Beware of Local MaximaPosted: June 23, 2011
Site owners often A/B test the design of their websites with the goal of increasing the conversion rate of sign ups or sales or some other metric. Site owners often can encounter local maxima. Local maxima are, as the photo demonstrates, like the peaks of small mountains when there are larger mountains surrounding the point that you are at. One interesting feature about local maxima are that in order to leave one, you have to make steps backwards for the chance to get to a better point. In the real world, you can not be sure whether a local maxima is also a global maxima (the highest of all possible points) or not. Even with the possibility that a local maxima is also a global maxima, it is often still worth testing a handful of divergent design ideas and then trying to refine them so that you may discover a higher peak and increase the conversion rate for your site.
This concept is metaphorical to many things in life. We may be stuck at local maxima and will need to explore to potentially find higher maxima. Unfortunately unlike in the world of A/B testing web designs, it takes a serious amount of time and effort to test different possibilities in your life. While it does take significant resources to test out different directions in your life, I think it is well worthwhile to do so. The experience of testing out different options can be an adventure in itself and life is long and you will have the opportunity to seriously pursue many things in your life.
If you are completely satisfied with your current path, by all means, stay the course. Though, if you are not sure, do not be afraid to explore. While exploring, it may be best to focus on one thing at a time so you can really delve deep in a subject rather than merely reaching the foothills of many subjects. Part of the adventure is to explore many different possibilities and who knows, you may reach new heights.