Perform Split Testing with phpA/B

By Daniel Scocco

Split testing, also called A/B testing, is a testing method where you compare a base sample with another test sample, changing one specific variable inside it.

For example, you could have a base landing page, and then you would compare it against a new landing page where you changed the main headline.

As a blogger, there are many things you could improve with split testing. Examples include:

  • The number of subscribers you get by testing the headline and position of the subscription form.
  • The AdSense earnings by testing different AdSense units and placements.
  • The bounce rate of the blog, by testing different placements of your content above the fold.
  • The number of retweets you get per post, based on the placement of the retweet button.

But how do you perform a split test? You have two options. You can either do it manually, by changing the variable one week at a time and then tracking the results, or by using a piece of software and letting it rotate the variables for you.

The second option, which involves automated software testing tools, is usually the best one, and a couple of days I discovered a software you can use to do that. It is called phpA/B, and it is free as long as you use it for personal purposes.

I haven’t test it yet, but it looks promising. The main idea is to let you test anything within your site, with a simple setup interface. You can also integrate it with Google Analytics if you want.

Definitely worth a look. Once I test it here I’ll write a more complete review, so stay tuned.



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18 Responses to “Perform Split Testing with phpA/B”

  • Nabeel | Create Your First Website

    Hi Daniel,

    I agree, split testing can work wonders and not just in blogging, but in any website like a squeeze page, a sales page etc.

    phpA/B looks like a novel concept and idea. I thought the only way to split test was the ‘this title for one week and the next title for the second week’ approach.

    I wonder how how do you actually implement it on a blog/website?

    Looking forward to the detailed review!

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

    • Daniel Scocco

      It is a php script you need to donwload and install on your server.

      But it is easy to do it, and they have a guide too.

  • carolee Sperry

    I look forward to hear how it works out for you.

  • Paras Chopra

    Hi Daniel,

    PHP A/B is a great package, especially if you are hands down with coding and programming. It also offers you flexibility of testing just about anything.

    However, if you are looking for easier alternatives (which don’t require programming), have a look at our product: Visual Website Optimizer http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com It has WYSIWYG editor for creating variations and doesn’t require any coding or programming. It will be great if you could review it on your blog. I am sure your readers will find it interesting.

    We also have a WordPress plugin for it, which makes running A/B tests a dead-simple task http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/how-to-create-an-ab-test-on-wordpress-or-drupal-sites-without-adding-a-single-line-of-code/

    -Paras Chopra
    Founder, Visual Website Optimizer

  • Josh Garcia

    Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for reminding me of this. I was doing a lot of split testing couple of month back. Then of course, I got comfortable with what I have. I will look at the link. However, tell us how it works with a full review.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  • Justin Germino

    I didn’t do formal split testing but tried out various combinations of AdSense units for one week, then switched a week later and vice versa. Something that automates the split testing is much more beneficial as I had to track all the statistics manually.

  • Sally

    Hi Daniel,

    Do you know something, it’s funny, but I test sales pages and squeeze pages all the time…

    But I never thought to test my blog!

    Can’t see the wood for the trees sometimes until someone points out the obvious.

    Will get onto it pronto!

    Fab post, Sally 🙂

  • Tom | Oral Answers

    Daniel,

    Do you know if there is an easy way to implement this to alternate themes on a WordPress-powered site?

    I noticed that you can add the phpAB code into a page, but I think it would take a LOT of those to change all of the CSS, images, divs, and everything else.

    Thanks for letting us know about this.

    • Rian Orie

      Tom, combined with, for example, a theme switcher plugin this should be relatively easy to do.

      I wonder though, how effective is A/B testing when you change the whole site.. doesn’t it defeat the purpose of A/B testing? The point of A/B testing is to increase results through fine-tuning small parts of your site.

      • Tom | Oral Answers

        Thanks for the reply, Rian. I’ve been working on reducing my bounce rate and I think the theme plays a huge role in that. I would make the themes pretty similar, but change subtle graphics and colors to see if one is more attractive to visitors and entices them to stick around for a while.

        While the theme may play a large role in sites, I think the content is the main attraction… It’s probably not as subtle as many of the other A/B tests that could be performed.

  • Katie

    If you do a review, could you compare it to google webmaster tools?

  • jason

    i have never done split testing, but it definitely sounds like something that I will be performing in the future, as I delve deeper into the depths of blogging.

  • K. Praslowicz

    My initial concern with a PHP based split tester instead of a Javascript based solution such as Test & Target is how it will handle on sites which are using some sort of page caching to reduce server load.

    Keep an eye out for potential lopsided testing segments.

  • godlark

    I’ve never make split testing. Now split testing in my blog may be stupid, because now I am doing a lot of other works on my blog, so results may be falsified.
    I think about write a split tester in Ajax.

  • Mani Viswanathan

    Superb concept. Will try it soon enough.

    Will be waiting for your review though 😛

  • kevinxiao

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along

  • adams

    And why not use Google Website Optimizer for this? Its free.

    • Rian Orie

      As is phpA/B, it doesn’t matter so much what tool you use really, all A/B testing tools provide one big common element in their toolkit, they provide the ability to test between version A and B of a certain aspect in your site. Google website optimizer does this just as well as phpA/B does.

      One might argue phpA/B provides a little more freedom as it actually provides you with tools that you can use to implement the A/B testing, where-as Google website optimizer only provides result verification.

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