Fostering a testing culture

Try it and see

Try it and see

Back when I worked for a price comparison website, everyone in the company had ideas they wanted to test.

Different designs, copy variations, email subject lines, imagery, functionality… Every element that made up the company’s product was up for grabs.

The business was built on the understanding that being wrong about something gets you one step closer to being right. That business was, and still is, thriving.

A gardener’s mentality

In the world of digital, the idea of A/B testing and CRO has long been championed.

Products are treated like plants – they need constant attention. Prune and tweak your creation and watch as it gets better and better. You’ll never make it perfect, but you can keep edging closer.

But, that’s not the prevalent attitude in some organisations.

In some businesses there’s still an emphasis on getting things right first time. A concept that has no place in the ever-changing digital world.

Instigating change

When I went to work for a public sector organisation, I was surprised by how difficult it was to make changes to existing products.

The level of red tape and number of stakeholders attached to many of the products meant timescales were never going to reflect those in more agile organisations, but there was a real fear of testing.

A lot of the people involved were weaned on the concept that quantity is king. Getting across the idea that spending time testing something that might not work is a good thing, was difficult.

Persistence and empathy 

We held workshops, got everyone involved, shared case studies from similar organisations, made everything transparent and, most importantly, we started small. Really small.

We moved some buttons, changed a few words and waited. We waited till the results were conclusive and then we presented them.

We proved we were making changes that our customers liked.

I was able to show stakeholders that our KPIs were moving in the right direction and secure backing for a more fleshed out testing programme.

Team testing

Sometimes the most experienced people are the most reticent to test new things.

That’s unfortunate seeing as they often deliver the most valuable in terms of insight and coming up with variations. Get them involved and on your side.

Talk through what can and can’t be tested, allay their fears, start small and keep them involved.

Then analyse the results, share the spoils and start over.


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