A/B Split Testing 101: Tools and Tips for WordPress Site Optimization

WordPress site designers, owners and administrators all have something in common with one another: they all want to see their sites perform better: look more attractive: get more hits and conversions; see more pass-alongs and click-throughs; engage more repeat visitors etc. In essence, it’s all about getting the most consistent and positive attention and building a loyal audience, no matter if the site is for a simple blog, a non-profit organization or an e-commerce concern.

So how does one go about ensuring that their site is looking and performing at its very best? One great way is to initiate A/B split testing. The concept is relatively simple: putting up two different versions of a site or specific page—each with different imagery, different video, a different design theme—and seeing which one is the winner with visitors. Doing A/B split testing is an absolutely ideal way to gauge your user base and basically see what makes them tick—what landing pages really garner attention; what headlines encourage them towards further exploration; and even what colors on your pages seem to be the most attractive and compelling. Then you can hone and modify your pages based on the information you gather.

Lots of web design firms perform A/B split testing for their clientele (Byte Technology included!), but for the do-it-yourselfers out there—those who have the time and interest to really delve into their site’s inner performance—there are some great tools that can help reap the benefits of comprehensive analytical info.

Read on for a handful of plugins that can help optimize a website and increase positive exposure in the virtual world.

  • For many dedicated website designers, the be-all-end-all program for testing a site is Google Analytics (formerly known as Google Website Optimizer), a tool that (many people don’t know) also contains an A/B split testing capability. The free plugin version is incredibly easy to set up and use—indeed lots of people already have it installed on their site—and it works a little differently than other testing platforms. Instead of looking at just two versions of a page, you can use up to 10 full versions of single page, each assigned to a different URL. You can also set “goals” for your site and watch as they’re reached and choose which metrics you want to track, such as page views, how long a user stays on your site, conversions to monetary transactions and more.
  • Optimizely is a big boy in the world of A/B split testing, used by lots of mega-corporations and the like. However, it also has some great options for smaller sites and organizations and comes in with some very attractive pricing. Good for beginners thanks to a plugin that automatically inserts the testing code into your site, the program features a point-and-click navigation system that makes it simple to implement variations on your present site without having to create multiple versions of the same page. And there are unlimited ways to experiment with visitor and goal tracking, cross-browser testing and more.
  • Specifically designed to work with WordPress sites, the Nelio A/B plugin works directly from the WordPress dashboard, eliminating the need to use an external service or do any special coding. With it you can compare all sorts of different content, from themes to CSS variations to post titles and headlines. It also features clickmaps that clearly show which parts of your site are getting the most attention from visitors.
  • Like Nelio, AB Press Optimizer is a plugin that works beautifully with WordPress sites and the dashboard and doesn’t require any additional coding to get up and running. The program is especially nice as it allows you to change text, images and other elements of your site with just a few clicks, and has a statistics platform integrated into its design. It comes in at a pretty decent price (no free version is available) and is a good choice for those website newbies who only want to test certain specific pieces of their page’s content.
  • Available for free (with a premium version coming in at under $60), Simple Page Tester is another plugin dedicated just to WordPress sites. Also easy to set up, it’s fairly basic in its capabilities but nevertheless a good option for beginners and those who don’t need truly comprehensive A/B testing. Split tests are managed from WordPress editor, just a few clicks creates variations of content that are linked back to the original version. It also plays nice with Google Analytics for tracking.

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