- Statistics-backed A/B testing functions
- Built for beginners and developers
- In-platform visual editor and statistics dashboard
- Confusing pricing model
- Website load times extended with Optimizely code
- Small organizations beware
Optimizely, built by a former staffer of the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, has made a name for itself as an industry leader in the field of “experimentation” (meaning A/B testing, etc.). With its history and newest platform, Optimizely X, the company prides itself on being one of the best in the game. But even the best platforms have flaws — in this case, many flaws.
Optimizely X is a lot to take in
Optimizely X is a unified platform that can serve as a controlled environment for A/B, multivariate, full-funnel, and cross-platform personalization tests on digital content. Backed by the company’s industry-leading Stats Engine and a series of digestible and in-depth analytical visualizations documenting performance, product and web developers can coordinate with marketing teams to determine the best strategy for customized web experiences.
You can integrate the Optimizely X platform with external data warehouses and analytical systems like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and HotJar. Once these integrations are deployed, pre-existing data augments the statistical analysis with full-bodied details and results.
The tool is undoubtedly beginner-friendly in areas, via a drag and drop visual editor for websites. Plus, its integrations with mobile applications on iOS and Android and the stack of data and metrics go a long way. Collaboration, additionally, is facilitated through several collaborative features; however, Optimizely X seems to have a bias for single user editing.
Deploying snippets to set up tracking and integrate with the X dashboard on your website is relatively easy (more below), though several content management systems streamline this. WordPress plugins developed for both Optimizely X and Optimizely Classic are available, for example.
Minor functional setbacks
Keep in mind that once you inject your Optimizely snippets into your website’s backend, you run the risk of having slower load times on your website or app. This particular technical setback isn’t overly threatening; however, it isn’t isolated to just a few disgruntled users. User reviews account for this on several occasions.
Plus, the data and analytics produced in real time can freeze and glitch during periods of high traffic volume or extensive static or full-funnel testing.
User experience required
Though beginner-friendly, Optimizely X’s intuitiveness does require use experience and an understanding of the more technical aspects powering the platform. For example, day one use of the platform will be met with confusion and limited satisfaction. This can be addressed by reading the start-up tutorials and documentation on Optiverse, the company’s knowledge base.
The Optimizely Blog and the Optimizely Academy also offer decent advice and a series of tutorials and classes to acclimate new users to the X platform, respectively.
Bring in the developers
Once you get the hang of things, some components of the platform, like A/B testing programming and snippet embedding, should be left to your team’s web developers. Optimizely prides the X platform for being a solution to eliminate engineers and developers; however, the platform’s real-world use suggest a different story.
Some folks using the X platform may just be using the platform to get a granular view of the stats and results of particular testing and personalization hypotheses. Or they are trying to formulate documents covering the results of your web experiments for digestion by C-level executives. Either way, programming the tests and deploying back-end snippets in a website or mobile app requires knowledge of code–though a limited one.
Pricing is way to complex
Optimizely’s pricing is a real turn-off for us. Pricing is customized and requires a corporate consultation, and the platform has a track record of being expensive. That said, the most troublesome aspect is the pricing model.
The company offers three solutions with various tiers attached to each level. First, Optimizely X Web (the version of the platform for straight web experimentation) is available through a Standard, Business, or Enterprise option. Each tier includes what Optimizely terms as the “essentials” with premium features added per the subscription type. For example, Business and Enterprise subscribers to Optimizely X Web get access to the Rest API and developer kits. Standard subscribers don’t. The second solution is Optimizely X Full Stack. This option is the company’s fully-loaded interface and is available in two subscription tiers: Business or Enterprise. Enterprise subscribers are given more collaboration capability versus Business subscribers. Packaging Optimizely X Web and Full Stack together is the third solution. The company does a fully customized plan when a customer opts for this.
Early in 2018, Optimizely ended free-trials giving users a cursory notification via the Optiverse knowledge base.
Small organizations and competitors
Due to its expensive nature, small organizations should avoid this tool.
Competing platforms, like AB Tasty, have histories of cheaper pricing models. AB Tasty begins their pricing at $249 and above while still offering customized quotes for enterprises. VWO remains competitive with rates starting at $299 and above with personalized quotes for enterprises. And for those who aren’t sure about the financial commitment, Google Optimize can be launched for free.
What we think
Optimizely X is a fun and useful tool. A/B testing and personalization experiments are made easy with the beginner-friendly visual editor. Plus you can’t go wrong with the analytics and performance data produced with visualizations that make it easy to digest. Suffice it to say; you also don’t have to be one of the Stanford statisticians who help oversee the Stats Engine to see Optimizely X’s real potential.
But we need to be realistic when it comes to pricing. Though customized pricing plans are nice, they don’t mean anything when the price is high. Small organizations, due to this, should shy away from Optimizely and opt for a more cost-effective option. If you’re in the market for an enterprise solution like Optimizely X, your search may be over.
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