Picture Perfect: A/B Split Testing Your WordPress Site Imagery

Whether you’re posing proud for a formal portrait or grabbing a quick selfie with friends on vacation, everybody wants to look their very best. And when it comes to designing and running a WordPress site—whether it be a blog, a money-making e-tail page or even a bit of corporate PR—getting the right image that grabs attention and keeps visitors interested and engaged is incredibly important for a successful website.

But how do you determine which photos, infographics and the like are garnering the most positive responses to those landing on your WordPress-based pages? Welcome to A/B split testing, a relatively simple process where you can gauge what imagery works best for your users. It works something like this: You display two or more versions of a page to different audiences and then track to see how users react. The version that gets the more favorable reactions from users wins the prize and gets to stay prominently positioned on your site. Web professionals have been using the tool for years (Byte Technology can handle the testing for you if you’re uncomfortable with the process) and the analytical information gathered can really boost your page views, return visits, social media feeds and more.

To begin, the first thing you’ll do is install the Featured Image Optimizer plugin for WordPress. Once you’ve activated the program, you’ll create a post or take an existing one and click on “edit.” Below the “featured image” meta box you’ll see two boxes titled “Featured Image A” and “Featured Image B.” Choose two different images for each box by selecting the “add featured image” link, then check the box located next to “Activate Featured Image Plugin for this Post” option. That done, simply publish your post and visit your site; the optimizer program will randomly select and display either one of the two images to visitors.

Now comes the fun part: to see how the different images performed you’ll visit “Settings,” “A/B Image Settings.” Here you’ll find the basic info you want, essentially which image received the most clicks etc. Once you feel you’ve digested the data presented, uncheck the box to deactivate the A/B test. However, for best results have the test run for a decent amount of time—a week or so—as the data will give you the most clear results after a good amount of visits rather than just a small handful. Finally, working from the data collected by the optimizer, you simply select the image that performed best—the “winner”—and activate it as the main featured image for that post or article.

Of course this is the simplest and most rudimentary way to perform A/B split testing on WordPress site imagery. Indeed, there are lots of great plugins—both free and premium—that can give you much more advanced metric data and analytical information, and which will test a lot more than just images (such as post titles, overall themes etc.) Some great ones to explore are Nelio A/B and AB Press Optimizer. Each are designed specifically for WordPress sites, and neither require the user to do any advance coding or have much technical knowledge beyond basic WordPress dashboard administration. And both contain complex statistical platforms that can really boost your site’s appeal and overall performance in terms of repeat visits, click-throughs, pass-alongs to social media and the like.

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