ProTip Tuesday #6: Never Trust Your Gut

When we design stuff, we always have good intentions. However, users don’t care about your intentions, they only care about the what they care about.


When we are faced with two options that seem equal, or two options that are too different/difficult to compare, or if there is an argument that just can’t be settled, the answer is an A/B Test.

Not the option that “feels right”.

What is an A/B Test?

Here’s how it works: We make two (or more) versions of the same page and launch both. The site visitors are split equally between both versions so they can be compared side-by-side in the statistics. Each user only sees one version. A test will usually run for a few days or a few weeks, depending on the complexity of what you’re testing.

Let’s say we can’t decide whether it is better to have a picture of a blonde or a brunette. Life is full of tough decisions! So we do an A/B test and find out. Google Analytics includes one of many great free tools to do these tests, and it just might prove that brunettes get more clicks.

The client’s preference for blondes will have no effect on the test results, but, unfortunately, it will have a huge effect on their feedback about your design.

The amazing part is how often our gut feeling is wrong. Even after we know which one is best, sometimes we still can’t explain it! Two implementations of the same idea can have radically different results. And the same solution on one site can have opposite results on another site.

Convince the client

A/B Testing is cheap and easy. It may take an extra hour from a developer, and two from the designer, but it could make huge differences in sales or conversion. When the test is actually running everything is automatic, so there are no extra costs! When the test is done you are guaranteed to make the best choice!

Still not convinced?!

Below is a link to a site that lists over 100 A/B Tests from around the internet, and their results. You get to vote on which version you think was the winner before you see results. Don’t worry if you’re bad at it, that’s normal. :) The amount of difference a little detail can make is often absolutely amazing.

And that’s why you should never trust your gut!

Have a great week!


If you liked this ProTip, try ProTip Tuesday #7: The F-Pattern Rules.

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