Increasing usability and encouraging people to get started

I've recently launched my first WPMU site and it's focused on a niche of users that are pretty low tech. We aren't doing any kind of free plan, they have to pay to have access and we offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

Out of 10 people that have signed up, only about 3 have done anything with their blog.

From what I can tell through emailing some of our members and a few that have canceled, people:

a) Don't know where to get started
b) Are having trouble figuring out how to do anything

Even though we have the intro video available from this site embedded into the dashboard, it doesn't seem people are taking the time to watch it.

Today I added a new feature to the dashboard, and I would like to get your thoughts/feedback.

I created a Todo list with about six things like edit your first post, pick a theme you like, add widgets, edit your about page, etc. Each todo item has a link directly to the place they can accomplish the task. The todo list also has some slick ajax that <strike>s the item when they mark it as done and once they've marked them all done it disappears completely.

My goal is to get people updating the site right from the get go so they will feel more committed to the product.

I'd like any feedback on this idea and also any ideas you would have for getting people to get started on setting up their blog.


  • sceno

    "We aren't doing any kind of free plan, they have to pay to have access and we offer a 30 day money back guarantee"

    tbh I think that may account for some of your problem. I understand you have a "niche" but If users can go elsewhere to larger and more established sites and receive an equivalent service but for free why would they come to you?

    Perhaps look at other methods of raising funds... have a look at what edublogs do with the supporter plugin or the upgrades plugin.

    As for making things simpler - perhaps use the "menus" plugin to disable all unnecessary user admin options.

  • andrea_r

    "If users can go elsewhere to larger and more established sites and receive an equivalent service but for free why would they come to you?"

    Actually his service has features you *can't* get elsewhere.

    Tim, you may have to whip up a pdf for them to download, send the link in the signup emails. Don't know how much that will help, but it might.

    Edit: Actually, on one system I'm working on, we're using the Admin Message plugin to be a HUGE visible reminder of the very first step. In this case, we want them to fill out their profile first thing, so the message instructs them where to go.

  • drmike

    edublogs does this and so do a number of my clients but running your own tutorial blog with suggestions and articles on how things work seems to help a lot. Also take a look at your help files and FAQs. I know on our sites, these run about 200 pages. (We support a lot of video embed sites.) Most of the mu sites I look at don't have a single one.

    Actually his service has features you *can't* get elsewhere.

    Do the clients know that? A well written features page or even a tour like they do over at Typepad would be a plus.

  • sceno

    Well, if you do have unique services and the site is as nice as andrea_r suggests and it does sound like you have a very nice dashboard that should be grabbing peoples attention I can't but help think that the problem may not lie with your design, services and functionality but your marketing/pricing... especially as andrea_r points out you have a lower-tech audience who it might be argued are less likely to spend money on such things.

    On the other hand if you had 10 sign ups and only retained 3 users I would argue that's not actually too bad a ratio. I'm currently converting a purpose built art-portfolio site to wpmu. Over our three years we've had perhaps 700 sign-ups but retained only around 300 regulars, and I bet 50 of them are now dormant.

  • timgrahl

    Thanks for the feedback!

    andrea_r and I actually exchanged some emails today and she's correct in that our message isn't extremely clear on front end marketing so we are working on that.

    My worry is that 3 out of 10 people using it wouldn't be bad except they are all paying customers. I'm trying to arrange things so once people pay and login for the first time, they are immediately moved into getting their site setup so they have some time invested. Otherwise they'll never set it up and cancel within the first 30 days.

    If I can only get 30% of paying customers engaged then I'm screwed on getting the free members engaged enough to actually join (once we move to a "try it out free" model).

    I'm keeping an eye on my todo list, but I'm interested in any ideas people have seen in other web apps that get people engaged from the get go so they'll hang around and keep using the service.

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