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A or B?

I read the recent Wired Magazine article on A/B testing websites and like many of you, I wondered to myself if it was actually possible to embrace this sort of design philosophy.

After talking with my team, we've redoubled our efforts to design core Key Performance Indicators ("KPIs") in an attempt to actually start using A/B testing as a regular process for updating our site navigation, design choices and whatever else we want to change.

It's a disorienting thing, removing subjectivity from the design process. My background as a designer makes me one of those people who can look at a screen and make grand proclamations about where things should be and what they should say. It's something I'm determined to stop doing. I will be honest, it is hard to stop.

Either way, we've devised a series of "top level" KPIs designed to measure overall site effectiveness - and we've limited it to 5 measurements. Yes, of course we'll design secondary KPIs, but at this point, we plan to benchmark and establish baselines for just the most important things on a website. Here's a sample of the working list of questions we hope to answer:

  1. 1. Do people come back (return visits)
  2. 2. Do they make donations? (page views / total on site donations)
  3. 3. Do they stay once they visit? (time on site)
  4. 4. Do they take key actions designed to engage them in a deeper relationship? (page views / key actions)

We feel like we've got a good handle on how we will do this and I'm excited to get started. Some changes will be major, others we hope to test, like the font on the main navigation, are nominal. Either way, we'll learn a lot about what makes the site really tick and put ourselves in a position to improve it over time.

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