Google Website Optimizer Sucks?

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If you are regular reader of my blog (and hopefully you are), you will have probably noticed by now that I am a huge fan of testing to build websites that truly meet visitors needs. And one of the free tools you can use to test ideas to help improve your website is Google Website Optimizer (many more tools to help are in my new free website optimization ebook by the way). And for the most part, this is an amazing tool. But, I have recently discovering more and more things that well, kind of suck about it. So just what sucks about it? Read on to find out…

1: Introduce non-traditional based conversion events.  Google Website Optimizer is great for testing websites that have easily definable goals, like newsletter signups, ebook downloads, or product purchases. This is because you can easily tag the thanks page with the conversion code. But what about for other types of websites that don’t have traditional goals, like media websites? Currently the only non page-based event you can use is time spent on page as a conversion, but its not easily done in the tool. What about tracking conversions on link clicks? And what about tracking conversions on ajax related dynamic page elements that don’t necessarily result in a new page being created after clicking on it (so can’t add the conversion code to it). Surely this is going to be even more problematic in the future given the amount of websites now using dynamic elements on websites that don’t refresh or change the page.

2: Adding multiple conversion success pages for one experiment. Currenly you can only add one conversion page per test. Adding this would enable you to do one test that includes several links all on the same page that go to many different pages. And by this, I mean it would be great to see if changing one thing on the page influenced the clickthrough rate of the page. For example, testing the usage of underlined links, or changing the color of links or headers.

3: Introduce pageviews per visit as a conversion event. This is really a continuation of my first point. Many media/content rich websites don’t have regular goals – often the goal is simply to increase page views per visit (for ad revenue). Allowing for a way to test which versions contribute to the most pageviews per visit would be an excellent thing to be able to report on, and is also a great indicator of how engaged a visitor is.

4: Allow segmentation of visitors who convert. This is more advanced functionality, like Test and Target offers. I know its probably a tough one to integrate, but it would be VERY useful to gather real insight into what happens before and after visitors have converted. For example, segmenting for referral sources (someone might convert differently if they come from paid search in comparison to organic search) and for what the visitor then usually does  after converting (much like active segments would reveal). For example, one test may win, but may result in high bounce rates after they convert. Without this segmentation, there is no way of knowing what happens after the conversion.

5: Allow email notifications when test is successfully completed. Come on Google, surely this is surely a fairly easy one to implement. There is no way of knowing when a test is competed, and its pretty annoying to have to keep logging in and checking everyday. And this could take days if you are testing a low traffic website or pages!

6: Integrate Google Website Optimizer with Google Analytics. Wouldn’t it be great to see test results in Google Analytics and vice versa? Surely this should be fairly easy to do in practice and would allow much greater analysis and insight for tests and the impact they have. There are probably advanced hacks out there that let you do this, but why not offer this, much like Google Adwords integrates with Google Analytics?

So there you have it. Hopefully Google is listening? Does anyone else have pet peeves with Google Website Optimizer? How about Brian Eisenberg in particular? (Brian just wrote a great book all about Google Website Optimizer by the way). Post your responses below, and who knows, maybe they might get implemented sooner rather than later!

Also, a quick shout out to the many many cool fellow bloggers that I met at the Blogworld Expo last weekend in Vegas! You know who you are 🙂