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on 6 September 2012
Please note - this is a Revised Review (see my note below).

Short review:

If you're unfamiliar with this type of material then you will learn something. It's a good starting point on how to run quality, meaningful experiments on your website(s).

My recommendation: Buy it if you're new to this field. It's a useful (short) introduction. It's also useful if you need to strengthen your case for 'proper' experimentation in your team or organisation.

Longer review:

When I read the title of this book, I pre-ordered it immediately. Considering what I do (digital marketing) the book synopsis sounded great. And I've waited, what seems like, an age for the book to be published.

You can imagine my delight when the mighty Amazon informed me that the Kindle ebook was ready for download! I couldn't wait to start reading it and absorbing the content.

This didn't take long. Absorbing that is.

I think I misunderstood the aim of this book. I *thought* it was a 'How to Guide' to Website Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).

It is. And it isn't.

It's actually MORE about how you run effective experiments including A/B and Multivariate tests. Obviously, these topics are intertwined. But the book wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

The book is short. I think it's about 157 or so pages (including introductions, index etc). You don't, therefore, get a huge amount of material. Material that is, as I see it, flimsy and less than useful. Indeed, on many of the topics covered (A/B Testing, Multivariate Testing, Google Website Optimizer and so on) I've read much more in-depth blog posts.

Now, I know the book isn't a 'How to Guide' for individual testing tools. For me, at least, I thought the book oscillated too much between topics as diverse as UX Design to 'Bravery and Responsibility'. And, whilst I acknowledge it's not meant as 'a bible', nothing is covered in sufficient depth. Nothing is explained in enough detail and - if you have any experience in this field - nothing is said that adds huge value.

In essence, I scanned through this 'book' (it feels like a rather long essay) and, unusually for me, highlighted nothing and took no notes. Which is a real shame because the newly emerging field of CRO needs more solid resources for people to use. Unfortunately, whilst this book will be a great starting point for many, it left me disappointed.

Finally, I'd suggest you'll still need other books to complete your CRO Library e.g. Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer by Bryan Eisenberg and John Quarto-vonTivadar.

Why I Revised My Review:

My initial of this review was more critical. However, via LinkedIn and for various reasons, I'd made contact with the Author (Colin McFarland).

He took considerable time to respond to my input, here on, and made several valuable comments. I greatly respect and appreciate his engagement with his readers. I now feel clearer about the purpose of the book and have, therefore, tried to clarify my review of it.

Nevertheless, I still feel the book was too short and didn't provide enough (for me at least) substantial material or alternative perspectives. Hence my 3-star rating.

Sorry Colin!
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on 4 October 2012
Having read Colin's book, my conclusion should in no way be a surprise. This book isn't the most in-depth book on conversion optimization, and A/B and Multivariate testing, but it is one of the most effective books for you to read. Like the book itself, straight to the point and without too much of that pink fluff and silver lining, Colin's approach is head on.

Like Colin said in the book, don't test the water, just dive right in. If you can't swim in the sense that you are new to conversion rate optimization with A/B and Multivariate testing, don't worry, consider this book to be your life vest that will help you keep your head above water.

For you more experienced types... use this book as a refresher course. If you think you are going to learn more than you know now from a 168 page book.... then you are wrong, use this book as a easy reference to bring along or buy it for a stakeholder who wonders what you do all day long.

Thanks Colin!
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on 25 October 2012
(CRO is Conversion Rate Optimisation/Optimiser)

Firstly I should mention a little about my background to provide context. I've been optimising websites for over 5 years and have come across many of the issues and opportunities presented in the book so I've based my review both as an optimiser myself and to give novices a view too.

From a fellow optimisers point of view, the book didn't throw up any surprises and is quite thorough despite the relative size of the book which is a surprise since it could have easily been ten times as large! I think if you're someone deeply ingrained into testing then as a previous reviewer stated I don't expect you to learn a great deal new. If you do then great however I would certainly say the target market is aimed at those that are just beginning the journey or are progressing.

There are some good references made to external sources and I would certainly recommend this book as a valuable insight for those just starting or progressing however if you haven't yet started the journey, I think you could end up getting lost in detail since some of the concepts need practical application to fully understand them.

Another key point for me was reference to behavioural and psychological studies which for me underpin many aspects of testing. I would definitely recommend reading up some of these books as well since they're lightly covered in Colin's book but are very relevant references, answering many of the 'whys' and enabling you to think more laterally.

Overall the book is a great effort and it was made easier for me being in ebook format to read on the train.

Why 4 stars? Well I think it just comes down to relevancy for me and I don't believe I'm the target market however the other 4 stars mean if you're looking to make quick progress with website testing and optimisation then you could do a lot worse than buy this book. Colin is well versed in his experience with the tools and methodologies but also as a practitioner working with a big UK retail business. This is important as much of this will be based on practical experience and not just theory.
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on 17 May 2016
Great little book:
Fits in pocket or hand bag, take it to meetings with new clients.
Read on the tube or just before bed, short chapters and easily absorbed points.
Good "refresher" for the knowledgeable or for ideas about how to explain some key concepts to others.
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on 17 September 2012
Disclaimer: I'm CEO of the company that makes Visual Website Optimizer, an A/B testing tool which (among other tools) is mentioned in the book.

This book is an excellent introduction to the world of A/B testing and conversion rate optimization. Meant for marketing managers, product managers, business owners and people who are responsible for generating revenue from their websites, the book handholds a begineer in this field and gently introduces various concepts, tips, tricks and techniques. What I really like about the book is that it emphasizes practical knowledge over theoretical knowledge, so you can be up and running with your first A/B tests in no time. Though I wish the book was somewhat more comprehensive, but remember this is a first edition of a book on a topic that is seldom written about.
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on 9 September 2012
This a brilliant guide to designing experiments, the author takes you through creating a plan, consider your approach, choosing the right method and getting experimenting as quickly and often as possible.

This is the only book on the topic that that covers both the pros and cons of using A/B testing and offers practical advice to avoid the common mistakes people make running tests and interrupting results. It's also the only book that tackles the implications for UX and design and the chapter on ideas is a new perspective rather than list of ideas you'll be used to reading.

Don't let the small size fool you. The depth in this book really sets it apart, the author elegantly covers in a page what other books spend chapters on and that leaves plenty of time for refreshing new ideas to be explored.
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on 24 February 2014
Slightly disappointed! Like the other reviews this book isn't the most in-depth book on conversion optimization, A/B and Multivariate testing,

I would say it’s a good starting point on how to run quality, meaningful experiments but contains no extra content other than what you would find yourself on the Internet!

Therefore I would not recommend it, save your money!
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