A/B Testing, Google, Visual Design

A/B Testing, Google, Visual Design

Learned the term A/B Testing. It can be applied to lots of areas. For example, a web page design. Suppose you are not sure larger font or smaller font is best in attracting readers. You alternate the 2 designs on different days, and check your readership. (something like that) This can be applied to lots of other things. Basically, you have 2 choices, you test them both out, and check the data to see which performed better. Here's a Wikipedia quote:

A/B testing, split testing or bucket testing is a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates. A classic direct mail tactic, this method has been recently adopted within the interactive space to test tactics such as banner ads, emails and landing pages.

Significant improvements can be seen through testing elements like copy text, layouts, images and colors. However, not all elements produce the same improvements, and by looking at the results from different tests, it is possible to identify those elements that consistently tend to produce the greatest improvements.

But here's the interesting part:

Companies well-known for using A/B testing

Many companies use the designed experiment approach to making marketing decisions. It is an increasingly common practice as the tools and expertise grows in this area. There are many A/B testing case studies which show that the practice of testing is increasingly becoming popular with small and medium businesses as well. [1]

While it is widely used behind the scenes to maximize profits, the practice occasionally makes it into the spotlight.

  • Amazon.com pioneered its use within the web ecommerce space. Also stirred controversy by testing into optimal price-points. [2]
  • BBC.[3]
  • Google. One of their top designers, Douglas Bowman, left and spoke out against excessive use of the practice.[4]
  • Microsoft [5]
  • Playdom (Disney Interactive) [6]
  • Zynga [7]
  • eBay [8]

And the most juicy part is the mention of Google, which traced to this very interesting article:

Goodbye, Google (2009-03-20) By Douglas Bowman @ Source stopdesign.com

In general, i'm spiteful of so-called “designers” in the arts area. They are like semi-beings between craftmen and technician. If soft-porn is crippled brother of porn, then visual designers are soft-artists.

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