User Onboarding with WordPress

Recently, Stephen shared an interesting site with me – User Onboarding – in which, as the site states, seeks to do the following:

User Onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product.

Learn some lessons from how popular web apps do it!

It’s a really simple, straightforward site that highlights how various applications sign up, sign in, and continue using a product. Not only that, it also looks at what’s bad about the process, too.

User Onboarding

In short, it’s a great site to peruse (or to throw in your RSS reader) if for no other reason to check out some of the ways in which other companies attempt to garner customers.

But principles, by nature, tend to be transferrable (not always, but many times). This means that some of the lessons explored throughout the various teardowns the site does are applicable to onboarding users with WordPress.

The Process of User Onboarding

Right now, I think the WordPress economy, at least as it relates to themes, is in a really unique position: We know that the way products are currently priced and sold is not sustainable, and many – myself included – want to reverse this trend, but we’re also stuck in a place where there’s been very, very little change in how we present, advertise, and try to convert sales of themes.

That is to say that our oboarding process hasn’t changed very much.

  1. Setup a landing page for the theme that showcases some screenshots and features
  2. Share some text explaining why the theme is so great
  3. Optionally provide a demo of the theme for users to explore
  4. Offer a purchase button

Isn’t this the typical scenario? This hasn’t changed much in the past few years which leads me to think that one of the following two things are true:

  1. The onboarding process has been perfected such that there’s no room for it to change because we’ve discovered what works
  2. We’ve gotten stuck in our ways and are simply doing what we see one another doing because it’s how it’s always been done

Perhaps there’s a third (and maybe even fourth, fifth, etc.) point that I’m missing, but as I continued to think about it, everything came back to one of these two points and I honestly don’t think the first option is true.

Let’s Fix It

Usually, when someone writes about a given problem, I like to see them present the problem and some possible solutions, that I don’t really have anything that I consider to be a viable solution at this point.

Sure, I – like many – have some ideas that are probably outlandish and near ridiculous, but there’s no fun in sharing those, is there? :)

Regardless, this is one of those areas in which I think it’d be fun to experiment with a few strategies to see what works the same, what works better, and what fails miserably. I’m also curious, though, what others have done to try to innovate on what we’ve been doing and how it’s worked out.

And maybe I’ll periodically share some user onboarding ideas. Or maybe not.

4 Replies to “User Onboarding with WordPress”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this. In the last couple of months, and after reading an article by Chris Lema talking on a related topic, I’ve also been thinking about building a more “walking through” process for our newcomers. Kind of see we have an abandoned author place in the interaction of the users with the themes. Thinking that the our search should be of finding the line between staying helpful and disrupting their creative process (or work, for this matter).
    Would love to see what other authors are doing in the field.

    1. …finding the line between staying helpful and disrupting their creative process (or work, for this matter).

      Indeed.

      Would love to see what other authors are doing in the field.

      Agreed. And props to referencing Lema. Love what Chris has to write :).

  2. I love this post. There’s ALWAYS room for improvement, and sometimes a lot of improvement. Most of the time it’s small, iterative changes, but every now and then someone comes along that has the (quite valuable) ability to look at something in such a unique way and a different perspective that it stands everything on its head, and. to use a barf-inducing cliche, changes the game.
    Those epiphanies and visionaries are rare, though. What’s more common is testing and tweaking. John O Nolan had an interesting post the other day about conversions for Ghost. (http://blog.ghost.org/ghost-onboarding/). His methodology, although sometimes tedious and a dead-end, is more often effective, productive(as in his case) and worthwhile. Even if it’s small gains, they’re compounded over time, and we all know the power of compounding. His ability and willingness to implement this testing, then act on it, one reason I believe that he’s going to have a huge success on his hands eventually with Ghost. He’s taking the lead on things like this, whereas with WP, it’s mostly left to theme authors and the open source community to determine what works, and like you point out, that usually ends up in things settling somewhere near the middle and people becoming stuck in their ways with little noticeable improvement.

    1. barf-inducing cliche, changes the game.

      omg yes.

      His ability and willingness to implement this testing, then act on it, one reason I believe that he’s going to have a huge success on his hands eventually with Ghost.

      Agreed on all points. I love looking at what other people doing in the similar space – and even in not so similar space – to try to draw inspiration from them.

      It’s hard, though, to come up with something completely different than things we’ve already seen done.

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