Today we're announcing the next version of Myna. This brings a lot of improvements, some of the highlights being:
you can associate arbitrary JSON data with an experiment. You could use this, for example, to store text or styling information for your web page. This allows you to change an experiment from the dashboard and have the changes appear on your site without redeploying code;
Myna is much more flexible in accepting rewards and views. This enables experiments that involve online and offline components, such as mobile applications;
we have a completely new dashboard, which is faster and easier to use than its predecessor.
If you want to get started right away, login to Myna and click the "v2 Beta" button on your dashboard. This will take you to the new dashboard, where you can create and edit experiments. Then take a look at our new API, part of an all new help site.
Alternatively, read on for more details.
The New API
The changes start with our new API. The whole model of interaction with the API has changed. The old model was to ask Myna for a single suggestion, and send a single reward back to the server. There were numerous problems with this:
- Latency. It took two round trips to use Myna (one to download the client from our CDN, one to get a suggestion from our servers).
- Rigidity. Myna entirely controlled which suggestions were made, and only these suggestions could be rewarded.
- Offline use. Myna's model didn't allow offline use, essential for mobile applications.
The new API solves all these issues.
Instead of asking Myna for a suggestion, clients download experiment information that contains weights for each variant. These weights are Myna's best estimate for the proportion in which variants should be suggested, but clients are free to display any variant they wish. The client can store this information to use offline or to make batches of suggestions.
Views and rewards can be sent to Myna individually or in batches, and there are very few restrictions on what can be sent. If you want to send multiple rewards for a single view, that can be done. There are no restrictions on the delay between views and rewards, so those of you with long funnels can use Myna.
Since you don't have to contact Myna's servers to get a suggestion, all data can be stored in a CDN. This means only a single round-trip, to a fast CDN, to use Myna.
These features combine to make Myna faster for existing uses on websites, and also to allow new uses, such as mobile applications that work offline.
Another major change is to give you more control over experiments from your dashboard. To this end you can associates arbitrary JSON data with your experiments. You can use this data to set, say, text or style information in your experiments. Then any changes you make on your dashboard, including adding new variants, will be automatically reflected in your experiments without deploying new code.
We have also improved the deployment process. Instead of pulling experiments into a page one-by-one, we provide a single CDN-hosted file that contains all your active experiments and the Myna for HTML client.
Finally, we've updated the algorithm Myna uses. It behaves in a more intuitive fashion without sacrificing performance.
The new API is live and is being used in production right now.
The old dashboard wasn't up to scratch. It was difficult to use and wasn't able to support the new features we're adding to the API. As a result we've created a completely new dashboard. Click the "v2 Beta" tab to access it.
The dashboard is still in development, so there are some rough edges. However it's usable enough that we're releasing it now.
Possibly the most exciting new feature is the inspector, which allows you to preview your experiments in the page. Here's a demo. To enable the inspector, just add
There is still a lot of work to do. In addition to finishing the dashboard and documentation we are working on iOS and Android clients. Beyond that we have lots of exciting features in development, which you'll hear more about as they near completion.
One of the most popular questions for new A/B testers is “What should I test?“. There are many blog posts on the Internet that describe testing strategies, effective tests for landing pages, the psychology of testing, and so on. Rather than describe about the usual candidates (hero image, feature list, call to action – you can test them all), I thought I’d provide a fresh perspective on some creative tests that you may not have considered.
1. Signup process
How simple should your landing/signup pages be? If you take away distractions, and give a clean, simple interface that focuses the user, will you see an increase in signups? If you take away too much relevant information, will it turn users off to your site and make them less likely to complete the signup process?
How simple should your signup process be? If you remove distractions and provide a clean, simple interface that focuses visitors’ attention, will you see an increase in signups? Take away too much, or force visitors to sign up before they know what you do or why you need their information and you may scare them away.
2. Information capture
You can test anything along your pipeline from customer acquisition to post-purchase follow-up. Most people like to start with the front-end of the pipeline: SEO to make their web site more visible, and web site optimization to make their landing pages more effective.
Collecting information from potential customers is a tricky business. Collect too little and you’re missing out on potentially useful insights. Ask for too much and you risk putting people off filling in your form. In addition to testing the visual aspects of form design (label positioning, immediate feedback on potential errors, and so on), one of the most useful things you can do is test the amount and format of data you’re trying to capture. After all, all the data in the world is no use to you if it never leaves your customers’ heads!
3. Email content
Communication with your customers is critically important, and it’s not just your website that matters. Emails form a vital part of many businesses’ communication strategy. Take your business’s voice as an example. Do your users prefer more personable, friendly style? Or do they want reassurance that they’re dealing with professionals? Test the style, language and layout of your email content, and measure the response rate or traffic generated over a number campaigns.
4. Features and pricing
Features and pricing are the two main things that affect your value proposition to customers. Fortunately, you can test both of these to see where your value sweet spot lies.
One great way of testing pricing is to test discounts. For example, you could offer one group of customers three months of free use of your product, and another group 25% off for a year. These offers are financially equivalent but offer different value in the short term.
The charitable promotions web site Humble Bundle operate another great example of price testing. They use A/B testing to prompt customers with different suggested donations, to determine the best times to add values to their deals.
Instead to testing pricing, you might consider testing features of your online product. What would happen if you gave users twice the space to upload photos? Would it lead to a financially beneficial increase in sign-ups? Why not run an A/B test to find out?
5. Checkout flow
Many of the tests we explored above for signup processes can also be applied to checkout flow. How much should you focus customers’ attention on completing checkout and paying for the product? What order should you collect payment and delivery information? Is there a good opportunity for additional information capture here?
You can be a lot more flexible in tests by realising that, with the right testing tools, conversion goals don’t need to be “yes/no” affairs. Some tools let you assign secondary goals or, even better, numerical goals that let you stipulate how good the outcome is. For example, in a checkout flow you might instruct your testing tool to put more weight on a conversion if the user has more items in their basket, returns to a basket after saving it, chooses a faster delivery option, and so on.
Hopefully these five crazy off-the-wall examples will inspire you to use A/B testing to improve your product or site in new and unconventional ways. We’ve seen all of these and more at Myna, and we’re constantly being surprised by the resourcefulness and creativity of our users. This isn’t to say that we don’t advocate conventional testing of strap lines, hero images, and button colours – these tests are and always will be perfectly valid. No matter how much you’ve tested your landing pages, though, it’s important to realise that there are always new optimizations to make. Who knows – your next test may just bust you out of a local maximum and take you to a whole new level of success.