Moving Beyond the One-to-Many Web
Online retail giant Amazon has an army of engineers whose job it is to deliver an experience that maximizes profit per square inch for each page on the Amazon website. And they've realized that one of the best ways to do this is through personalization. They examine a user's entire history—the things someone has looked at, clicked on, or purchased—and then deliver exactly the thing they think is most valuable for this user.
Today's A/B testing tools offer advanced targeting and segmentation, allowing the non-Amazons of the world to create tailored experiences for different types of visitors. A business may start by using A/B testing to improve the “average best experience” on its website—a single experience across all types of users. The next step in the company's evolution of optimization is moving from honing the “average best experience” for everyone to grouping users into segments—and then using A/B testing to optimize the experience for each segment. A returning visitor could see a different interface than a new visitor; someone on a tablet could see something different from someone on a desktop; someone from Canada could see something different from someone from the United States. Each segment is an opportunity for optimization.
There are two things that Optimizely and other testing solutions enable to help sites make sense of their user populations: targeting ...