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Our “Integrated Experiment Duration Calculator” Wins Google’s “Design a Feature for Website Optimizer” Contest.

In a recent contest, Google invited WOACs to design the best new feature for Website Optimizer. At the WOAC Summit on November 11, Google announced that VKI Studios had won first prize with its suggestion of an “Integrated Experiment Duration Calculator”.

In its original announcement of the contest via email on October 30, 2008, Google stated:

“This is your chance to design your own feature for Website Optimizer. We’ll select the top five entries to present to our panel of judges and your fellow WOACs.”

“The judges will review all submissions and pick the top five. If you’ve been selected to present we’ll notify you on Thursday, November 6th. Presenters need to prepare a 5-minute pitch for their feature to be given at the WOAC Summit on 11/11.”

Google further stipulated that the new feature should help move the business forward. Priorities included:

  • Making it easier for people to run their first experiment
  • Get more people to test more often

Other criteria included:

  • Increase the percentage of users who sign up and launch an experiment
  • Reduce the time it takes to implement an experiment
  • Make it drop-dead easy for small businesses to start testing

Entries were judged on:

  • Business Impact
  • Feasibility
  • Awesomeness

The winning feature—conceived and presented by our own Neal McGann—was a built in Experiment Duration Calculator.

Such a calculator already exists within Google’s online resources. But it is not integrated into the experiment-development tool. Rather, it is “hidden” where users are unlikely to find it. Neal’s suggestion was to make the calculator much more useful, by integrating it directly into the tool.


When this feature is implemented, those new to Website Optimizer will more easily be able to determine the impact their test recipe choices will have on their experiment’s duration.

This is important because many new users of Website Optimizer do not fully appreciate how much impact their choice of experimental options will have on the duration of their experiments. Many make the mistake of trying to answer all their questions in one test. This typically requires a multivariate test with several different variables. Unless the test page enjoys very high traffic levels, such complex experiments can take several months to complete. As a result, some users become frustrated and lose interest.

With an experiment length calculator integrated directly into the GWO tool, users are much more likely to launch experiments that yield statistically relevant results faster. This will allow users to conduct more experiments, more often. And thereby more fully enjoy the incredible potential benefits offered by Google Website Optimizer.

In addition to bragging rights, VKI Studios scooped up the first prize of $1,500 in AdWords advertising.


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