Testing is a multidisciplinary process that draws on the skills and expertise of designers, developers, analysts, marketing managers, and many others. When it comes to ideation, each one of these different groups will have their own perspectives and interests that influence test ideas. And each group will have their own resources and needs they can contribute to or require for testing.
So who owns the testing process?
If a company doesn’t have a dedicated testing team, the task usually falls to the marketing department. Since marketing is focused on brand strategy, communications with customers and sales, it makes sense for testing to fall under their purview.
Because marketing typically works with copywriters and designers for creating ads and other collateral, this department should be able to contribute some of these resources to testing. Where marketing departments might find themselves lacking is in development and IT support. Depending on the department’s strategic orientation, skilled analysts capable of drawing insights from test data may also be in short supply.
Product and Merchandising
Consumer testing has long been an important part of product development and merchandising—from early stage focus groups to coupon tracking and promotional campaigns. For some organizations, this is an obvious reason to place website testing under this department’s jurisdiction—especially in a retail setting.
Merchandising managers may bring testing experience and an experimental mindset to a program—which is a good thing—and also have the opportunity to leverage ongoing campaigns to generate testing ideas. Website testing, however, is a very different process and this similar experience may actually obscure this fact. In addition, development, design and copywriting resources may be limited for merchandising managers.
IT and Development
Implementing the testing platform will likely fall on IT departments and experienced developers. Depending on the tool, actual test setup might be relatively straightforward allowing non-developers to handle management—but almost any tool requires complex development for advanced variations.
This means that IT and developers make great owners of testing programs—especially when testing will focus on login forms, shopping carts, checkout flows and other technology intensive site elements. Unfortunately, developers may not have direct access to copywriters or designers and may not have a clear vision of ongoing marketing strategies or merchandising campaigns.
All of these groups have something to offer testing, but the ultimate solution is an autonomous, multi-disciplinary team that focuses on and specializes in testing. At the least, this team should include one of each of the following:
- Testing Manager: An experienced strategist capable of translating stakeholder KPIs into meaningful tests.
- Analyst: Expert analysts that can build campaigns, advise strategy, and tease true insights from results.
- Developer: A dedicated team of optimization engineers that have—or can develop—the experience to quickly build test variations, is essential for achieving the velocity you need.
- Designer: A designer with experience in UX, graphic and digital design can develop concepts. But he or she can also contribute to test strategy and ideation, too.
- Project Manager: Testing projects are complex and a manager helps to keep programs on track. Project Managers can also oversee the quality assurance review process, which leads to fewer broken tests.
An autonomous team that is not tied to the KPIs of any single business group has another advantage: They can evaluate testing ideas based on their potential impact and viability.
Obviously, not every organization has the luxury of creating a dedicated testing team—especially when a program is just beginning—but knowing the strengths and weaknesses of various stakeholders is important to ensure your program continues to develop and grow with each test.
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