Make Mistakes While Noone is Watching
A website test can often involve a lot of people, IT staff, Designers, Content Owners, etc. While the technicals are fairly straight-forward, the process involved to get everyone working together can be really hard. And people *will* make mistakes.
Are you going to wait to make those mistakes while everyone is focused on you for that massive Home Page test that you just barely got approval to run after months of trying ??
Why not make those mistakes before anyone cares?
Start with a test page. Have your designer create alternate content for it, your IT staff put in the code, etc. This gives you an opportunity to talk to everyone about what you’re doing and where you’re going and why it is in their best interest to get the kinks worked out beforehand. It’s not a real page on the site so if the code is put in wrong, it’s no big deal — noone cares.
Move on to an actual page on the website that is not important to anyone. This is a slightly bigger deal than the test page, but if you screw it up, noone will probably notice. Just test something minor that noone will notice. Decide on a conversion page and look at real data. Try presenting the results.
This practice is beneficial to everyone involved, so that when the real test comes around, you’ve already made your mistakes, and hopefully, worked them out. Remember that the point of the practice is to work out the process and make sure everyone looks good when it is time to do the real first test.