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I've been looking around for split testing solutions for wordpress and most answers point to the now-outdated shrimptest plugin. I'm not really interested in using a plugin anyway, unless I write it myself.

I'd like to be able to pass a parameter to a multipage post and have the content re-arrange itself; prev / next buttons moved up, image moved down, font-style changed, etc.

Unfortunately I'm just not seeing much info available. Is it possible to swap one version of single.php for another, based on the URL param? Are there any best practice guidelines for split testing?

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I don't think it is common enough task for there to be generic recommendations in WordPress area.

Taking the more specific part of your question — manipulating template is certainly possible and quite common.

  1. Any template (being loaded in native fashion) will have to go through template_include filter
  2. Results of single template specifically will go through single_template filter before that.

At either point you could check for URL parameter and override the choice made.

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