector of test in Nelio A/B Testing.

Name and Define Your Test

First of all, give a descriptive Name to the test you want to create to help you identify it in the future. In addition, on the right sidebar, you’ll find three additional tabs:

  • Status & Management, where you see the status your test is currently in (DraftReadyScheduled, or Paused) and options on when it should start and end,
  • Description of the test, where you can indicate what you are testing and what you intend to achieve with it,
  • Test Scope, where you specify which pages of your website are affected by this test and which by default indicates that the variants will be visible on all pages of your website. If you want to limit its scope to certain pages, you have a form to define the URLs in which the test should be executed.
Defining a new theme A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

How to Create the Variants to Test

An A/B test of themes consists of testing different themes (including the one that’s currently active) and measuring which one works best to achieve your goals. For example, you can analyze which theme generates more leads or provides more sales.

Select the Variants to Test

Select a “Variant B” (or more than one, if you wish) of the currently active theme, selecting a theme from the list of themes that you have installed on your website.

Selecting a theme variant in an A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

Keep in mind that the themes you want to use in an A/B test must be configured beforehand. To do this, select each theme on your WordPress Dashboard (as if you wanted to change the active theme) and set up its menus, widgets, and everything else you might need to set up. This setting is automatically saved in WordPress and then used by Nelio A/B Testing.

Also keep in mind that the plugins that your themes need must be activated (Nelio A/B Testing cannot know what plugins each theme needs and, therefore, cannot activate or deactivate them for you).

How to Define Your Conversion Goals and Actions

A/B tests are usually performed with some goals in mind, such as “increase the number of leads” or “showing interest in your products.” The goals are met when the visitor performs certain actions. For example, you “increase the number of leads” when a visitor completes a certain form on your website.

Let’s see how to define conversion goals and actions in Nelio A/B Testing in order to track the activity of your visitors.

Define Your Conversion Goals

You can add as many goals as you want by clicking on the + New link. If you create more than one goal, Nelio A/B Testing will show you information on how effective each variant is for each of the defined goals.

Optionally, you can give your goal a name that helps you remember what you were interested in improving in your test. For example, your goals could be “Increase the number of leads” or “Show interest in my products.”

Defining conversion goals of a custom post type A/B test.

Add Conversion Actions to Your Goals

Different types of conversion actions are available to track your visitors. For example, you can control when they access a certain page, when they click on a certain element of your website, or when they send a contact form.

  1. Click the Action Button that interests you. For example, if you want them to complete a form, click Form Submission icon.
  2. Each type of conversion action has its owns settings. In the case of Form Submission, for example, you must specify which form the user must complete.
  3. Repeat the process for all the actions you want to add.
Adding conversion actions to a custom post type A/B test.

Remember that you can delete any action by clicking on the Delete link below the action.

How to Start the Test

Once you have fully defined your test, you will see that the status of the test will have passed from Draft to Ready. At that point, you can Start it so that your website visitors can see the different variants that you have created and Nelio A/B Testing will start tracking their actions.

Start an A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

Start your test

To start a test, check that it is Ready and, if it is, click on the Start… button in the upper right corner. If it was not ready, you can hover the mouse over the information icon that appears next to the Status to see why your test is still a Draft.

If you do not want to start the test directly, but want to leave it scheduled for a specific date, specify it using the Start field in the Status & Management section.

Once the test has started, the plugin will show you its results page and you will see that the status changes to Running.

Important: tests cannot be edited once they are active, but you can pause, modify them and restart them so they continue to run. Of course, depending on the modifications you make, your partial results may be invalid after restarting the test. If that is the case, it is best to start a new test, duplicating the previous one.

Choose the end mode in an A/B test.

When do you want to end your test

You can also define when you want the execution to end, indicating the End Mode of the test:

  • Manual: the test will stop when you click the Stop button, in the list of tests or on its results page.
  • Duration: the test will stop automatically after the indicated time.
  • Page views: the test will stop automatically after reaching the total number of visits you have specified.
  • Confidence: The test will stop automatically when a winner is found in the first goal with the specified confidence level.

How to See the Progress of a Test and Its Results

In the menu option Tests you can see the list of the tests created, the status they are in and the date of their last update. At any time you can see the results of a test that is started or that has already ended by clicking on the View Results link below its name.

Status of the results of an A/B Test.

Summary of the results

In the right sidebar of the results page you will find the Summary of your test with the following information:

  • Status icon. This icon helps you quickly identify the progress of your tests. It is initially in yellow, indicating that there are not enough visits to determine a winner. If the icon changes showing a clock with a heart, there is a possible winner, but statistical confidence is low, so things can still change. Finally if a green icon is shown (with a medal), we have a clear winner. If the icon is red, no alternative is better than the original.
  • Some metadata about your test. Specifically, you can see the status of the test, how long it has been running, when it started and how it ends.
  • The description and scope of the test are also included.

Test Progress

The results page shows, in turn, the following information on the progress of a theme test:

  1. Test Name
  2. Evolution with the conversion rate of the control version and all variants, as well as the total number of conversions and visits to the tested theme.
  3. Two additional graphs showing the conversion rates of each alternative and its degree of improvement over the original, respectively.
  4. For each of the variants of the test we will see a thumbnail image, if available, of the custom post type under test, the number of visits it has received, its number of conversions, the resulting conversion rate and, for all variants other than the original, the degree of improvement  that they have with respect to the control version.
  5. We also found a button to display the heatmap of that variant.
  6. Finally, a summary of the conversion goals and actions of the test is shown.
Evolution of an A/B test with one variant
Evolution of an A/B test with one variant

Improve Your Web Conversion

You can end a test manually at any time by clicking on the Stop button found in the top right corner of the results page. Remember that a test can also end automatically if the condition indicated in its end mode is met.

After completing a test and to improve the conversion of your website, click on the Apply button of the winning variant (if it exists) and that theme will become the active theme of your website.

Results of a theme A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

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