Website and product testing is done by any company that is user-centric. Visitors can be part of those tests to help a company deliver a better user experience. However, not all website testing needs to be shady and oozing creepiness.
When companies fail to obtain valid informed concent and lie to a subset of users just because they feel like they can, the tests they perform will harm all businesses, including the ones that try to perform responsible A/B testing.
OkCupid’s founder Christian Rudder recently said:
Guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.
Sounds like he knows what he’s talking about — except he’s WRONG.
Some companies actually perform tests responsibly — informing users and protecting their brand image by not putting the user experience at risk.
OkCupid is the latest company to not only admit to A/B testing, but even arrogantly proclaim that, at least in one experiment, it outright lied to its visitors — in the name of better UE.
Well, not all companies pursue better websites by disrespecting their visitors with such irresponsible testing methods.
Some are responsible and clearly provide opt-in or opt-out options so that visitors can choose to support and participate in such tests.
Many actually care about what they test too — testing features that legitimately can be called product “features”. They don’t test negative experiences just because they can.
So when a company tries to tell us that their type of irresponsible website testing is normal, they merely expose how little respect they have for us. It’s not how good brands are built.
It’s not how good websites work.
Maybe some companies should be testing respect rather than arrogance.