Do you know about Google’s Website Optimizer? It’s a free tool that allows you to test how different versions of the same web page perform. The Chronicle of Philanthropy published a brief article (subscription required) describing how the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program used Website Optimizer to determine which of three versions of a web page was most effective in persuading people to sign up for information. Arcadia Campaigns’ Matt Howes, writing on Care2’s Frogloop blog, described the testing process:
To use [Google Optimizer], you create a web page and variations of that page that you’d like to test (for example, you might want to test if people respond better to a picture of a polar bear or a happy child on your donation page). You then set up an "experiment" on Google Optimizer where you tell it what the test pages are and what the conversion page is (such as the "thank you" page if you’re testing your donation process).
If this sounds intriguing, check out the detailed instructions posted on the Wild Apricot blog and read Matt Howes’ description of some of the pitfalls you might encounter (such as testing 41 shades of blue) and tips on how to avoid them.
Go forth and test!