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Learn the Right Lesson From Your A/B Test.

6.15.2013

I can't remember exactly where, but a few weeks ago I read an article / blog post which stuck in my mind. The author stated that an A/B test had shown reduced visit times and a higher bounce rate when the article creation date was displayed at the top of the article rather than at the bottom. So the author kept the "date on bottom" aspect from the original design.

I understand the visitor behavior demonstrated by that test. When I'm looking for technical advice, I absolutely use an article's date as a signal of how trustworthy the information is. Three years ago - especially in web development time - is ancient history.

It seems to me that the blog author learned the wrong lesson from that A/B test. The visitors were saying "We prefer relevant and up-to date information". Leaving the article's date at the bottom of the article may have hurt the visitor's goodwill (aka trust in the brand) towards the site, and that's something that can't be A/B tested. A better solution would have been to add an update to the top of the articles which gives the visitor a current best practice or points them to a new, relevant article.

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Tags: optimization

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