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Experience Design

The Role of A/B Testing in User Experience Design

In life, we’re never done testing and learning about ourselves; your business is no different. I am a strong advocate in the concept of incorporating A/B testing throughout the cycle of implementing new web sites, landing pages, and just about anything that has an important call to action that can lead to big business rewards.
As a User Experience professional working with many different clients, I notice certain patterns and trends start to emerge from time to time. But the truth is, when it comes to design and the effectiveness of wording, layouts and marketing… there is no golden formula that yields fantastic results every time. Every brand is different. Every consumer has different opinions about what they look at and how to respond. Because of this, we can only make our best educated guess to start with, and should consider running an A/B test to see if our theory was right after all.

One of my favorite newsletters I receive in my inbox is from a web site called You can sign up for their free newsletter and each week take a stab at guessing which design got the most engagement in a recent A/B test.

Let’s give it a try right now to test out your powers of marketing genius and knowhow, shall we? Here is the current test of the week that’s being featured on Which Test Won. Take a quick guess on which you think might engage the audience more before you read further…


In these two examples, only a simple line of text has been changed. You might ask yourself how big of a difference could this one line of text actually have…
The big winner here turns out to be version A:

Version A, with the form headline ‘I want an expert opinion, Sign me up!’, which more closely mirrored the page’s main headline wording, increased form submissions by 137.5% and final sales by 22%.

I’m not going to lie… I guessed wrong. And the truth is, I’m not ashamed by it. This resonates on a point that user experience experts already know well. Nothing replaces the value of user testing. Even as experts, all we can do is start with our best educated guesses and test from there to learn from the real users. After we test, it never hurts to test again with what we’ve newly learned. Where it might not make sense to continuously invest in user testing repetitively after a project is complete, consider supplementing your initial user testing with continued A/B testing where minor edits like color adjustments, altering imagery or text tweaks can be made. We can always learn more, and we can always be better.
If you’re interested in trying out A/B testing on your web site, one of the tools I have used in the past that offers a free week trial is Optimizely. I found it simple to set up (only requiring you to add a line of code in the header of the page you wish to test) and easy to use (no code knowledge required). Happy testing!

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Abbey Smalley

With 10 years of interactive industry experience under her belt, Abbey Smalley serves as a Solution Architect within Perficient XD’s Strategy & Ideation Practice. Client industry list includes Financial, Retail, Healthcare, Fitness, and Restaurants. Prior to working for Perficient XD, Abbey served as the Online Design and Usability lead for 3M’s global mobile design strategy. Abbey is passionate about spreading the message of a User-Centered Customer Experience and has spoken Internationally at several industry conferences. She is a contributor to Perficient’s Spark blog and a part of the leadership committee for the Minneapolis Interaction Design Association (IxDA). Abbey’s other interests include creative strategy, writing, jewelry making, and rather cute cats.

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