A/B Testing

What is it?

A/B testing (also referred to as split testing) is a method used to compare multiple (typically 2) different versions of the something to determine which one performs best.

You can compare almost anything on your site from different versions of a specific page, to different copy for a particular area or even the availability of a particular feature.

Let’s say you already have a banner on the top of your home page but are unsure whether that or another one you have would work best on your site and be more favourable to your users.

Instead of having to guess or make that decision uninformed A/B testing can be used to give you the information you require to make the right decision on which should be placed on your home page.

How does it work?

Going back to our home page banner example you would create what’s called a variation on your home page where you have a version with the alternate banner.

Then using A/B testing tools you could direct 50% of your website traffic towards your current page and 50% towards the variation of that page.

After a certain amount of time, let’s say a week, you could then view the statistics to see which one performed better based on whatever metric you choose to use e.g. purchases completed, specific category page visited, products reviewed etc.

You of course aren’t limited to a single variation or indeed the positioning of an element. Again in our banner example we could have set up 3 variations, and chose not just a different banner but different placements on the home page.

Why should you use A/B testing?

The main reason to use A/B testing is to allow you to make the right decisions for how your site looks, behaves and supports your users based on actual proof on what your users prefer and how they use your site.

To often we assume what our users will like, particularly when we’ve been in our industries for a long time and have relationships with those that use the site but unfortunately it’s incredibly hard to truly determine what works best without actually experimenting and tracking what does in fact work.

How do I implement A/B testing on my site?

A/B testing strategies can vary from incredibly simple (like our home page banner example used in this post) to very complex ones where there are several variations, metrics, specific audience types etc.

We have a suite of tools at Terracor that we can use to implement whatever strategy you want so just reach out and we’d love to work with you on implementing a test plan for your site.

Responsive & Mobile Optimised Websites

When implementing a zeckoShop website we at Terracor have traditionally built a “desktop” oriented design. This meant that the design of our websites were created with only desktop and laptop computers in mind.

More recently however with the increasing use of mobile devices (phone & tablets) to browse the web and purchase products we’ve enhanced our process in order to build sites that look and behave as needed on these devices.

You will hear lots of different terms and phrases used when describing ways to build a website that works well across mobile devices and at Terracor we specifically refer to:

  • Responsive Design
  • Mobile Optimised

So what does each of these mean?

Responsive Design

When we say that your website is designed to be responsive what we are implying is that your website design will “respond” to different screen sizes by adjusting the layout, content & element sizes of items on your website as needed to maintain a proper look and feel.

The best way to describe this is by showing an example site. Below you will see three screenshots from www.iStockPhoto.com which illustrates how their site responds depending on the devices viewing it:

Desktop
iStockPhoto Desktop

Tablet
iStockPhoto Tablet

Smartphone
iStock Photo Smartphone

A couple of important details are worth mentioning:

  1. The site did not respond based on the devices viewing it but on the screen size. You can test this for yourself by going to the website on your Desktop and shrinking the browser screen. Notice how it adjusts and adapts as you change the size.
  2. Also, the site being displayed in the screenshots is the exact same site with all the same content. It may look like different versions but due to the adaptive nature of responsive design it adjusts itself appropriately based on the screen size it’s being viewed on without the need for an alternative site or design.

Mobile Optimised

So once you have a responsive website you may be left wondering how well your site behaves on mobile devices which leads to two main questions:

  1. What is mobile optimisation?
  2. Why should my website be mobile optimised?

So let’s start with the what: simply put, mobile optimisation gets your responsive website and optimises several aspects of it to allow for a great user experience on mobile devices i.e. smartphones & tablets.

As an example here are some optimisation techniques we employ:

  • Images: here we remove unneeded images, shrink dimensions and compress the files sizes, allowing for quicker loading times over mobile networks
  • Home page: here we build your home page specifically with smaller screen sizes in mind which allows for removing unneeded elements along with changing the layout, content & widgets as needed
  • UI: here the general user interface of the site behaves specifically with mobile devices in mind. For instance the cart/checkout contents are stacked in a mobile friendly way to make viewing and modification a more natural experience on these devices

An important note here is that although the mobile optimised site is responsive, the changes made to optimise it on mobile only appear on those devices. Unlike the iStockPhoto example previously, if you shrink your desktop browser you will not see these changes in action as their activation is dependent on the actual device viewing the site.

Let me show a really good example of a site that behaves very differently on mobile as opposed to desktop: www.etsy.com. Note, only the top portion of each page is shown below for brevity but feel free to view the site on different devices and browsers to see this in action yourself.

Desktop

Etsy Desktop

Smartphone

Etsy Smartphone

You’ll notice here how the Smartphone version isn’t simply the desktop version with slight changes but in fact makes the following large changes:

  • Several pieces of text have been removed
  • Search has been made more prominent
  • Images are no longer heavily used
  • Categories are presented at the top to the user and simple icons used to illustrate

Next let’s discuss the why: there are dozens of reasons why you should have your site optimised for mobile and here are just a few:

  • Google will like you more: having a responsive design is a must with Google’s search engine ranking as otherwise you will be heavily penalised for not having one. In addition to this, having a website that behaves and performs well on mobile devices will also improve your Google ranking
  • User experience: by tailoring the user experience specifically for the device being used you can ensure that those users of your site have the best experience possible
  • Increased conversions: following on from the previous point, since you can optimise for mobile users you can streamline the whole process to make sure they see only the information they need and can navigate the shopping process as efficiently as possible
  • Number of mobile users: Over half the traffic on the web now is through mobile devices so it’s becoming a necessity to ensure you are catering to and building your website with this set of users in mind as you move forward

Conclusion

So should you stick with just a responsive site or go the extra mile and optimise for mobile?

This of course depends on your needs, business, user base etc but our recommendation with the pace of Smartphone adoption and the need to keep your website modern is to cover all bases and ensure you give the best user experience to anyone on your site no matter what device they are on.

Announcing Intercom Integration

We are very excited to announce integration with Intercom in our latest version of zeckoShop.

So why are we so excited and why should you care?

We believe that one of the most important things to consider when you have a website is how you understand, support and engage with your users. This is where Intercom comes in because it allows you to do all of this incredibly easily and with a ton of options and flexibility.

Intercom has packages for observing your users, getting feedback from them, supporting them and onboarding them. By signing up you can observe your users for free but by upgrading you can take advantage of the other features.

How does zeckoShop integrate with Intercom exactly?

For the initial rollout we will push your users and their details to Intercom and we will record events such as log in, log out, page visits & completed orders. This will allow you to build custom filters around different user properties such as tags, address information etc and see how your users are navigating and using your site. In fact to see the power of the observe package view the video below to find out exactly what’s possible.

Also, by signing up for the other packages we will include the Intercom component for interacting with your users automatically on each page.

So if you are intrigued by this new module and want to find out more then send us an email and we would be happy to discuss it further and how it can benefit you and your website.

Conditions Feature

This will be the first post in many related to a specific feature in zeckoShop, namely Conditions.

What are conditions?

In a nutshell a condition is something that is based on one or more rules and can be applied to several aspects of zeckoShop and determines whether some piece of behaviour will run or something will be displayed on the site.

A rule can be based on something like whether a user is logged in/out, what a clients IP is or what a customers country is etc.

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