I’m a huge fan of A/B split and multivariate testing. It simply works. And that means more money at the end of the day.

But because this can be a complicated undertaking depending on the scope of your testing strategy, there are often pages that get left behind.

While the usual suspects (eg. your homepage, your registration page, etc.) are hard to forget, one page that I’ve personally left behind when I first started employing A/B split and multivariate testing is one page you don’t want to ignore: your order form.

I was reminded of this when I read that ClickBank, a popular affiliate program provider, is going to be launching a new order form. The announcement explains why:

As part of our recent update to the look and feel of the ClickBank
website, we are making visual changes to our order form. A brief but
statistically significant split test was recently conducted, and the
modified order form outperformed the current order form. Due to these
positive results, we will begin using a modified version of our order
form on Wednesday, June 17th.

Playing around with an order form seems like risky stuff, especially when you’re running an established business. That’s why I was initially hesitant to apply multivariate to my order form pages. But depending on the type of business you run, all of your good work elsewhere can easily be diminished if your order form isn’t optimized.

Here are some things that I’ve personally found to be useful when experimenting with different versions of order form pages:

  • Layout. It should go without saying, but how you lay out your order form can play a huge role in closing a sale. Something clean and professional looking is obviously going to perform better than something cluttered and ugly. Hopefully you’re closer to the former but little tweaks and improvements can make a world of difference.
  • Messaging. What you say and where you say it on your order form can mean the difference between a completed sale and a lost sale.
  • Imagery. On an order form, there are two areas I’ve found that can influence a sale when it comes to imagery. First, utilitarian imagery (logos of accepted payment methods, security seals, etc.). Second, design imagery. In the latter, you may be surprised to see how the use of different colors or image-based buttons instead of HTML buttons can actually make a difference.
  • Help. The order form is typically the most important page in the checkout process and if the user becomes confused or frustrated, they will often bail. So make sure you’re helping them get through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible. Experimentation with providing explanatory information (eg. how to locate the CSV code on a credit card) and error checking (eg. making sure the user knows how to complete the order form right the first time) can be useful.

While experimenting with your order form may seem dangerous at first, if you do it well and you do it early your bank account will thank you for it.

Photo credit: mil8 via Flickr.