Visual Website Optimizer: How it Compares to The Rivals

Last updated By | 21 Comments

VWO screenshot
Using an A/B testing tool is one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your website sales and leads (without having to buy more traffic!)

To help you understand the different tool options available to you, I have created a guide that compares the three leading tool choices: Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely, and Google Content Experiments (previously called Google Website Optimizer).

All of them have their advantages and disadvantages (particularly Google Content Experiments), so I have created a grid comparing Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) with its major rivals, including pricing and functionality. I’ve included some ratings for each feature, and a total score too.

Let’s get started with the ratings (which I officially updated Jan 15th 2015):

Google Content Experiments vwo logo small
Cost Free. Plans start at $9 per month for ‘personal’ level (2,000 visitors). Free for starter level (50,000 visitors but one project only).
Test creation options 5/10 Basic wizard setup, no visual or code editor. 9/10 Advanced test creation options, accessible for all levels. 8/10 Advanced creation, but multi-page and multi-channel test only for enterprise.
Ease to add test code 7/10 Simple, but several page tags needed. 9/10 Very simple – only single code line needed. 9/10 Very simple – only single code line needed.
Multivariate test options 0/10 None. 8/10 Many options available at all levels. 9/10 Available for both free and enterprise level.
Targeting ability for tests (new visitors etc)
0/10 None. 8/10 Good targeting behavioral options for all levels, with basic ability to build custom ones. 8/10 Advanced behavioral targeting options, but only standard ones in free level.
Conversion goals & success metrics 9/10 Very good – can use Google Analytics goals as conversion goals. 8/10 Great – good selection of goals and metrics, including revenue. 8/10 Great – good selection of goals and metrics, including revenue.
Test reporting and segmenting 7/10 Average reporting, but ability to analyze Google Analytics segments. 8/10 Newly improved. Better reporting and added ability to segment results. 7/10 Basic reporting with free level, advanced reports included in enterprise level.
Overall comments Promising, but step back from Google Website Optimizer (new features coming soon). Great tool & includes good usability basic tool to gain test ideas from your visitors & testing experts. Definitely more of the ‘expert’ tool, but is more expensive for the premium features.
Overall rating 5/10 Very lacking, needs key features. 9/10 Has slight edge over Optimizely for beginner A/B testers. 9/10 Better features for testing pros – although it charges more for them.


As you can see, Google Content Experiments is seriously lacking in functionality, so I’m now going to focus on the differences between Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely.

Visual Website Optimizer Overview

In May 2014 they performed a major overhaul on their interface and launched new features like test report segmentation and support for app testing (and check out this great guide on the improvements). Here are some pros and cons that should be noted:


  • Includes other testing related basic tools like heat maps and visitor surveying.
  • Intuitive new user interface with great test design wizard to help you.
  • Excellent ‘idea factory’ helps you create better test ideas (by type/element etc).
  • All features included in monthly cost – no adding fees for greater functionality.


  • No built-in multi-page testing functionality (across navigation/check-out etc).
  • Offer fewer real-time support options in comparison to Optimizely.
  • Has no free limited version, unlike Optimizely’s recent change in pricing.

Try the tool for yourself: Get a free 30 day trial of Visual Website Optimizer

Free Visual Website Optimizer Bonus Guide!
Learn 10 secrets of the Visual Website Optimizer tool to ensure you get much better results from your A/B tests. Grab your free bonus VWO secrets guide now!

Optimizely Overview

Optimizely has also grown leaps and bounds recently as an outstanding A/B testing tool. Here are the notable pros and cons of the tool:


  • More of the ‘premium’ tool in comparison to Visual Website Optimizer.
  • Competes well with Adobe Target and other enterprise level testing tools.
  • Offers more options for running behavioral targeting tests (enteprise level only).
  • Better integrated options for experts, including options for multi-page testing.
  • Offers extensive community and academy for getting the most from the tool.


  • Has the cheaper basic service level, but charges more for functionality like MVT.
  • The free version comes with little support – just through their community and FAQ.
  • Set-up test wizard a bit too simple – doesn’t highlight key test functionality well.

Try it for yourself though: Get a free 30 day trial of Optimizely

Which is better? Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely? 

Really it’s kind of like a Pepsi Vs Coke thing – many experts will only use their favorite,with many casual users not really noting the key differences.

To help you make up your mind, here are my expert two-cents about both tools:

  • Visual Website is better for beginner and casual testers, with extra built-in (but basic) tools like heatmaps and visitor surveying.
  • Optimizely offers better options for advanced testers, but charges a premium for features like MVT testing. Also offers a free basic level.

Overall, Visual Website Optimizer has the slight edge for casual A/B testers, with extras like heatmaps, but its more expensive than the free version of Optimizely. For serious A/B testers, I definitely recommend the Optimizely enterprise level – more comprehensive offering, even though you have to pay much more for it.

Ultimately I suggest you try a free trial for both of the tools and see which one you are most comfortable using and meets your needs better.

Extra reading: If you want to get better results from using either of these testing tools, don’t forget to read my essential user guide for testing tool success!

Bottom Line for Google Content Experiments Users

It’s time to start using a better testing tool! Even though it was a great idea by Google to integrate it into Google Analytics, it’s unfortunately taken one step forward but two steps back. While it offers improved conversion goal reporting, you can’t even do multivariate testing in it yet.

So unless they greatly beef it up soon (which there is already talk of), the free version of Optimizely is much better if you are looking to do A/B testing with no cost initially.

Wrapping Up

That’s my expert two cents. Now over to you the readers – what is your favorite A/B testing tool, and why? Please comment below!

Like this article? Please share it using these icons below... thanks!

Get free access to my 6 guides and discounts for quickly lifting your website sales or leads.
Also includes blog updates and we won't spam you!
  • PPC Campaign Generator

    Why would Google make a worse product than they previously had available to users?  In other words, why would they discontinue Website Optimizer and roll it into Google Analytics with fewer features making it less useful?  Can someone please address this?

  • Niels Tybjerg

    Thanks for the comparision – I agree in your thoughts about VWO and Optimizely but haven’t checked out Content Experiments yet. 

    But do you have any insight into how the different testing tools affect load speed? A few times we’ve experienced troubles in this area with Optimizely.   

  • Blair Keen

    Good post Rich. 

    Also recommend this resource to people:

    It’s a site created by the team at Conversion Rate Experts which covers pretty much every testing tool there is!

  • Blair Keen

    Good post Rich. 

    Also recommend this resource to people:

    It’s a site created by the team at Conversion Rate Experts which covers pretty much every testing tool there is!

  • Rich Page

    Good question! First of all, it wasn’t making them any money directly, and didn’t have good ties with Adwords like Analytics does to make it worthwhile. In terms of lack of features, I know this is just the first release – they just wanted to get the concept right, and will add key features soon, hopefully MVT. Keep your eyes peeled…

  • Sisse Marianne Bertelsen

    I have to say that I love Optimizely. It’s just so easy to use, and they are really helpful when you’re not good with code. (I should start charging them for all my recommendations.)

  • Tim Robinson

    Hi Rich, 

    You missed ZenTester. Super easy to use, has most of the features of the others and can be used for free too (definitely low cost ;)). 

    Regards, Tim

  • Pingback: Web Analytics Tools Not Named Google | Teach to Fish Digital

  • Hedvig

    thanks Blair for sharing this extended test, helped me to decide

  • Mark Hall

    Thanks for the comparo, Rich – nice quick synopsis for a newer CRO guy like me. Now I know which tools to explore in more detail.

  • martijn

    Hi, my name is Martijn and I work at Optimizely. Check out this article:

  • Peep Laja

    Rich, this comparison is not accurate in many aspects. Optimizely built-in segmentation rules. Its targeting options are phenomenal. Optimizely has multi-page experiments that VWO doesn’t. You don’t mention support – Optimizely has phone support in the US and Europe, cover a wide range of timezones. VWO support is only India time, over email.

    And – try comparing VWO heatmaps to any dedicated heatmap tool such as Clicktale, Crazyegg etc – numbers don’t match, at all.

  • Rich Page

    Hi Peep – thanks for your comments. At the time of initially writing this over a year ago, the targeting aspects of Optimizely weren’t very apparent or as good as they are now. I will certainly be investigating their targeting options in more depth, and clarifying that in the matrix.

    In terms of support, yes, that is very valid (even though some testers rarely use support depending on what they are testing). I will add a support section on the matrix to help readers understand those differences.

    And totally agree with your point about VWOs built-in heatmaps and visitors feedback tools, they certainly don’t compare to using more robust specific tools like you mentioned.

    I am going to be adding more sections to this comparison very soon to make it even more comprehensive and up to date. Please feel free to email me or reply with other feedback about these tools. Thanks!

  • Paras Chopra

    Hi Peep,

    Thanks for your comment. Regarding support, you’re not accurate. We’re giving 24×7 support and our support is phenomenal. I suggest you check out tweets and testimonials such as: and

    Just because we’re based out of India doesn’t mean we don’t provide support. Moreover, we do provide phone support if an issue isn’t able to get resolved over email.

    Moreover, VWO has 15 segmentation and targeting options including geo, referral, browser and many other options. Here’s the full list:

    Yes, VWO heatmap options doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that are in dedicated tools but the tight integration of heatmaps with A/B tests more than compensates for it. Moreover, VWO has options such as “consolidated heatmaps” that even dedicated tools don’t have. Consolidated heatmaps allows you to generate heatmap by aggregating clicks over multiple pages that share same layout. It’s very useful for eCommerce sites that have same layout for product pages.

  • Peep Laja

    What I meant by segmentation was analyzing test results across segments. How did the test perform for one segment or another.

    I had poor customer experience with you myself, what can be more accurate than first-hand experience? Especially with very slow response times. I complained several times and I only heard back defensive rhetoric (“other people like our support!”) like now. You can’t invalidate my own personal experience saying “no our support was good”. It was not.

    I’m glad that your support is now 24/7, that will be of great help.

  • Paras Chopra

    Yep, agreed, you can’t invalidate personal experience. You did have a poor experience but I recommend you to try once again. We’ve been constantly improving and support is a big priority for us.

  • Bruno Hug

    I think you’re wrong, Google content experiment allows multivariate test. It’s just not accessible in analytics, you have to add code on the page.

  • Wesley van der Hoop

    Sadly, I have the same experience. Of the three e-mail conversations I had, two were not supportive at all. Long response time, the answers not solution oriented etc.

    I asked them not to bill me, they did it anyway (thank god the transfer was blocked). Then I reminded them I did not want to get billed. No response. Two days later they send me a reminder that my bill is still open!

    I honestly don’t know why I am still using VWO.

  • Taruna

    Hi there,
    I am Taruna, marketer at Visual Website Optimizer. I am really sorry about the bad experience you had with our support and billing. Please let me know your VWO Account Id at so that I can get this sorted at the earliest.

  • Darren DeMatas

    Good stuff, Rich! Thanks for updating the comparison chart.

  • vladmalik

    I would say the opposite. We’ve used both and we found Optimizely to be the more basic tool. VWO is more customizable, reports are more detailed, and you can download all data. We’ve found Optimizely a bit limiting.