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Trying to grab a visitor’s attention is getting harder by the day. The window of opportunity is small and only getting smaller. With thousands of pages available on the same topic, the visitor is less likely to stick around to figure out what something on a website means if it isn’t abundantly clear to them from the start.

It’s the designer’s responsibility to make the website engaging enough while inspiring the visitor to convert. Through multivariate testing (MVT), you can track just how these visitors are responding to particular elements, then utilizing the best in meeting your website’s business goals.

What is Multivariate Testing?

There are several elements to a website that directly affect conversion rate, and MVT allows for the testing of those elements to determine which combinations create the best results. In simple A/B or “split” tests, users typically compare and contrast variations of a single element (i.e. “Headline 1” vs “Headline 2”).

MVT takes a more in-depth look, allowing users to compare variations of single elements as well as combinations of several elements together (i.e. “Headline 1 and Signup Button 1” vs “Headline 2 and Signup Button 2” vs all other combinations).

Identify the Goals of Your Website

Image Credit: Karina Oliveira-Mansfield

From the start, you want to identify the goals of your website clearly. Only then can you begin to target the issues that can be resolved through multivariate testing. Perhaps you want to increase sign-up rates and reduce bounce rates. Maybe you want to increase newsletter subscriptions. Whatever the goal is, you should determine an area that needs improvement and work on one challenge at a time.

Determine What Could Be Affecting Conversion

Image Credit: Aku Siukosaari

After you determined your goals, list some ideas that come to your mind on barriers that may be preventing your customers from taking action.  It’s hard to determine just why visitors aren’t converting since there are many variables that can contribute to them not, but list any and all that come to your head.

In the brainstorming process, step back and get feedback from friends and colleagues. They may catch something you’ve missed, or offer helpful advice from a user experience standpoint. For instance maybe the sign-up form is too long or your “free trial” button isn’t noticeable. In that case run a multivariate test.

Run the Tests

Image Credit: Stephanie Smith

Address those reasons your design may not be living up to your expectations by running the multivariate tests. Even the smallest of changes to design elements, headlines, or copy can have significant improvements towards conversions. If you’re not sold, read this article from 37 signals which details how a simple headline change increased sign-up rates by 30%.

Maybe you run a multivariate test with Submit button variations such as “Submit” or “Sign up For Free” or “Instant Signup.” Along with the text changes, experiment with different colors and see which works the best.

Google’s Website Optimizer is the easiest way to see the effects that making changes to page elements has on your conversion rate. Best of all, this user-friendly tool is free.

Check Your Results

After you’ve run the test for a pre-determined amount of time, whether it be a week or a month depending on your traffic, it’s now time to analyze your results.  Keep in mind the more visitors you receive in this time, the more reliable the results.  From here you can see what is working and ditch what isn’t, giving you an idea of how to best present information on your website now and in the future.


Quantifiable data ultimately measures a website’s success. The information gathered by MVT indicates the areas of a website that are most and least successful at converting visitors. Applying this data to design changes has the potential to dramatically affect everything from newsletter signups to a company’s revenue. MVT is the first step in measuring website effectiveness and shining light on website bottlenecks that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

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Posted by Blake Sanders

Blake Sanders is a writer for the Maxymiser multivariate testing solutions company and is an expert on multivariate testing. Blake enjoys discussing various topics on increasing website conversions.

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