Why should I care about Google Website Optimizer

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if you changed a button on your site? Would your users respond well or just abandon you forever? Ever wanted to put your showcase image on the right side of your form instead of the left, but were afraid to because your users already have an expectation for your site? What about changing your contact form? But…what’s the right combination to get more people to fill it out?

Well, Google Website Optimizer (GWO) lets you try all that and more without making permanent changes to your site until you’re sure which one is the best!

I love GWO! It’s like playing in the sandbox when I was a kid. I built some castles Memories of sand castleswith two towers and others with three. Sometimes I made makeshift flags built out of leaves. Pebbles for my sandboxSometimes I would use pebbles for windows or to create a stone cap for the towers. Would I have had more fun with two castles at the same time? What if I had built three castles each with different attributes like short towers, tall towers, round towers, rectangular windows, square windows, round windows or even arched doors! Wouldn’t that have been great? When I was a kid, I was only interested in one castle at a time. Now that I’m older and see all the possibilities out there, I want tons of castles.

What history shows us

I think that the history of website design has followed a similar path from its infancy to a now more mature and robust capability of what we can do with a website. Do you remember when everything on the web had frames with the navigation on the left side in its own frame? Wow! How things have changed. Now, everyone wants all the castles they can fit into their site. However, it’s increasingly important to discover what motivates your visitors, not just your market segment, and not just what looks good.

GWO lets you try out different scenarios and measures which variation has the best performance in getting your users to do what you want them to such as filling out a form, adding a product to your shopping cart, or registering for an account on your site. Let’s take a look at a sample case study for an e-commerce site that changes out a button. Take a look at the seven buttons below. Can you guess which one caused more people to click on it?

Begin Secure Checkout button

Amazingly enough, the large red button has out-performed all the others. I chose to use the red one just to be a little silly, while maintaining a professional look and feel. I had no idea that it would perform so well!

Since we used GWO, we have the proof!

For a total of 4521 visitors during the experiment period, the Red Large button was displayed to 645 people and 50.1% of them performed the action that we wanted. It is still showing an observed improvement of 3.88% while all other buttons are dropping in effectiveness.

GWO stats

The Moral

So, the moral of this story is to get back in your sandbox! Build as many castles as you want with as many variations as you can come up with! There is no limit to the number of tests you can do. There is no limit to the designs and layouts that you can try. One of the best parts about it is the tool is already out there to compile your data and prove to yourself, your designer, or your boss which one is really the most effective in persuading your visitors to take the plunge.

One Comment

  1. Lemuel Heinemeyer
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    I love the site