Website Improvements: A/B Test First or Just Launch Them?

Learn what you can launch without needing to A/B test first - essential if you don’t have enough traffic or time to do so.

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Trying to improve your website sales or leads by doing conversion rate optimization (CRO)? Great job!

One of the most common parts of CRO is A/B testing, but too often people think you need to A/B test everything you want to improve on your website.

Is this just a myth? Do you really need to A/B test everything?

The good news is that you don’t have to A/B test all the website elements you want to improve — which is particularly great for small online businesses who don’t even have the luxury of enough traffic to do A/B testing anyway.

And A/B testing everything you want to improve on your website would take a LONG time, as each A/B test often takes 2–4 weeks or longer to get results. This would also use up many resources that would be better spent elsewhere.

But what can be just launched, and what should really be A/B tested first?

To help explain this I have created an overview, with a list of key website elements that can have bigger impact when you A/B test them first, and what should just be launched without needing A/B testing.

A/B test it — these are always worth A/B testing first:

First let’s talk about what elements are always good for A/B testing to maximize your conversion rate, and website sales or leads.

In a nutshell, any time that it is unclear which version of your website improvement element will perform better, these are definitely worth A/B testing to find the one with the highest conversion rate.

This is particularly true when it comes to website elements that make use of psychology and influence techniques (like scarcity or urgency), which often need experimenting with first to see if they even work with your audience.

Here are some examples:

  • Headlines (these have a huge impact on visitor engagement)
  • Website copy on key pages like the homepage and service/product pages
  • Hero image on the homepage (vital for quickly engaging visitors)
  • Call-to-action wording on buttons (colors are much less important)
  • Incentives for capturing email addresses (discounts versus guides etc)
  • Influence and persuasion elements (e.g. mentioning scarcity/urgency)

Got it so far? Great. To help clear explain things even better now let’s move on when to just launch improvements.

Launch it —these don’t need A/B testing first:

These ‘launch it’ website elements are considered best practice for CRO and will nearly always improve sales or leads, so should just be launched without needing A/B testing first. Doing this frees up time and resources to A/B test other elements that are definitely worth A/B testing as discussed above.

Here are some examples of what to just launch:

  • Website usability fixes and improvements, like improving confusing or poor user flows, navigation menus or forms.
  • Prominent unique value proposition elements on key entry pages, which is essential to convey to visitors and is often overlooked.
  • Purchase risk reducers like guarantees, free shipping and free returns. These are no brainers that will nearly always help increase sales.
  • Good filters and sort options on category pages, as these make it much easier for visitors to find exactly what they are looking for.
  • Increasing number and quality of product or service images (people rarely buy online without knowing enough about what it looks like).
  • Social proof like reviews and ratings, ‘as featured in’ and third party ratings like from Feefo or Trustpilot (popular websites = higher sales).
  • Secure messaging and icons in the checkout or signup flow (yes, people still worry about getting their credit card or person details stolen online).

I certainly recommend you do follow-up A/B testing (if you have enough traffic) to fine tune these or iterate on the exact location or style of them.

The key thing is to just launch these types of improvement because they are so important to have on your website, and then tweak and improve them.

To reduce the risk of issues with launching these improvements, I recommend that you first do some usability testing on them using excellent services like UserFeel and UsabilityHub. This way you can get your visitor’s all important feedback on them and tweak them before launching them.

Also make sure you monitor the impact on your website conversion rate from these launches, month over month, and year over year to take into account seasonality. This will help convince your boss that they are working well, so that you can launch even more improvements.

Want more help with your A/B testing and CRO?

If you found this helpful and want to get even better results from your improving your website with A/B testing and CRO, then you should consider checking some of my other articles:

The Essential Best Practice Guide for A/B Testing Tool Success

How to Improve Your Website If Your Traffic is Too Low for A/B Testing

A/B Testing Tools: VWO Compared to Google Optimize and Optimizely

And don’t forget to grab my free website conversion toolbox, with 7 unique tools and discounts. It includes my website improvement idea and A/B testing prioritizer tool, and my CONVERT website success model.

My Free Conversion Rate Optimization Toolbox

So there we have it. I hope that has helped you understand more about when you can just launch website improvements versus A/B testing them first.

Comments, applause and shares would be highly appreciated!