Nice interview here by Future Now’s Bryan Eisenberg of Tom Leung, the Google Website Optimizer product business manager.
Tom discusses how Google’s free tool helps to overcome the guessing prevalent in most companies as it pertains to how webpages get designed (I like to call it the HIPPO syndrome…Highest Paid Person’s Opinion):
Let’s say you had a bicycle Web site, and you sold bicycle accessories online. The way you’d design some of those pages is that, for the most part, you’d work with a Web designer. They come back with a few design mockups, and you kind of point at the one you think would work best. You would base that largely on your gut feel, or opinion. In some cases, whoever is the most senior person in the room will just tell you, “I like that one,” and you go with it. This scenario is wrought with a lot of guessing and opinions. What we’re doing is trying to change that with Google Website Optimizer.
And what the tool does:
What the tool does is allow you to instrument the page so that you can test a whole variety of ideas. So you aren’t limited to picking just one of a few design mockups. You can literally test hundreds, if not thousands, of versions of a page. When a visitor arrives at your site, we’ll show them a specific version, and it tracks whether or not they convert, whether it’s purchasing a product, or signing up for a newsletter, or whatever you decide is a successful conversion. Then, it will report back to you which combination worked the best. It takes the guesswork out of marketing by letting customers tell you what works best for them by letting them vote with their clicks. You can constantly test new hunches, new ideas, and turn your Web site into a living laboratory.
I have had the pleasure of interacting with Tom as a part of the Website Optimizer BETA since almost the day he joined Google in December, 2006 (Tom worked previously at Microsoft). Tom is super fired up about Google Website Optimizer and completely committed to making the Internet a better (converting) place.
I also had the chance to spend some very good time with Bryan Eisenberg (while at Google for training/meetings on Google Website Optimizer in late March) and his brother Jeffrey Eisenberg (while he was in Raleigh keynoting for NCTA) last week and I have to say that they are just as fired up about it as well.