If your organization isn’t testing for good user experience, you need to start right now. You are potentially losing money if you aren’t testing. If you’re going to budget a lot of time and money on a brand-new campaign, you want to make sure it’ll be effective and meet your goals. Testing can help with that. It can help you think like your constituents and discover paths or strategies you didn’t even know you should be thinking about. So, how do you get started?

Establish a testing blueprint. First is the time-frame. It’s actually always a good time to test, whether you’re looking at high-traffic pages and conversion pages on your website or an email campaign.

But there are some optimal times you should take advantage of to get the biggest bang for your testing buck:
• Before a redesign
• Before an end of year campaign
• Before a large fundraising event or push (awareness or action months)

You may notice a common theme with all of these. By testing before instead of during large redesigns or campaigns, you will accumulate important data on how your constituents are using your site or responding to your campaigns — and where any problem areas may lie — so you know where the most essential or cost-effective changes need to take place.

Defining your testing goals
Next, the big question you have to ask is “what are we measuring?” That depends on what you want to accomplish with your site or campaign, for example, increase donations, gain more email sign-ups, expand engagement via email, etc. Once you decide on your goals, you can refine them by adding clear measurables, such as how to increase donations through click-through’s or conversions or average amounts.

Then you can define your goals with specific actions to test. For instance, would a donation light-box on high-traffic pages increase donation click-through’s? Or would stronger mission-based language or calls to action in emails?

Before you begin testing, you should establish a control or baseline that you can measure your test against. These questions can help with that:
• What is your current performance on these pages/campaigns?
• What is the industry and organization average performance?
• How long will the test run to ensure statistically significant data?
• What is a realistic expectation of success?

Tools you can use
You have several options when it comes to tools you can use for testing purposes. For data collection and analysis, you can choose your native platform analytics, such as Luminate Online Reporting or Jetpack for WordPress. Since this option is included with your existing platform, the learning curve tends to be quicker and there’s no additional cost involved. Another easy-to-use tool is Crazy Egg, which uses heat mapping to present a visual guide of how people are interacting with your website. It’s a great way to actually see where people are clicking, scrolling, or hovering the most on a page, and won’t cost organizations a lot of money to implement.

Optimizely is a content management platform that enables you to quickly and easily switch out sections of your web pages to enable A/B or variation testing (publishing multiple versions of the same page to different audiences) as well as geo-targeting content to specific audiences. The content management system inserts JavaScript snippets into your site’s code and uses its platform to run and report on your testing experiments. The platform is priced based on the number of unique website visitors exposed to the test. That along with the simplified coding functionality means it comes with a higher price tag, but depending on your organization’s testing needs, the cost may be worth it.

For email testing, Movable Ink offers an easy, low-cost (based on the number of email sent) option. Your organization can engage your users with dynamic images based on geography, constituent information, specific dates/times and even the local weather! It’s a very dynamic and flexible tool.

Of course, we can’t forget Google Analytics. A popular and free option, it also involves inserting JavaScript snippets on pages you want to track, and if you want to do variation testing, you can add Google Experiments to your toolkit. You can also review your testing parameters and access reports through these platforms.

Once you begin regular testing, you’ll be able to move your mission forward with greater confidence that you are engaging with your constituents in the most effective and positive way possible.