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Without a doubt, sparks flew at SPUR Urban Center in downtown San Francisco Wednesday night when we hosted our first ever Meetup event, A/B Testing: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How? The crowd heard from three seasoned optimization advocates, David Malpass from Prezi, Lizzie Allen from IGN, and Melinda Byerley from Poll Everywhere.

With a development team far across the Atlantic in Budapest, David Malpass has limited technical resources to work with in Prezi’s San Francisco office dedicated to improving the website. However, that definitely hasn’t hindered him from establishing a deep testing culture at Prezi, a presentation SaaS company, where they test everything possible. At the Meetup, he drove home the idea that engineering is not the only department that benefits from developers; marketing teams can harness their super-powers too, for advanced A/B testing and site improvements. He emphasized the importance of testing the pricing page. When he ran a test comparing the performance of monthly or yearly payment plans, monthly won by a long shot and drastically improved Prezi’s bottom line.

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David’s motto: Always be testing.

Lizzie Allen spoke of her travels down a long, arduous road filled with weeks of crashing meetings she wasn’t invited to and overall hustle to cultivate a testing culture at IGN, a prolific gaming information website. As a data analyst, Lizzie said she would always come prepared to meetings with data evidence to support her points and question faith-based marketing. “Why are we doing that?” she frequently asked decision makers about the site in order to promote data driven decision-making. The story of challenges, successes and occasional failures ends on a positive note for IGN as testing with Optimizely has now permeated through the company culture. Lizzie overhears people saying, “let’s test that” in the hallways.

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Lizzie’s motto: Question assumptions and instinct.

When jumping right into A/B testing, don’t start with the homepage, Melinda Byerley said, as it’s the hardest place to agree on changes. The HIPPO (Highest-paid-person’s-opinion) is hard to win over on the homepage. Melinda has left a trail of testing at every company she’s worked at in the past eight years, including PayPal, eBay and most recently Poll Everywhere. To garner the most insights from A/B testing, Melinda advised using Optimizely’s traffic allocation feature, just in case a certain HIPPO is nervous about running 100% of traffic through any variation.

Melinda’s motto: Be bold. Start big.