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WordPress A/B Testing

A/B Testing in WordPress and How It Can Help Grow Your Website

In order to run a successful WordPress website, you need to make sure that all of its elements work in unison to provide a streamlined, enjoyable user experience. The trick to accomplishing this is to fine-tune each individual element, from headings, to images, to navigation menus, to buttons, until you assemble an effective design. However, in order to accomplish this, you need some way of measuring how these changes are impacting your key performance indicators such as time spent on page, or number of CTAs taken, which brings us to our topic, A/B testing. Commonly known as split testing, this procedure gives you the ability to determine which version of your website design produces the best results. A/B testing is widely used by web developers, UX designers, and digital marketers to create websites optimized for conversions. If you wish to know more about how A/B testing functions, what are some of its benefits, and how to implement it for your WordPress website, check out our guide in the post below.


A/B Testing 101

The idea behind A/B testing is fairly straightforward. On a basic level, A/B testing involves creating multiple different versions of a single web page, and then serving one at random to each visitor of your website. To point of doing this is to determine which version of the page is better at accomplishing its role, which can be anything from getting visitors to click on an ad, reading a piece of content, or subscribing to a newsletter. For example, one the versions of the page, which we will call A, can have a green subscribe button, whereas another, which we will call B, can have an orange one. When a visitor follows a link to the original page, they will be redirected to A or B instead, and each subsequent visit they will get the version they originally got, until you conclude the test. Once you decide that the test is over, you can examine the data in order to find out which of the two versions performed better, so you can implement that particular set of changes.


What to Test

There is practically no limit to the kinds of tests you can perform. In practical terms however, few people have the time and resources necessary to test each possible variable involved. Fortunately, unless you are running a massive online enterprise such as Facebook or Amazon, this is not that much of a problem. This is because web page elements differ in terms of how much they affect the overall design of your WordPress website. The border thickness of a single button is less important than your main heading, or page background for example. In general, A/B testing can be performed on:

  • Headings – size and typeface choice can determine if visitors will stick around long enough to check out your content
  • Calls to action – arguably the most important page element, includes buttons, forms, and other interactive elements on your page
  • Text – a text copy can completely transform the meaning of a page depending on its quality, tone, and structure
  • Ads – ads can be placed on different spots on the page, and depending where you put them, they can either annoy or entice visitors

This is not an exhaustive list by any means – each element that you can edit through WordPress’ built-in interface (or a plugin) is a viable candidate for testing. Just remember to determine beforehand which elements are worthwhile for testing.


Advantages of Testing

In principle, you can perform A/B testing for theoretical reasons, or out of simple curiosity, but you probably want to do it in order to improve your WordPress website in some tangible way. And while changing a single page element on the basis of a test is not particularly beneficial on its own, if you continue performing A/B tests on a regular basis, and start implementing the right changes, before long your website will become measurable better thanks to:

Improved Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the most important indicator of your website’s overall performance. The more prospects you turn into leads, and leads into paying customers, the better your return on investment will be. WordPress design agencies use regular A/B testing in order to implement their conversion rate optimization strategies. In a nutshell, A/B testing enables you to tweak the looks and functionality of your website until you have design optimized for conversions.

Reduced Bounce Rate

Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that abandon your site without taking any action after they arrive. Bounce rate is the inverse of conversion rate – it represents the percentage of visitors that abandon your website. High bounce rates indicate that visitors are leaving your site without taking any actions that would propel them further down the conversion funnel. A/B testing can be used to locate page elements which are not functioning as well as they could be, so you can modify them later to be more in line with the rest of your design.

Increased Engagement

Conversion rate and bounce rate are both indicators of how engaged your target audience is with your website. A high engagement rate is a prerequisite for extracting commercial gain from your WordPress website. By using A/B testing, you will have a means to measure how engaged your visitors are. The most important elements to test for determining the engagement level of your website are CTA buttons, forms, and other interactive web page elements.


Setting Up a Test Through Google Optimize

The most straightforward way to set up A/B testing is to use the Content Experiments feature in Google Optimize. To prepare your WordPress website for testing, you would be advised to first install a plugin such as Nelio AB testing, in order to streamline the process. After that, you will need to sign up for Google Optimize account, if you don’t already have one. Finally, you need to create different versions of the page you will be testing. Once these steps have been taken care of, you can proceed to set up the actual tests. The process can be divided into five steps:

  1. First, sign in to your Google Optimize account, and proceed to the Experiments page. You will need to provide the URL that leads to the page you will be testing. Click the Create Experiment button to continue.
  2. Next, you are supposed to set a goal for your test. You can choose one that you used previously, or create one from scratch. The objective is the most important part of the test – it is what allows you to gauge how each version of your page is performing.
  3. You now need to submit the modified versions of your original page which will be used for testing. Here you need to make certain that each of the pages you submit is fully accessible online. The pages should ideally differ only in terms of a single element, as this will enable you to acquire more precise results.
  4. Next, you will be given a code snippet which you will need to embed in the head section of your WordPress website, which you can accomplish by copy-pasting it into the header.php file in the root folder of your website.
  5. The final step is to simply click the Next button, wait until Google Optimize verifies that the code snippet has been successfully added to the website, and then press Start, which will initialize the test.

And that is the whole process in a nutshell. Visitors that follow the URL to the original page will get randomly redirected to one of the modified pages. Upon repeated visits, they will always get redirected to the page they were initially shown, provided their browser is configured to store cookies. It will take some time for Google Optimize to begin providing test data, so there is no point in constantly checking how the test is going. Based on the goals you have specified; Google Optimize will later give you a rundown on the performance of each page you used for testing.



A/B testing is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal for measuring the performance of your website. Tests enable you to determine how effective each page element is at converting visitors. By conducting regular A/B testing, you will know how close you are to creating your ideal website.

Author : Nina Ritz

Nina is a technical researcher & writer at DesignRush, a B2B marketplace connecting brands with agencies. She loves to share her experiences and meaningful content that educates and inspires people

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