We discussed user testing in Intro to Instructional Design last week, and how testing your product or instruction with just one user can dramatically improve your product’s usability and effectiveness.
I found it interesting that around the same time, Google announced the Google Website Optimizer. At first, it sounds like this is made to make your site load faster or somesuch, but it’s actually much more than that. GWO is a free tool for conducting experiments and testing conversion rate — which essentially is the percentage of the time your visitors actually do what you want them to when they come.
The cool thing is that it lets you move things around on your page, for example, and it randomly serves up different versions of your site to people who visit. You can then look very closely at the data and see which variations of your page are proving most effective. The other great thing is that it tests both your target audience and people outside it.
I can think of a few ways this could prove very useful on our school’s websites. If you want to know more about it, check out A Beginner’s Guide to Google Website Optimizer on Kissmetrics.