• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Design Testing

    November 19th, 2011
    experiment, tech, work  [html]
    One of the things I really like about working on websites is that we can run real experiments. If we have a change we're considering making, we can have half our users see the new version while the other half see the old version, and we can see which one performs better. [1] These are randomized, controlled, double blind trials, with no publication bias issues, and a successful result means a better version of our site that we can start using immediately. After years in school where running a proper experiment meant weeks of careful experiment design, laborious data collection, compromises in experimental procedure for the sake of practicality, insufficient sample sizes, poor generalization, and unclear usefulness, this is really satisfying.

    One humbling aspect is that I've realized I'm not very good at predicting whether a change will help. None of us are. When we test new designs, sometimes they work well and other times they don't. [2] For an example of this, consider two redesigns from the early days of our daily deals website. The first is an email design, the second is a site design:

    Old:
    New:
    Old:
    New:
    One of these was a 14% improvement, the other a 27% degradation. Can you tell which was which?


    [1] Not all websites have an obvious metric for "performs better". For example, how does wikipedia know if a site change improves things for their users? (More edits? Better edits? More time reading? Less time?) We're generally trying to sell things, however, so we can mostly just look at the fraction of users who advance to the next step in the sales process.

    [2] This really shows the value of testing: if we just made every change we thought was good, we wouldn't improve anywhere near as much as just adopting the changes that help.

    Comment via: google plus, facebook

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    Collections: The Queen’s Latin or Who Were the Romans? Part IV: The Color of Purple

    This is the fourth part (I, II, III) of our series asking the question “Who were the Romans?” and contrasting the answer we get from the historical evidence with the pop-cultural image of the Romans as a culturally and ethnically homogeneous society typic…

    via A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry July 23, 2021

    The Leakage Problem

    I’ve spent more than ten years talking about the cost of construction of physical infrastructure, starting with subways and then branching on to other things, most. And yet there’s a problem of comparable size when discussing infrastructure waste, which, …

    via Pedestrian Observations July 23, 2021

    Songs about terrible relationships

    [Spoilers for several old musicals.] TV Tropes lists dozens of examples of the “I want” song (where the hero of a musical sings about their dream of escaping their small surroundings). After watching a bunch of musicals on maternity leave, I’m wondering h…

    via The whole sky July 17, 2021

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact