How We A/B Test Designation

Designation Team Jan 27, 2017

You may have noticed (or maybe not) that the Designation website changes around quite a bit - from button text, placement, color, and even language. Why does this happen?

It’s because we practice what we preach. Our program is constantly trying to determine how best to engage with our prospective audience of aspiring designers. It’s the nature of the work that we teach here, and it’s what we do for our own website, too. And because we also think transparency and honesty are at the forefront of great design, we also wanted to give you a small peek inside the process.

Designation uses a program called VWO (Visual Website Optimizer) to create and run split tests on our site. This allows us to get a better sense of what aspects of our program people are actually most interested in by showing us directly how and where they engage with it.

It’s a game of inches and we’ve tested things such as button text, calls to action, removing images/buttons, placement of buttons, language, to changing the color of a button. While the fundamentals of our brand and messaging always remain constant, there’s really no way to know what the most informative and engaging configuration of content pieces will be until you actually run the tests and see for yourself.

There was a book written by the American psychologist Barry Schwartz, who argued that multiple choices created anxiety amongst consumers. The same is true on a website - more than 1 call to action or a series of unclear calls to actions increase the chances of someone not doing either of them.

A recent test we ran was when we updated the button text on the homepage from “Apply Now” to “Get Started.” In our opinion, applying now was the next logical step, but we learned that using that for whatever reason that language didn’t resonate as clearly with our users. And while we can speculate and theorize as to the underlying psychology about why that may be, at the end of the day the users of our site tell us with their actions which messaging they prefer.

Here’s what the outcome of that test was:

This image shows that our conversion rate for a single action (which we specified) was about 4.18%. The button text change increased interactions with that button to almost 6%.

While almost 2% may not sound like a huge increase, the net gain is huge. Think about it this way- if you were a large ecommerce company selling thousands of products a day (say, $10,000 a day, or about 3,640,000 million a year) and you increased your conversion rate by 1%, that would net you an additional $36,400 a year.

This is potentially the salary for 1 additional employee, and all you had done was change the color of a button.

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