Required Reading on Conversion: Seven Testing Pitfalls

Stompernet faculty member & "Chief Scientest" (sic) Andy Edmonds pointed out a very useful resource the other day:

Seven Pitfalls to Avoid when Running Controlled Experiments on the Web is a great white paper by Thomas Crook, Brian Frasca, Ronny Kohavi, Roger Longbotham from Microsoft. Check out the site for the MSFT Experimentation Platform while you’re at it. Cool stuff.

For those of you who don’t know Andy, he used to work at Microsoft, on the Live Search team. He does research, actual work, tool development, and training for us at Stompernet, on analytics, usability, testing, and conversion. He is smarter than everyone I have ever met, combined. Andy’s "Always Be Testing" blog is required reading for anyone working in any of the above areas. Seriously.

Andy’s "Scrutinizer" tool is also one of the coolest free things any web designer, conversion/usability professional, or web entrepreneur could ever wish for. It lets you see your website the way your visitors do, by simulating human vision. This allows you to spot subtle weaknesses in design, usability, and conversion that would otherwise require expensive eye-tracking studies to understand.

Big Screen – Cool Firefox Extension

Quick hat tip to Andy Edmonds, for his "big screen" extension, which helps those of us with giant monitors view pages that don’t render so well at large sizes. Allows you to split your screen up into multiple panes, plus a couple other cool features like draging-n-droping links between windows. Andy has been working on issues like this for a while, his earlier linked views FF hack allowed you to scroll two side by side windows at the same time.

Andy Edmonds is one smart guy, BTW. If you care about testing, you want to grab the "Always Be Testing" feed in your newsreader. Here’s a recent example, where he shows how test results may vary between new & returning visitors… and how to get at the truth with Google Analytics.

Free Camtasia Studio – Make your own screencast videos

Just saw this today… . Since we’ve got a video contest coming up, I thought you could all use a link to some free software. :D

Camtasia Studio 3, free: http://www.paulcolligan.com/2007/11/21/free-camtasia-studio/

No time to hunt down the original source, so Paul gets the link.

Camtasia Studio is the same software I use to make my own video trainings, like the free 6-week Link Building Clinic for registered subscribers.

BTW, quick tip… don’t try to record sound with a microphone plugged into a hardware audio jack.
Just about any USB mike (I use a Logitech gaming headset nowadays) will sound a lot cleaner.

Rand's New SEO Quiz…

Since Rand has included more than a few things that are a matter of opinion, and at least one thing where he is just plain wrong, take it for what it’s worth… it’s fun anyway.

Watch out for #3 and #17, and try to think like Rand. Read #72 carefully, because monitor dyslexia had me all confused on that one.

They had some kind of coding problem on #65 because I have the right answer (even according to Rand!) yet it’s scored as wrong… so if you get 100% you didn’t really… and if you don’t get 100% (I scored 86%) you can just fix the code for your image and make yourself feel better, like this:

SEO Overlord – 100%

Take Rand’s Quiz

Relevance, Discoverability, and Crawlability

I hate to blog about bloggers blogging about blogging… but sometimes someone does write something in that "BBAB" line that’s worth mentionining. For example, Vanessa Fox…. with an excellent 4-post series that takes you above the SEO fray, to consider relevance, discoverability, and crawlability. Most of the specific examples are going to have more relevance to bloggers than others – it was written for bloggers. After years of screaming in the woods about relevance, it’s nice to see someone who gets it, or at least sort of does.