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Run better experiments with the Mom test

Friday, May 08, 2009 5/08/2009 04:05:00 PM

In Made to Stick, the authors warn us about the curse of knowledge. Simply stated, once we know something it's hard to imagine us not knowing something.

When looking at our websites, we know how they work. We know where to find the Add to Cart button. We know that we'll pick shipping options after we enter billing information. We know the answers to questions that visitors have on their minds, and it's very hard for us to put ourselves in their shoes.

So I'd like to introduce to you, the Mom Tests:

All mothers want what's best for their children, which is, of course, why we love our mothers. While some moms have taken to the Internet with fervor, not all of our mothers are blogging, facebooking, tweeting machines. Moms are always willing to lend a helping hand and give their advice. Here are two ways your mom can help you improve your website.

The Mom Usability Test
Ask Mom to complete a task on your page. You'll want to have her start like an actual visitor would. So, think about how visitors arrive to your page. You could look in Google Analytics at Top Entrance Pages and see how people get to them, or start with a Google search and go from there. Ask your mom to try to buy something on your page or sign up for more information. Ask her to think out loud if she has any questions. Don't try to help or tell her what she should be doing. Just watch and take notes.

The Mom A/B Test
When people test their pages, they often try to test very small changes. Minute changes, like the use of a semicolon or the use of Arial font versus Verdana font (see the difference?), often have no effect on conversions. One rule of thumb to keep in mind is that users make a decision to stay on a page or leave in less than 5 seconds. That means, any change you are testing needs to stand out within 5 seconds.

So where does Mom come in? Show your mom your A page and your B page and ask her what's different. If she struggles to spot the differences, your changes may not be big enough. As for which page will convert better, that's where testing with Website Optimizer comes in.

We hope the Mom Tests help you improve your website and bring you and your mother a little closer this weekend. Happy Mothers' Day to all the Moms out there.


Anonymous said...

This is so grateful,I understand what the two test is for in 5 minute.Thank you very much!Good work.

Galen said...

Fantastic - I love the concept of the mom test. It really is very easy to get caught up in changing tiny things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Unknown said...

I love this blogger template! Can u send me the xml of the code?

Thank u!

Unknown said...

& when testing a golf site, you can also employ the ever-powerful DAD test.

May said...

Thank you so much!!!


Sebastian Pospischil said...

Thats so cool! We always use the mom test (actually not always with moms) on new screendesigns for Website Optimizer tests. Best way to find out if you page is suitable for the definded goal.

Abraham van der Linde said...

Thanks for making optimization a bit clearer and easier for me. This will help me a lot because other sites that help people with optimization are sometimes a bit expensive. How much better than free can you get.

Abraham van der Linde
Greater Profits Group.

Rene said...

Thank you. Great!

Online ads for sites. said...

Ha ha may be i should use Mom test for site pages!

Web Design Quote said...

You give to the users really great concept of testing your web site,I agreed your opinion and ideas so for.I think it is a very god way of testing,such as mom test.

Ian Garlic said...

That's funny because it had often been that way for our team. When we create a new video or website that is a little experimental I always call up a mom in my family and ask "What does it mean to you?" or "Could you get ( a certain piece of information for me?" I am very fortunate to have a lot of mothers in my family so I can group test our sites.

I never thought of the A/B experiment though. But does A/B testing always have to be a consciously noticeable difference?

The only problem from here is I feel next I will be having my mom play Pac Man for cheese. I guess that's not so bad. I would do play anything for cheese.

Medela backpack said...

Thanks for the great stuff in here, I just love this blog, started following you right away!

mdg33 said...

"In Made to Stick, the authors warn us about the curse of knowledge. Simply stated, once we know something it's hard to imagine us not knowing something."

Yes, and all Google GA and GWO staff should be beaten around the head by this fact everyday until they get it.

You guys either do not understand or practice this.

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