Build an effective optimization team

  • Updated
  • Optimizely Web Experimentation
  • Optimizely Web Personalization
  • Optimizely Performance Edge
  • Optimizely Feature Experimentation
  • Optimizely Full Stack (Legacy)
This article is part of The Optimization Methodology series.

The best optimization teams have a mix of hard and soft skills needed to develop advanced roadmaps for testing and personalization. The right mix helps you build your program into a center of excellence: a team that helps create a data-driven culture and affects business decisions at the broader company level. These roles can include a web analyst, marketer, program manager, developer, and UX designer.

Use this article as a resource when evaluating how to turn a strong team into a center of excellence. Evaluate your team’s current strengths and how they map to the different core stages of experience optimization. Consider which skill sets to grow and whether to acquire them by expanding your testing organization's access to internal resources, hiring more members, or working with a Solutions Partner.

See the 5 issues most testing teams want to fix for more information.

Build the right skill sets

Your team should cover the five core functions: ideation, planning, implementation, interpretation, and communication.

During ideation and planning, your team sources testing and personalization ideas from analytics data, marketing campaigns, audits of your competitor’s sites, and different parts of your organization. Plan and prioritize your tests and campaigns by creating a framework. Marketing analytics, project management, optimization, and communication skills are key in this stage.

During development, your team builds, QAs, and manages tests and campaigns. User experience, writing, design, HTML, and JavaScript skills are all valuable at this stage. Design and development resources can help reduce your team’s time to implementation so you can get experiments and campaigns up faster. Implementation can generate excitement about testing at your company, so communication skills are vital in this stage as well.

After campaigns and experiments run, you interpret your results. Statistics and analytics help you learn the implications of your data and make the right business decisions. Use communication to discuss your results and build company-wide investment in optimization.

Skill sets

Build a team with competencies in hard skills, soft skills, and Optimizely Experimentation platform skills. Specialists, team members with expertise in multiple areas, or outside agencies can cover these skill sets. 

Hard skills are specific, formal competencies that usually require training. The following is a list of hard skills for a mature optimization program:

  • HTML and CSS
  • jQuery and JavaScript
  • SEM and SEO
  • Statistics

Soft skills may not be formally taught but are often acquired through experience:

  • Project management
  • UX principles and best practices
  • Analytics
  • Communication
  • Writing
  • Basic design

Optimizely Experimentation platform skills are a mix of hard and soft skills. For example, a sense of what makes a good experiment or how to test through a redesign are soft skills. Implementing variations in Optimizely Experimentation is a hard skill. These are a few of the Optimizely Experimentation platform skills:

  • Using the Code Editor.
  • Managing user accounts.
  • Troubleshooting.
  • Integrating other platforms.
  • Prioritizing campaigns and tests.
  • Setting the right goals.
  • Making decisions about winning and losing variations.
  • Segmenting results.
  • Building audiences.
  • Managing campaigns.

Create a center of excellence

When you have a team with these skill sets, use their capabilities to create a center of excellence to impact business decisions with data. Focus on optimization to build experiments and campaigns for long-term objectives. This also lowers the effort across your program, letting you run any kind of experiment. You can find additional opportunities you might have otherwise missed.

For example, if you request an analytics report for a page's traffic and conversion rates for an experiment on the images, an analyst invested in testing can notice an unusually high bounce rate and search bar usage on this page and suggest that you test around this problem. This lets you make a bigger impact by fixing an issue affecting your customer experience.

Cross-skills collaboration makes your program more efficient, successful, and sustainable. Optimizing from a single discipline can be limiting at times. For example, if someone on your team works with SEM and SEO, they can ask a different set of questions about your site to generate more insights and ideas.

Communication skills can help build an optimization culture for your company. By communicating your program’s successes and insights, you translate the lessons from your program into data that can be applied in other parts of the organization. This helps your company better understand your customers.