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An associate was unable to follow a set of basic instructions I made for using a common website. It turned out my user was on some A/B test and was served a different UI. When I checked the same site from another account, I see the standard version of the site, and I can see why my colleague was unable to follow my instructions - part of the page I see doesn't exist for them!

Question

When using a site/app to create instructions/guides for others, I want to ensure I am seeing the 'standard' version of that site.

Are there any formal, established, or 'best practice' approaches for ensuring a user receives the standard version of a site (no A/B tests)?

What I know so far

My best solutions so far are:

  • create multiple users, and compare them visually
  • write to the website and ask to be opted out of any A/B tests - they may be able to assist
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One idea, without having access to the target website's developers, is saving a local copy in a custom url and directing your testers there. It may require some tweaking if the website relies on databases, etc but could provide a controlled environment for testing.

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If it's a website you don't control, that's going to be tough. It sounds like the website's company is on the right track if they're testing additional functionality to help the user.

Unfortunately, there are many different A/B testing tools, and there isn't an easy way to set a browser to an A or B version of a page. The "B" version might only be shown to 1% of the audience, or an audience that meets special criteria that you wouldn't be able to replicate.

Your best bet in the scenario you listed would be to reload your own browser until you're fairly certain that you're on the standard version, and walk the person you're helping through steps to complete what they need to do.

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