In Friday Link, Tools

optimizely-logoArthur C Clarke famously said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.  I find it easy to see how a mobile phone would appear like magic to someone from 100 years ago, but as a technologist I have very seldom experienced the illusion myself*, much less from a website.

Optimizely did it to me.  I did a double take and said to myself “that’s just not possible”.  I still marvel and wonder at the feat of technical ingenuity that makes it possible.

Until I discovered Optimisely, I saw A/B testing of web pages (to test the effectiveness of different copy and design)  as a hideous collision between design, marketing, statistics and technical implementation.  Simple in principle, it sounded fiddly and complicated in practice.  Setting up alternate versions of pages, deploying them, managing them, and analysing the statistics generated sounded like an error-prone minefield.

Optimizely changes all that.

Optimizely allows you to edit your own web page in-browser almost as if it was a word document or design package.  You can create different variants to test, group them into experiments, and and view the statistics of the results of those experiments.  This is all done interactively through a single, simple control system.  The ONLY change you have to make to your own website is the addition of ONE line of javascript code to the header of pages you wish to experiment on – for many sites this will only have to happen once in the master template.

If someone had told me they were going to build this system, I would have admired their ambition and laughed at their naivety in thinking so complex could be made to actually work.  I would have been wrong.

Watch the video on the Optimizely homepage to learn more.  Even if you’re not interested in A/B testing, you might enjoy the magic show.  It’s implausible folks, but it’s real.

* The last time I had a real “wow” moment was when the iPod Nano 6th generation came out.  It’s tiny, but with smooth flowing graphics and a touchscreen UI.  Even though I have owned one for around two years, I still find it a little implausible…


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