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Server-Side Testing: 5 Front End Experiment Examples to Follow

A/B testing is a popular strategy used by digital marketers, product managers, and user experience designers for growth.  

It enables you to determine the winning variations of your webpages on various digital properties. It also helps you to optimize user experiences and conversion funnels based on consumer insights.

In this article, we will understand server-side testing and why you should do server-side A/B testing. We will also see some examples to understand the concept better. 

What is a Server-Side Testing?

Server-side testing is a form of A/B testing where the variations of a test are directly rendered from the webserver. Direct implementation on the server helps you to run those tests as well that may otherwise impact user experience if implemented on the client-side. 

In client-side testing, the A/B test is rendered through JavaScript once the page is delivered to the user’s browser.

However, server-side testing is the best option for those who want to run complex tests to know how a product works.

Why Should You Do Server-Side Testing?

Server-side testing helps you to test headlines and button colors on your website. It also helps you to test other algorithms, such as architectures and database query result sets.

Here are some of the top reasons why you should use server-side testing:

1. Omni-Channel Optimization of Customer Journeys

Server-side A/B testing allows you to implement your optimizations across all the channels used by your customers. You can deploy your experiments in environments that are not web-based for example, native mobile applications on tablets or smartphones. Server-side testing works in several environments and runs multi-page tests regardless of the domain visited. It allows you to implement your optimizations across all the channels used by your customers.

2. Agile Product Management

Server-side A/B testing calculation allows you to leverage full-stack experimentation to run advanced tests, which may require complex data modeling to decode, but the rewards are worth it. This way, you can generate ideas to fine-tune your product user experience, incrementally, over time. Server-side testing allows you to better understand how people interface with your product features and deliver improved features. 

3. Reduced Risk

With server-side testing, you can test product features, measure their performance, make changes and refinements to deliver them in stages. Thus, it helps in mitigating risk by gaining knowledge from conclusive tests, allowing you to produce more definitive results. 

4. Circumventing the Flicker Effect

The ‘flicker effect’ is a side effect of running a client-side A/B test in which the content of a page appears for a moment before the variation loads. This effect has a negative impact on the user experience and leads to a change in the derived test results from the actual ones. However, server-side testing is immune to the flicker effect and other performance-related downsides of the client-side. Thus, server-side testing leads to more accurate results. 

5. Seamless Product Delivery

Server-side testing facilitates continuous integration and continuous deployment in software development. Feature toggling helps integrate small codes to the main software branch and slowly deploy them for the audience in various stages. 

Thus, server-side testing results in development, delivery, and improvement in speed by testing product features in production and making modifications.

Examples of Server-Side Front End Experiments

Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines usually test new algorithms for a search to optimize the user experience. Also, there is no flashing with server-side testing because the changes are implemented on the webserver before they are delivered to the client.

Similarly, online media outlets often have paywalls on their websites. It is not impossible to place a paywall client-side, however, as users can easily delete their cookies or browsing history. A trustworthy solution is to use server-side testing to manage trigger rules. This allows you to safely test the impact of different paywall configurations on your subscription rate.

Here are some examples that show the power of server-side tests:

  • AlloVoisins, a French online platform for exchanging services, offered a free version of their product. However, they faced problems in deciding the point when they could start charging for their services. Later, using server-side testing, they ran a one-month test to know the optimal number of free ads they could post before switching to the paid version. This allowed them to continue offering a free service to attract new customers. 

  • Twilio, a cloud-based communications platform experimented with its features before making them live and targeted them to different user segments to get insights to build better products. They built the infrastructure, including a cloud data warehouse, a data visualization tool, a data analytics tool, and a dashboard to report the collected data, to run experiments at scale. They also adopted a targeting engine to seamlessly integrate with their tech stack and dashboard.

  • Netflix provides a great streaming experience. This is the result of relentless testing and experimentation. At one point, Netflix Canada ran some experiments with its ‘free trial’ duration, serving up four variations of the free trial feature with 0, 7, 14, and 30 days. After a few months of the experiment, the winning variation was declared to be the first one, where registrants were asked to pay from the very beginning.

The use of server-side testing for running tests on search algorithms on a website is a straightforward option. Any testing with your search engine should go through a server-side approach. The testing should include the number of products viewed, the rate at which products are added to the cart, the transaction rate, and the average order value.

Final Thoughts

With server-side testing, you can optimize complex mobile app pages or product features to improve conversions. To optimize your products, website, and digital touchpoints and to create a seamless user experience, use deep testing in your marketing. Use the above server-side testing guide to start your experiment roadmap to deliver delightful experiences and build future-ready products.

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