Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Umwelt Testing

Umwelt is the German word for environment, often translated at "self-centered world."  The idea of Umwelt, with a capital U, is that even though your co-workers share much of the same world with you, their own experiences and biases make them perceive this world differently.  Effectively, we are all living in our own worlds, or Umwelten.

The concept of Umwelt is important to websites because it illustrates how hard it is to create a website that lets everyone else see your company the way you do.  

The following sequence of numbers seems random.
( 8 5 4 9 1 7 6 3 2 0 )
But, if you view them as words, instead of numbers, it's easy to see that they are merely alphabetical.
( eight, five, four, nine, one, seven, six, three, two, zero )

The primary goal of split testing is to avoid the error of rational change.  Rational change is a change that is perfectly logical in your world.  Making such a change to your website is only an error, if your visitors don't consider the change to be rational.  

The numbers above seem to be in a logical order, now.  But the things we don't understand are often labeled mistakes.  Split testing helps avoid this mistake by blindly comparing the "success" of the change to the original, pre-change, version.

The really interesting thing happens when you overlay other metrics onto your testing results; you can identify new segments, not based on demographics, but on how your visitors perceive and process your website.