Google brings usability to the massesGoogle recently announced the beta-test release of its AdWords-integrated testing tool, Google Website Optimizer. Unfortunately, yours truly hasn't managed to qualify for the trial run yet, but it looks to be exciting stuff. Although primarily designed for landing pages for online advertising, Website Optimizer promises to be a fully-functional testing tool, offering surprisingly complex multivariate testing to the general public.
Basic measurement tools, in the form of goal (conversion) tracking, are already available in Google Analytics. While these tools are traditionally advertising tools, they also provide the basic metrics to help track website usability. I currently use Google Analytics in conjunction with my own split-testing, and Website Optimizer promises even more power, giving you easy methods to switch content as well as the analytical muscle to measure multiple scenarios simultaneously.
The fact that Google sees enough demand to bring these tools to the general public is a good sign that people are finally beginning to understand the value of testing. Hopefully, that's good news for the usability community.
Website Optimizer can actually do a lot of stuff that most people don't realize. I just wrote up some tips and tricks for advanced users.
Dr. Pete· Friday, March 30
Thanks, I'm eager to check it out. Unfortunately, some of us weren't lucky enough to make the beta *sobs quietly*.
It's worth the wait. I was previously using paid services, which at the time were well worth it, but now that google is providing this for free - you can't beat it.
I'm also guess that at some point they'll do some tighter integration with analytics and adwords so you'll have a much better idea of how different content versions effect visitors.