Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Throwing baby out with the bath water. Website redesign.

I have been working on producing a completely new redesign of our website for more months than I care to remember. As you can imagine with any large company website there have been many, many stakeholders, many, many opinions, many, many conflicts. Design-wise we have certainly utilised our CRO testing learning and thankfully applied those findings to our spanky new website. I have personally had to park my day to day mvt and split testing in this time to concentrate on delivering this site! Shiney and new to the public. And to be honest it's been a great experience. This is the second time I've worked on such a large redesign project, the first time around as a Web Developer, the second time on the Business side of things. Very exciting, 300 plus people involved, lots of £££. What's not to like? Well with all those stakeholders we've had a lot of subjective thinking feeding into content and design. Because I've adopted a more project delivery role focused on delivering this beast I have not fought the good CRO fight for two reasons as I see it. One. I have been sucked into the world of bringing something that looks aesthetically good to market which give good visual impact but perforamce-wise may prove under-performing. Two. Hitting the  reset button on our website means I am suddenly offered many new CRO testing opportunities. I can look to retest every redesigned experience. I can revisit the established learning and try new concepts, I can overturn that recently reinvigorated subjective thinking. Plus with the majority of all redesigns you lose certain features and aspects of design that have proved positive for conversion uplift.  So suddenly I get a fresh field of opportunity to prove the case for MVT, AB testing and CRO (again). All hail periodic website redesign! Happy testing : ) long live optimisation.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Optimisation landscape has changed. Have you kept up?

A number of things have changed in the world of MVT testing, AB testing and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) generally over the last few years. The question we have to ask of ourselves and the people we work with is whether we have truly kept pace with these changes. I've asked this question a lot recently and a number of areas have been found wanting.

1. The economic collapse of  2008 changed everything both in terms of the economy but also the web, how eCommerce businesses either thrived or died. The reduction of cash flow in internet businesses both drove the argument for testing and improving your online experience to squeeze the very last drop of our traffic and it also threw greater intensity on the need to prove ROI . If CRO was ever seen as peripheral then this was the time to prove your worth and justify the ongoing investment as a core player in the online channel not waiting in the wings. Verdict: Done OK. Could do better.

2. Web traffic has radically shifted into different segments. The Mobile and Tablet device accounts for around 30% of web traffic at the moment and continues to rise. As a consequence traditional fixed web testing is becoming less and less relevant as each day passes. If you're not actively testing in these new segments now it may already be too late. Despite some early and ongoing dabbling in these emerging segments we have failed to make any real inroads in terms of replicating the successes achieved in desktop testing. Verdict: Strong start but faded fast.

3. Are still looking at the same things to test time and again? Sometimes you need to retest the same concepts and experiences especially those user journeys core to your sales and service funnel but sometimes you  need a fresh pair of eyes on your business to get new insight and ideas. Verdict: Good but room for improvement.

4. Your choice of testing vendor is still key. The things you look for in a testing partner are those that can help address the shortcomings mentioned above. Someone who does enable testing in those emerging segments, who continually helps evidence ROI for your CRO activity to the budget holders, and someone who is proactive and brings fresh ideas and insight to the table. More importantly now you need someone who wants to be embedded in your business and add value day in day out and doesn't get complacent. Verdict: TBC

I firmly believe that MVT and CRO can still offer huge uptick in web performance for the online player. I guess the biggest danger is falling into patterns of working and thinking that worked well in the past but don't necessarily work as well today. Continual self assessment and re-evaluation of all the components in your testing programme should still yield success but you might have to make some tough decisions and change to bring about renewed success.