How to Become the Mastermind of Multivariate Testing

I was recently introduced to a game called “Mastermind”, a game that I apparently should have been familiar with already. On sharing the revelation that I had no idea how to play, I was bombarded by a multitude of voices, each proclaiming their do’s, don’ts, strategies, tips, and tricks of the game.

Mastermind, for any other newbies out there, is a code-breaking board game for two players. The Mastermind game is played on a decoding board on which the codemaker (player one) chooses a secret sequence of four coloured pins that the codebreaker (player two) must identify using skill, strategy and testing. The codemaker places their chosen pins in to the four holes covered by the shield on the board. The codebreaker then starts at the opposite end of the board, with twelve empty rows, and begins a journey of testing, testing, testing! The aim of the game is that the codebreaker uses 4 coloured pins along each row of the board in a series of tests. After each row, the codemaker will share feedback to show whether the order and colour of any of the pins have been entered correctly.


(For more details of the game, click here).

Understanding multivariate testing:

Players: In order to explain multivariate testing within the context of Mastermind, your customer will become the codemaker (player one), you will become the codebreaker (player two), the elements on your website will be used in place of the pins and multivariate testing is your game!

How To Play: Every time a user/customer visits your website they have an expectation of what they want and what they need – these become the hidden pin pattern that you are aiming to find. Multivariate testing, just like the process we see in Mastermind, allows you to test and target different elements of your site to understand which variations perform the best. Revealing your winning formula with multivariate testing can result in higher conversion rates, improved user experience and increased revenue. You can quickly discover the best combination of page elements (banners, headlines, product images, price points etc) to ensure you are hitting those right spots and getting the most from your website visitors.

The Rules: Test, test and test again, it’s that simple! Digital & Wise will take care of all the official rules to make it hassle-free for you.

The Original: Despite spin off versions of the game, the true original Mastermind will always be the best. Digital & Wise are the UK’s original leading full service multivariate testing provider. Data driven decisions have always been at the core of everything we do. To strengthen this even more, Digital & Wise are the UK partners of the world’s only non-intrusive web optimisation solution tool, SiteSpect.

How multivariate testing differs from A/B testing:

Unlike A/B testing, multivariate testing allows you to test a number of components at once.

Basically, if we apply the A/B Testing method to Mastermind it would work by allowing us to test just one variable at a time as we moved through each row. When attempting to optimise a web page in this way it would mean making just one change on the page at a time. It would take many repeat tests to be certain that you had the winning result, and it would require a much longer board! Whereas the multivariate testing style allows you to test multiple elements together which reveal a clear picture of the pages that are best performing, and which elements on that page are the strongest.

Unlike many other board games, Mastermind is not down to chance! It all comes down to data, skill, strategy, analytics, and lots of testing – just like MVT.”


With four pegs and a choice of six different colours, there are ultimately a staggering 1,296 different patterns that can be made. However, by using algorithms, the codebreaker can often solve the pattern before reaching the halfway point on the board. Just like in the popular numbers game, Suduko, reducing the possible number of patterns as you progress through each stage. Like this example, multivariate testing can produce winning formulas for you! By using real data from real consumers, multivariate testing provides you with the opportunity to tailor your site to continually meet the needs of your customers.

Actions speak louder than words:

It can be very frustrating when you are a retailer trying to listen to lots of raised voices trying to drown out the others and inform you about their tools and services all at once (just like in this case with everyone initially shouting out the rules of the game) … it really can leave you dazed, confused and a little bit irritated!

Our service:

Digital & Wise understand that there is more value in demonstrating the tool in action rather than just shouting about it, or expecting you to take our word for it. We are confident and passionate about helping you succeed and achieve the best possible results. If you’d like to see how multivariate testing can provide game changing results for your business please contact us on 0161 946 3851.

We have also created our very own MVT calculator so you can see the potential additional monthly revenue you could be achieving … Unleash the power of your website!!

Your challenge:

If after reading this article you have a sudden urge to try your hand at a game of Mastermind, you’ll be pleased to know that you can play an online version of the game or, if you’re feeling up to the challenge, why not take on one of our Digital & Wise team. We’re confident in our strategy and we’d love to put it to the test!

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