Aligning Single Page Apps with an Optimized Customer Experience

By Paul Bernier

July 7, 2017


I recently attended the 2017 Click Summit conference produced by Brooks Bell. It was a fantastic event where A/B testing and optimization experts came together to learn, share and connect. I was able to participate in four different panel discussions to engage and hear from the A/B testing community.​ Two themes grabbed my attention: Single Page Apps and the Build vs Buy paradox. In this two-part series, I will explore both of these topics and discuss how they impact the customer experience through A/B testing and optimization. Let’s start with Single Page Apps or SPAs.

How are Single Page Apps Impacting your Optimization Program?

Or more specifically, how are SPA and other new platform technologies like React affecting traditional client-side A/B testing programs? That’s a big question that many organizations are either knee deep into, or contemplating from a distance. While the terms SPA, Angular and React resonate with developers, the concept remains a black box to many marketers and business stakeholders.

What is a Single Page App? In a nutshell, it’s a website that tries to act like a mobile app. It relies heavily on caching in the browser to create an experience typically associated with applications that are installed on a user’s device or computer. For the A/B testing community, the decision to transition to SPA is typically driven by the technical side of the organization and does not always factor the business impact for end users. Key takeaways are:

  • All tag based tools are impacted by a transition to SPA, including tag management, analytics and A/B testing.
  • On the web analytics side, fundamental concepts like sessions and page views have to be redefined in order to align with the new SPA reality. Make sure to re-assess how the entire customer journey is impacted by this shift, and define a strategy to to track each engagement and conversion step in this new paradigm. Ignoring this step could lead to a web analytics black hole!
  • Tests need to be built in a way that integrates with your SPA. Many tag-based tools face limitations in the SPA world and increase the reliance on development resources for testing.
  • Rolling out of SPAs often neglects end users’ impact on business KPIs. Testing how your SPA is impacting conversions compared to your traditional site is key to ensure you don’t inadvertently make it more difficult for users to reach their online goals.
  • Page load time for new vs. returning users is vastly impacted by an SPA experience. New users take a big hit up front, while returning users enjoy a faster experience. Think about how this impacts your users and your business model.

Many organizations find themselves turning to server side A/B testing or backend A/B testing in the face of these challenges. While I highly value server side A/B testing to answer business questions and recognize it as source of high return on investment for SiteSpect customers, it’s not the only answer to crack the SPA nut! A complete shift to server side A/B testing relies entirely on already taxed dev resources and limits your A/B testing velocity to the pace of your code release cycle.

So what’s the alternative? A healthy balance of client-side A/B testing and server side A/B testing under one unified platform, empowering business and technical users alike. That way you’ll be able to transition to the SPA world without skipping a beat and increase your testing velocity.

To learn more about SiteSpect, visit our website.

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Paul Bernier

Paul Bernier

Paul Bernier is Vice President of Product Management at SiteSpect. He has a background in website optimization, recommendations, and development, as well as web analytics. He is based in Boston.

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