Online Testing and Optimization Solutions: Quick guide to Content Management Systems

Whenever one is evaluating a testing tool – or any tool that claims to help “non-IT” people post Web pages of any kind – the key question becomes, “What do these pages do?” In other words, is it just a static page that asks the user to simply click a link and then move on to other parts of the site? Or is there detailed functionality in the site?

This is a key question because all online testing and optimization tools have limitations, at least from the marketer’s perspective. Many tools will allow you to post content without IT involvement. But these tools will not allow you to magically create significant functionality without IT involvement. By “functionality,” I mean things like login/logout features, the ability to capture and transmit data, or the ability to display data on the page from within the company’s database.

Marketers need to ask themselves, “Am I trying to capture/transmit data (like form submissions) or am I trying to tie into interactive functionality that already exists on the rest of my site?” If the answer is, “Yes”, then all of the online testing tools we are covering in our quick guide blog series might require IT involvement.

Of course, that involvement varies from tool to tool. For this post, we reviewed the Drupal split testing plug-in. Some other content management systems (CMS) may have a testing plug-in as well.

Key benefits

  • One good thing about using a CMS plug-in is that, if you’re using this specific CMS for your site, then you can easily setup page tests using the templates already designed for your site.
  • You can integrate third-party analytics into your reporting interface by using the APIs for Google Analytics and Adobe SiteCatalyst.
  • All CMS plug-ins have their own features – they’re all open source so it’s whatever has been coded and made available to public.
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But keep in mind…

  • Requires more IT involvement than most possible testing tools. Typically, to add the plug-in you’re adding a chunk of code or a file to add to your directory/server.
  • While the amount of technology and development time needed to build out the tool and direct traffic will vary depending on your CMS and available plug-ins, it most likely cannot be implemented without significant programming work. The plug-in is not an end-user friendly module (i.e. IT wouldn’t be able to hand it off to marketing to use).
  • While the plug-in allows you to split-test, it’s not as simple as being able to test once the plug-in is added. The plug-ins typically do not have a user interface, so IT will need to build the interface for test setup (i.e. so someone other than IT can add page URLs, set the % of traffic, etc.). Without building a user interface, every time you’d want to set up/execute a test you need to have IT set it up – which can be time consuming and take away from other important projects.
  • In addition, it is not feature rich. We would recommend you use something more robust.

Cost

  • However, it is free. So if you’re already invested heavily in your CMS, it might be beneficial.

We’d love to hear some customer reviews as well. Use the comments to share your experience with Drupal and other content management systems. And stay tuned to this blog as we provide quick guides for more online testing solutions to help you choose a platform that is best for your individual situation.

Related Resources

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Quick guide to Adobe Test&Target

Quick guide to Google Website Optimizer

Quick guide to Unbounce

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4 Comments

  1. Andrew Benkard says

    > we reviewed the Drupal split testing plug-in

    I assume you are referring to the Multivariate module, and not the outdated split_test module. The former is not very popular, the latter not at all.

    A better solution is using one of the javascript-based web apps (Optimizely, VWO). All you do there on the back end is add a line of code to the site template, and then Marketing can use the mostly-WYSIWIG third party app to monkey with the layout & copy etc. Not much IT involvment there, and easy to back out.

    Drupal can be made marketing-friendly, incidentally. It takes some setup at the beginning. Anyhow, a company that runs Drupal for their website likely sees the value in allowing marketing to add easily content to their website.

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