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Making Websites Better with Multivariate Testing Methods June 19, 2012

The concept of multivariate tests might seem new to you, but if you use the Internet a lot, then you’ve probably already been able to participate in a few of these tests. Webmasters run these tests
routinely on their sites as part of the optimization process. People who have been in this business for a while know that the top priority is the customer. Whatever reels in more buyers and looks more appealing to site visitors is good for the website and for business.



The Website Optimization Process

Changes play a huge part in the optimization process. It’s what paves the way for innovation and improvement. However, making these changes also poses a bit of a risk, especially if your audience doesn’t take too kindly on them. For this reason, webmasters do testing on sites so they can minimize the risks while going through the process so they can follow a more step-by-step procedure. There are a number of tests available for these purposes, such as A/B testing and multivariate testing. Both enjoy widespread use in the industry and have their respective advantages and disadvantages, which we’re going to cover next.

A/B Testing versus Multivariate Testing

A/B testing, which is also known as split testing, is a marketing testing method that presents site visitors with two versions of the same website. The variations will only have one element changed between the two of them, so the reason for the difference in audience response can be easily pinpointed. On the other hand, multivariate testing allows the variation of more than one element at a time. This speeds up the testing and optimization process, since more changes can be tried out for each run.

Why Choose Multivariate Testing?

Both testing methods are sufficient for website optimization, although many prefer multivariate tests because they’re quicker and generally more efficient. Since more changes can be implemented after each test, it accelerates the optimization process and reduces the total time needed to come up with a better version of the website. This method is recommended for those who manage especially large or complex sites, where finding out the reason for varied responses from the audience isn’t as important.

website testing

General Guide on Running Multivariate Tests

The procedure on how to conduct multivariate tests is straightforward. Below you’ll find a quick guide that outlines every major step of the process.

  • Site Evaluation. Go over your entire site and prepare a list of elements that you believe could use some improvement. Ask for help from friends, family, and colleagues to pitch in and point out what they consider as problem areas on your website.
  • Test Design. Group the elements that you have from the previous step into batches. Choose one of them to run your first test on, then work on designing the variations that you will be using for it.
  • Test Implementation. When the versions of your site are ready, it’s time to run your test. You can do so easily with the use of software and tools, like Google’s Website Optimizer, which is available for free online. You can also employ the services of testing companies to run the tests for you.
  • Results and Analysis. After the tests are done, it’s time to gather the results and interpret them according to your evaluation criteria, which could be based on the number of clicks or any resulting increases in sales.
  • Site Deployment. Once you’ve determined which variation is the better version, it’s time to roll out the changes on your actual website and proceed to conducting your next multivariate test.

About the Author

Ruben Corbo is a freelance writer that writes about technology, gaming, music, and online marketing especially topics about A/B Testing and how to run multivariate tests. Ruben is also an avid gamer and music composer for short films and other visual arts.

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