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Testing website data, design and content: A guide to your first A/B test

A/B testing is an easy way to test data, design, and content on your website. The process allows you to learn more about your site visitors and tailor the experience to their specific needs.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing compares two versions of a webpage against one another, then declares a winner based on the most successful conversion rate. When a visitor lands on a webpage, they are served up either the A test, or the variation, called the B test. It is very common to test call-to-action copy, website copy, specific interactions, or design elements.

A/B Testing is a crucial means of measuring that allows you to see into your users behavior. It gives you the opportunity to learn more about your audiences preferences and test various design solutions without an entire revamp of your website. Additionally, it gives your team the freedom and power to constantly innovate, allowing your website to become an organic and ever-evolving product. By learning more about your visitors, you are able to optimize your website, creating a voice between the website and your audience.

What can you test?

You can test a variety of content options, from copy to design. Here is a list of A/B testing possibilities to get you thinking:
  • Headlines
  • Sub headlines
  • Paragraph text
  • Testimonials
  • Call to action text
  • Call to action Button
  • Links
  • Images
  • Content near the fold
  • Forms

How to get started

  1. Get to know your data
    The first step to beginning any A/B testing experiment is to begin with metrics. Analyzing your website data, bounce rates, conversion rates, and page views will help you establish a baseline.
  2. Identify testing goals
    After combing through the data, the next step is to specify what to test. Whether it’s a specific call-to-action, button, or other type of content, you need to identify what to test and set a goal.
  3. Execute the test
    Once you decide what you are testing, create your opposing test. For example, if you are testing content, you should create a second version of the content to test against. Then you're ready to run the test.
  4. Compare results and take action
    We typically recommend allowing two weeks for a test to run before making any assumptions based on the results. Results can significantly change depending on the amount of visitors to your site. Visual Website Optimizer has a great tool that calculates this for you. Once a winner is declared, you can immediately implement the successful test and see improved website performance.
That's it! By following these steps you have the opportunity to fine-tune your website according to your user's needs. Keep in mind, you may not always get a declared winner and additional testing may be necessary.

More resources

Smashing Magazine's ultimate guide to A/B testing
Usability Geek's intro to A/B testing
Mashable's tools and resources for AB testing

Popular tools for A/B testing

Visual Website Optimizer

Need help planning or executing your next A/B test? TBH Creative can help. Contact us today to get started.

Practical uses of animated GIFs in web design

What comes to mind when you hear "animated GIF"? Do you think back to the days when animated clip art ruled on websites hosted on Geocities and MySpace? Do you associate the term with Tumblr or Buzzfeed, where animated GIFs pop up on a daily basis? (If all you're thinking is "what's a GIF?" then check out this short Animated GIF documentary.)

Regardless of your familiarity, what you may not realize is that animated GIFs can be valuable tools for anything from design mock-ups to email marketing pitches.

Here are some helpful examples of how to effectively put animated GIFs to use:

Interactive mock-ups

Presenting mock-ups for a website, mobile app, and other web-based products can be a challenging process. Many designers provide static images to clients in order to show overall design, but portraying interactivity using static images is nearly impossible. Some designers use animated GIFs to solve this mock-up problem. These examples show how comps with animation improve comprehensive:


By providing an animated GIF instead of a static image, designers can portray how websites and apps will function once complete and how users can use them. Using animated GIFs can be a great deal more effective, especially for people who need to see how something works in order to understand it.

Alternative to CSS3 animations or videos

While CSS3 can be used to provide animation on websites, if you need to support older browsers, it might not be your best option. Animated GIFs are a useful alternative because even older browsers support them. In some cases animated GIFs can be used in place of video as well, especially when a more lightweight option is needed. For example, take a look at the Giant Ant site. When you hover over the icons on the home page, they turn into short animations. The creators of this site opted to use animated GIFs instead of using a video to achieve this effect.

The Giant Ant homepage uses animated GIFs for icons.

Animated GIFs also make a great alternative to video and coding solutions because of how easy they are to create. If you have Adobe Photoshop, you can create one without any extra software required. They don't require any coding experience and can be used as easily as any other image file type.

User engagement

Animated GIFs can help make a website more engaging for users. They can be used to make certain areas of your website stand out, and showcase your content in new and exciting ways. Even just adding a touch of life to photos can get a user's attention better than a static image. Using animation adds a sense of interactivity to your content and can have a bigger impact on users.

Email marketing

Email marketing is another area in which animated GIFs are used in creative ways. It's hard to capture the attention of email recipients with all of the clutter in inboxes these days, but incorporating animation in your messaging is a great way for businesses to stand out. Developing creative content for HTML emails can be challenging when working with such a limiting medium, but animated GIFs open up new opportunities for showcasing products and services. Take a look at some examples of animated GIFs in emails to see how companies are utilizing this technique.

Want more? Check out some creative uses of animated GIFs on the web in our animated GIFs and SVGs showcase.

Three areas to consider when selecting a web design agency

Are we a good match for your web project?

There are some key things you should consider when you start looking for a web design and development firm. Those criteria will help you make sure you get the best fit for your needs and budget. We’ve compiled a list of suggested items to analyze when you are in the process of selecting a web design and development firm:

1. Design Needs:

  • Are you looking for a unique, creative, and compelling design that represents your brand?
  • How big is your site/how many pages?
  • Do you want a design that can grow with your company with the ability to add features over time?

2. Functionality Needs:

  • Do you need custom functionality as part of your website?
  • Do you want the ability to maintain pages and content yourself?
  • Do you need complementary services such as email marketing, search engine optimization or social networking assistance?

3. Intangible Needs:

  • Do you have challenges that require expert guidance, recommendations and options?
  • Have you earmarked budget money to create and manage a high-end website project?
If you answered yes to most of above questions, TBH Creative would be a great match. The team at TBH Creative understands that a website project—whether a redesign or brand new website—is more than just a website. We thrive on projects that take your website to the next level. We offer design, application development, customized functionality, content management systems, online marketing services and more. When you need the whole picture, you need TBH Creative.

If you are at the phase where your website design and development needs aren’t quite that big, there are some great resources available to you. Try using a template site, freeware, or contact your local college to hire a student. And when your business grows to the point where you’re ready for a professional online marketing strategy—we’re ready to talk.

Still not sure if we’re the right match? Give us a call. We might be able to help. Sometimes it is hard to determine upfront and we are happy to talk through some options with you.

How important is a good website?

A professional, strategic website can move you ahead of the competition.

We’ve all been there. You click on a website and find it an eyesore. You can’t find the information you need. The home page keeps crashing. You leave frustrated. A bad or outdated website can cost you clients.

It's not enough to just have a website. These days everyone has a website.

Don’t settle for good when it comes to your corporate website—be great. Visible 24/7 to people all over the globe, your website is your most powerful marketing strategy. No printed brochure or magazine advertisement reaches more potential clients or offers the flexibility to easily update content as your business grows.
Business owners, consider this:
How much money did you spend on your office lobby? The fancy leather couch, the cherry wood floor, the custom lighting, the artwork? Now, how many people come through your lobby each week? 10, 20, 30?

Compare that to the thousands of visitors who might show up at your website on any given day... No lobby even comes close to reaching such a broad audience.

A strategic online presence is your most powerful investment

Don’t take shortcuts with your public face. No other marketing tool offers a better opportunity to grow your business and see real results. Your website can deliver substantial return on investment, and TBH Creative can help get you there.

Creating and maintaining a great website is a huge responsibility. It must be updated often, be usable and informative, and also visually appealing, fast loading, and functional. This can be an overwhelming job for a business owner or marketing manager. Let TBH Creative lend a hand with our expert website strategy services.

If your website doesn’t make your company, group, or organization shine, it’s time to take advantage of the opportunities a well-designed, easy-to-use, and informative website can offer. TBH Creative is excited to help you get started.

Ask yourself
  • Where does your company website stack up in the mix of bad to great business websites?
  • Is your company professional, knowledgeable, reliable, error-free, and better than the competition? Yes? Then make sure your website communicates your greatness.

Five reasons your business needs a mobile website

With continuous advancements in mobile technology, it is becoming increasingly beneficial to have a mobile website for your business. A standard website may work on different devices but websites not developed to be mobile-friendly may steer customers away. Poor usability on website not formatted for mobile use might display text that's hard to read or integrate a navigation system that's a hassle.

Indianapolis Web Design Firm: Answers your Common Website Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Website Design Questions

1. How do I choose a website vendor?

Choosing a website company can be difficult because there are so many options. First consider if you need a professional website company or a design or marketing agency. If you are planning to do some of the work yourself, you likely don’t need either.

If you have decided to use a web design firm, we recommend that you select a few based on referrals and/or samples of their web design work. Have a conversation with your top choices. These selected companies should be based on referrals and/or samples of their web design work. A trustworthy company will be happy to show samples, provide references, and give examples of similar projects to yours.
Tip: Be aware of the service you receive when starting the bidding process. How quickly do they return your calls or initial email of interest? Are they friendly and help explain options? Are they willing to listen to your needs and goals?
Contact TBH Creative if you're looking for a high-end website solution for your business. We welcome the chance to impress you right from the beginning.

2. I’m no design expert. What do I look for when I’m reviewing design work?

Simply put, you should look for something you like. It doesn’t have to be in the same industry, but it should have a professional style and quality that you want for your website. Do not choose a company whose samples of work you don’t like because you will likely receive something very similar in quality and style.

Contact TBH Creative and ask to see our work—or take a look right now. We welcome the chance to impress you right from the beginning.

3. How much does a website cost?

A freelancer versus a full service web company will offer significantly different prices – and also very different results. The first thing to do is figure out what you really need and define your online plan. We understand that everyone wants to know numbers and pricing is a realistic question to ask. Remember that all projects and clients are different, but our guidelines will give you a fairly accurate idea.

Read more about How much will a new website cost?

4. When will my website be done? How long will the project take?

For TBH Creative, this question will vary based on your project size, our current project pipeline, and a few things on your end as well. Sometimes the biggest hold-up in a project is on the client’s end as they draft content or linger over approvals. As a general idea, a small website (10-15 pages) can be completed in 2 months. A medium website in 2-4 months. A large website can be anywhere from 3-9 months.

Remember, we recommend a phased approach and continual web services throughout the year for maximum effectiveness. Overall, we are pretty flexible to meet your deadlines if they are realistic and you have your 'stuff' ready to go.

Contact TBH Creative to get your timeline started.

5. My website is not found in search engines. How can I change this? What is Search Engine Optimization?

Clients often say, "I want to show up higher on the list in Google." Our response: “For which phrase or keywords?” A question often answered with: “I have no idea.”

If you want to rank in search engines, the starting point is to determine for what terms you want to be found. Our search experts can help determine if those are smart targeted keywords, worth your dollars for ROI, and often give suggestions for better targets.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process to increase visitors to a website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. SEO should be done separately from the initial website design project – although a quality firm will do internal optimization during web development and keep SEO always in mind. SEO requires an ongoing effort to beat the competition and stay on top of the search engine changes. Remember, you aren't the only one who wants to be on top!

Learn more about our search engine optimization services.

6. Do I need a blog? What about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+?

Social media can be a powerful online marketing tool. Used correctly, social media can:
  • Increase your search engine recognition and ranking.
  • Build authority and raise awareness of your expertise
  • Impact your public image and attract new customers, supporters, or sales.
  • Serve as a platform to inform about your services, products or cause.
  • Drive new business, promote events, and answer industry questions.
  • Grow company connections and morale through competitions or staff spotlight segments.
  • Distribute audio, video, forms, survey, and other interactive ideas.
Blogging and social media may or may not be the right solution for your company, but it should definitely be considered as part of your online plan.

Learn more about our social media services.

7. How can I make updates to my web pages? What is CMS?

There are essentially two primary ways to make changes, additions, and updates to your web pages.

If your website is fairly "static" (doesn't change often and not connected to a database), you will contact your website developer to make changes. If you are the technical and/or DIY type, you will need to purchase and learn how to use basic web editing software such as Dreamweaver or Frontpage to make changes and load to a web server using FTP.

If your website changes often and has been set up with dynamic capabilities, you will use CMS software to update your website. A Content Management System (known as "CMS") is online software that allows your staff to maintain your website pages in-house without technical expertise or knowledge of HTML. You log in, choose a page, make changes in a WYSIWYG (What You See IsWhat You Get) editor, and save. Changes and additions can be made at any time, immediately, and without desktop software.

Learn more about our flexible and powerful content management system.

8. How will I know that my site is successful?

Building a website is really just the first step. Evaluation, testing and planning are an ongoing effort. It is important to understand that web strategy is integral in your online success.
It is no longer the days where if you build it, they will come. That's okay though, there is so much more available now and we thrive on giving our clients the advantage. Our Site Success Manager is a good place to start.

Learn more about our results driven online strategy services.

9. Can someone help with writing content for my web pages?

Absolutely. In fact, we strongly recommend you receive professional help writing or editing your web page content. Why?
  1. Writing web page content is a HUGE job. Many of our projects are put 'on hold' while a company tries to write the information themselves. Oftentimes, ending with our expert editors stepping in afterwards.
  2. Online Communication is not like writing in any other medium – because people read quicker and scan online. It is a learned skill to write effective messages for the web.
  3. There are a lot of technical things to consider that a professional writer can offer, such as inserting keywords, defining title, inserting appropriate on-page links, and using search-worthy headlines.
  4. Many companies have different people from the company write different pages. This leads to poor flow and unprofessional messages. Your pages should all have the same style and tone.
  5. Trained writers are clever and witty. Not that you aren't, but these guys do it for a living.
  6. An experienced writer will always keep your goals and audience in mind and can craft inviting Call To Action areas that will help your conversion/success.
Professionally written website messages enhance the user experience, improve your SEO and help effectively tell your story or answer your visitor's questions. We encourage you to start putting draft information together as a starting point. That will help the writer or editor get started and ask appropriate questions to support the information already provided.

Learn more about our web page writing and editing services.

10. Do I need a mobile site?

The percentage of people accessing the Internet via smart phone or tablet increases every month. Pull up your website on your phone. How does it look? Is it easy to read? Is it fully functional? There are a few different ways to tackle a mobile solution and TBH Creative is ready whether you want a mobile design or a full responsive design.

Learn more about our mobile solutions.

11. Can you help me make sense of web statistics and analytics?

You don’t have to be a numbers geek to understand the importance of measuring traffic and audience behavior. We have access to a variety of tools to help you stay on top of your website and take advantage of its inherent flexibility. We’ll sort through the data for you and give you sound recommendations.

Learn more about our analytic reporting services.

12. I don’t just want a website. I need an online application, can you do that?

Yes! TBH Creative is a full service web design and development firm. We can handle all aspects of a website project from strategy to design, from application development to content writing, from online marketing to mobile solutions and more. We’d love to hear your needs and plans and determine the smartest way to accomplish your goals.

Contact TBH Creative to get the discussion started.

Quality vs Quantity in Website Content

Website planning sketches (Photo by Garrett Coakley, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
We've all heard the saying "less is more." That is never truer than when we consider web content. It can seem exciting to have unlimited page length to write as much content as you desire—after all there are no print margins or word counts to consider on a web page—but if you pack a page too full of content, you're likely chasing away your audience.

Many websites have three levels:

  1. Home page
  2. All pages linked off the main menu
  3. Pages that are linked off main menu items
On the first two levels it is important that you keep content short and direct with clear calls to action. Check out our post about the importance of calls to action. The main purpose of these pages is to introduce yourself and draw people deeper into the site. Once someone clicks through to the third level (or deeper on large sites) you can introduce more content. At this stage the reader has proven an interest in what you have to say and if you force them to click much deeper for information they will be frustrated. 

At all levels, you should carefully consider what and how you want to say it. Set goals for each page—goals in the main points to communicate and goals in what you want your audience to do after reading the page. Make this part of your planning and your website will be more successful. 

How does responsive design affect web content?

Responsive design—a design that scales and works on any device whether a laptop, tablet or phone—is most likely driven by a desire for your site to work well and present itself cleanly on any size screen. Of course the design and layout are important in that process but so is content!

As a design scales the content on the page is likely to shift—say move from three columns wide to two or even one column. Sidebars often drop to the bottom of the page. And sometimes, content drops off the page entirely in an effort to make the page more manageable on a small screen. Now, you can't write separate content for a responsive design since it's using the same content by its nature. However, you can keep this scale-able movement in mind when writing content.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do with content is create content categories and work with your design team to decide what happens to each category as the page shifts in size. Then, instead of an important call to action in the sidebar always dropping to the bottom of a page—you can have it display further up the page as the design narrows causing the sidebar to drop.

A few great articles about responsive design and content:
The take-away from this article? Give your content the same planning and forethought that you give to the rest of your site and you'll have a website that reaches your audience no matter how they are accessing your site.

How much will a good website cost?

Defining how much a website should cost is one of the most common questions in the web design world. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for calculating the cost of a website project at TBH Creative because we don’t create one-size-fits-all solutions. Our solutions are custom built around your specific needs and goals.

When considering the cost of a website project, remember that your website is a 24/7 marketing tool. It can make huge impact on business success, gaining new clients, and winning project bids. Learn more about the importance of a great website.

Comparing web design services is not apples to apples.

If you have not worked on a web project before, expect to see a large range of costs from different vendors. When you compare web design portfolios and proposal offerings you will see the difference in the solutions offered.

Let’s talk dollars.

Research shows that your website offers the best and most measurable ROI. So let’s get down to business and determine a realistic budget.

We recommend that you spend at least 50% of your marketing budget each year on your online marketing strategy. For the sake of quick math, let’s say your monthly marketing budget is $8,000—that would be $4,000/month for website work. Maybe you spend a large chunk the first year to get a new website in place. Then, the following year use the dollars for analytic reporting, social media strategy, complementary email marketing with landing pages, search engine optimization, or other Site Success Manager™ projects.

The best things about your website is that you can easily test out new things, check statistics, adjust, tweak, and do it all over again to find what works best. By keeping money in your budget for online strategy year round, you will be ready for new ideas or technology to maintain a competitive advantage.

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