Firstly, it means design decisions aren't being made by business people simply based on what they 'think' the visitor wants. Instead, multivariate testing allows visitors to choose which version of the site they like best through their clicks, which in turn gives us important empirical data about the reasons behind these choices.
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Vancouver, BC (Vocus) August 18, 2009
VKI Studios, a leading Internet marketing and website usability firm, is fast changing the way websites are developed and optimized as witnessed through the success of its most recent multivariate experiment with YouTube.com, the world's most popular online video portal.
During the experiment, which aimed to increase the overall number of account sign-ups, visitors were presented with 1024 different versions of YouTube's homepage, making this one of the largest Google Website Optimizer test to date. The visitors' real-time clicks determined which version of the site had the highest conversion rate, leading to a 15.7 per cent increase in new account sign-ups - far exceeding expectations.
"This experiment is significant on a number of levels," explains John Hossack, President of VKI Studios. "Firstly, it means design decisions aren't being made by business people simply based on what they 'think' the visitor wants. Instead, multivariate testing allows visitors to choose which version of the site they like best through their clicks, which in turn gives us important empirical data about the reasons behind these choices."
"Secondly, this experiment led to massive improvement in YouTube's conversion rate at a fairly minimal cost. With VKI's expertise, YouTube was able to add thousands more sign-ups and personalized views to the homepage every day, and the best part is that most websites have the ability to benefit from A/B or multivariate testing. Conversion experiments are truly changing how businesses make decisions now."
Utilizing Google Web Optimizer (GWO), VKI's tests included making small changes to three main sections of the masthead on YouTube's landing page. The changes included experimenting with text, banners, and various 'call to action' messages. For sites that get a large volume of traffic, even a minor change can dramatically change how people use the site. As a result of VKI's experiment results, YouTube rolled out its new landing page with upgrades to the design.
"While we could have hypothesized which elements would result in greater conversions, multivariate testing proves the combinatorial impact of different configurations," adds Curtis Lee, Product Marketing Manager of YouTube. "This helps guide our design process, ultimately steering us in the right direction."
In the case of YouTube, VKI hypothesized three points: firstly, if a clear benefit for signing up was stated, visitors would be more inclined to do so; secondly, if the sign up function was made more prominent, more visitors would begin the sign-up process; and finally, if a clearer call to action was added, a greater number of visitors would respond.
VKI then created alternate versions of the homepage and tested them against one another, using empirical data to determine the most impactful version. As a result, YouTube plans on incorporating many of VKI's results in future evolutions of their homepage.
About VKI Studios (http://www.vkistudios.com)
Founded in 1998 and located in Vancouver, British Columbia, VKI Studios is a leading Internet marketing and website usability firm. Boasting several hundred loyal clients and a proven track record of success, our mission is to drive more targeted traffic to our clients' websites and to ensure those websites gain the highest possible conversion rates in their industry.
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