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One of the cooler things about working at WebShare is the fact that we regularly get our hands on the newest, most exciting tools in the analytics and testing industry. One tool we’re especially excited about right now is Optimizely, a brand new (it’s still in private beta) A/B testing platform designed to make testing easier than it’s ever been before.

At the core of Optimizely’s promise is its WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) variation editor, which allows you to create variations of your original page with drag-and-drop simplicity. You can easily edit text, rearrange your content, re-size images and buttons, etc., all without having to do any coding whatsoever. Below is an example of a variation of our Seminars for Success microsite: I moved the “Reserve Your Seat” button, our major call-to-action, to a more central location. Then I moved our dates and locations information, which we know is among the most important information on the page, to a more prominent location. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it could be different enough to show a significant difference in performance, and it took me a grand total of about 45 seconds to do.

Original:

Our original page

Variation:

This core benefit strikes at one of the biggest hurdles to efficiently testing your site: the creative process. Many small to medium-sized businesses simply don’t have creative resources in-house, which makes developing variations a major challenge. Optimizely minimizes that issue by allowing non-creative resources (such as myself) to quickly and easily generate variations that are significantly different from the original.

When you’re ready to launch a test, all you have to do is install one compact block of JavaScript into the <head> of the page you’re testing. This simple, streamlined implementation process adds even more weight to Optimizely’s claim that they provide “A/B testing you’ll actually use.” With your test running, Optimizely will measure user engagement with each variation, and report back you on the winners and losers.

As you might expect with any raw, beta-stage product, Optimizely is missing some things we hope it’ll incorporate in the future. There’s no word yet on whether Optimizely will handle multivariate testing. The WYSIWYG editor can be clunky and unpredictable. It’s difficult to save your variations while you work. There are no undo, copy, or paste buttons. But all in all, the concept behind Optimizely is clear and compelling. There’s a huge market for a simple A/B testing platform, and we think Optimizely could be well-suited to serve that need. To sign up for the beta, head over to www.optimizely.com, and to stay on top of all the latest news in the analytics world, don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter.

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