Sometimes, having too much choice leaves you paralyzed. This is especially true if you work in optimization. Website stakeholders from all over your company are generating lots of test ideas because they know that testing live traffic yields powerful results. They’ve also heard the buzz that you and your optimization team have proven that you can run more tests in less time.
It’s great to have all these ideas, but how do you filter the demands and separate the high-priority tests from those that can wait? Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by this challenge. Use these recognized strategies for getting your priorities straight.
Basic Prioritization Strategies
Avinash Kaushik, author of “Web Analytics 2.0,” notes that you should work on the money-makers first. On his website, Occam's Razor, Kaushik says that “To have a direct impact faster, lower the bounce rate and reduce acquisition cost.” He cautions against obsessing about every change, but instead suggests that you focus on increasing profitability.
Rich Page offers a similar suggestion and takes it a step further. In his book, "Web Optimization: An Hour a Day," Page advises you to organize your list of test ideas and rate them in terms of both the likely conversion lift value and the difficulty of implementation (also known as LoE: Level of Effort). “The test ratings will be essential for helping you and your senior executives prioritize the order of your upcoming tests,” says Page.
The Action Priority Matrix
A diagramming technique called the Action Priority Matrix adds another dimension to the basic strategy and maps it on a grid. According to TimeAnalyzer, the principle behind using this technique is that you score each activity you want to complete on two scales: first on the impact the activity will have (the y-axis) and second on the effort involved (the x-axis). Plotting each activity on the Action Priority Matrix lets you see the projects that give the greatest return on your effort and helps you adopt the most effective approach for that activity:
Table 1: Action Priority Matrix, Source: TimeAnalyzer.com
To use the Action Priority Matrix, TimeAnalyzer suggests that you:
Prioritization Based on Importance
Another matrix that helps you make tough decisions objectively is explained in the guide Project Prioritization: A Structured Approach to Working on What Matters Most (PDF) by the Office of Quality Improvement at University of Wisconsin, Madison.
This matrix helps prioritize complex or unclear issues when there are multiple criteria for determining importance. The benefit of the matrix is that it provides a consistent method for evaluating options and takes some of the emotion out of the process by quantifying the decision with numeric rankings. This approach appeals to analytical leaders who value a data-driven approach to decision making.
The guide outlines five steps for creating a prioritization matrix based on importance:
Table 2: Prioritization Matrix, Source: “Project Prioritization: A Structured Approach to Working on What Matters Most" (PDF), Office of Quality Improvement at University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Whatever strategy you choose, always consult with peers, colleagues, and stakeholders before deciding what tests to run. Taking an ad-hoc or shotgun approach before researching strategic plans and requirements may undermine your credibility.
Are you undaunted by the deluge of test requests? Share your prioritization techniques below!