Congratulations on taking the initiative to A/B split test your website.
You’re now part of an exclusive club of website owners that know the secret to improving their website is hidden in this scientific technique.
But before you go ahead and setup that first test, can we recommend something?
Backup your website!
Split testing is a great way to improve your site, but as a product of this process it means that you’ll likely be making some pretty impressive changes to your site based on the data.
To save yourself any hair pulling or worse, tears, having a backup of your site means you will be able to reach back into the past and grab any data from old variations that you might have deleted after your split test.
Why does split testing mean you could lose data you ask? Great question…
Split testing means you delete your old page
Running a split test means there’s a chance that you will be making changes to your website based on the results of your test.
When you’re using Simple Page Tester, and you select “Make Winner” on one of your variations after running your test, our plugin deletes the under performing page.
The reason why it deletes the old page is that once you have complete your test the winning page should completely take over the role of the primary page which it can’t do if the old page is still in the system.
If you don’t have a backup, this old page is basically lost along with anything that was contained within it.
Backing up your site regularly is good practice
While it’s rare that you’ll actually want to keep anything that was in that under performing page variation there is always a case for keeping a copy of it around.
To do that we recommend performing a complete file and database backup of your website prior to starting your split test.
Technically speaking you could probably get away with just a database backup, but to be sure we recommend backing up everything in case you make page template changes in your theme as part of the split test.
When it comes to backups, it’s better safe than sorry after all.
So how do you take a backup of your website?
There’s many ways you can create a backup of your website in WordPress.
The simplest solution is to export a copy of your database using something like phpMyAdmin (found on most hosts that provide cPanel and Plesk access) and use an FTP program like FileZilla to transfer a copy of all the files under your /public_html directory down to your computer (note this could take a while depending on the size of your site).
Personally I like to be a little smarter about my backups and that’s where the following tool comes in.
We run an automated backup system on all of our web properties and we do it with a brilliant WordPress plugin called BackupBuddy which lets us setup automated schedules and transfer a copy of that backup archive to our favourite online storage solution.
We use it with Amazon S3 which is a cloud storage service provided by the Amazon network and we just pay a little each month for using the diskspace.
Amazon S3 can be a bit crazy to setup (though, BackupBuddy makes it seems quite simple) so if you’re a novice you can also use things like Dropbox which is orders of magnitude easier to setup, but costs a little more for large amounts of disk space (though you can get around 4GB free by referring a few friends to their service).
Once you have sorted out your storage solution (whether it’s Amazon S3 or Dropbox or some other service) you can setup an automated schedule to backup your website using the BackupBuddy plugin.
We do ours nightly but some of our sites we have on a weekly schedule. I don’t recommend any further apart than that even if the changes in-between are minor.
Where to get BackupBuddy
If you are interested in backing up your website with BackupBuddy we definitely recommend checking it out.