Increasing Sign-ups for Bloggers

by on Dec.12, 2008, under UX Design Solutions

A little less wit today in my headline, but I think the topic is so clear that I don’t want to taint it. I’m sure it’s near and dear to all bloggers’ hearts!

Yesterday I attended an outstanding seminar by Joshua Porter produced by those great folks at UIE (yep shameless Ak’ing there.):) The topic was Designing for Sign-up. What struck me the most about the presentation, as a UX geek, was that the issue was not about the mechanical process of making the sign-up easier, but around the socio-psychological issues of helping users make a commitment.

Here’s the recap (before I get into all the details – good blog form) of the points to help you add this to your arsenal of blog techniques:

1. For visitors who are ready to sign-up right away stay out of their way by providing sign-up options clearly at the top of your blog page. With your logo at the top and a tagline or elevator pitch associated with it that may be all they need to convince them that signing up is a good idea.

2. For visitors who need a little extra to understand what they will get out of it if they sign-up, provide them with a few short bullet points about what their action will get them (notifications) and your blog’s value proposition – what are you going to give your readers?

The bottom line in most cases is that sign-up for your blog feed, your ezine, whatever, is not as much about how easy the process is (that’s important, but not all of it), but about addressing users fears, questions, issues about WHY on earth do I want to sign-up.

There were three levels of engagement that Joshua identified about what’s in the users head:

Level 1 – I know I want to sign up.
Level 2 – I want to make sure this is for me.
Level 3 – I’m skeptical.

And here were his answers to each level:

Design for the 3 levels of engagement
Level 1 – I know I want to sign up -> Get out of their way
Level 2 - I want to make sure this is for me -> Reiterate your basic value proposition and provide additional description.>
Level 3 – I’m skeptical ->Provide highly detailed levels of description; free trials; product tutorials

So let’s take a look at how you as a blogger can address each one of these issues to increase your sign-up (for whatever you want):

1. I know what I want -> Get out of their way
With this one you have won the battle. No work necessary here! So What I suggest to get out of their way is give them what they want and put your rss sign up and your email sign up right at the top of your blog page (most blog formats already do that for you and this one is probably a widely addressed solution).

2. I want to make sure this is for me -> Reiterate your basic value proposition
a. This is where you have to start doing some work. Joshua identifies 3 levels of description to use in descending order:

  1. Elevator Pitch (taglines, one sentence descriptions, your logo)
  2. Learn More (bulleted lists of why signing up matters, features and benefits)
  3. In-depth (support forums, case studies, detailed product descriptions)

Number 3 really relates much more to signing up for a product or when a purchase is involved so I’ll skip over that one for now, but will take it on in a future post.

Elevator Pitch – Make sure your logo, tagline and or a one sentence description of what you have to offer is prominent and at the top of your page. Visitors will engage, they will trust and you will start to build your brand. Most importantly that may be all they need to say “hey that would be helpful to me” and sign-up.

Learn More – Here’s where you start to break it down in more detail for the user. In my case I provided this little idea in my subscribe box:

Begin building your arsenal of UX insights to get your application humming for your users

Feature – UX Insights
Benefit – humming applications

Next I’ve added this little list of items that you can expect to see as I continue to blog:

By subscribing you will get:
> A notification about new posts as I make them
> Free UX Design solutions, ideas and techniques designed to help YOU be better at User Experience yourself.

So you say “big deal everyone knows that” (signing up gets you notifications), but that is exactly the point. Everyone doesn’t know that! I had no clue when I went to a blog for the first time what on earth I would be getting when I signed up for the blog. I thought “why would I do that?” so here I’m addressing that issue.

The second bullet clearly states my value proposition in a more detailed way than both of the preceding one sentence tag lines. I’m letting you know that you will get stuff for free and you will learn and get better. Not a bad deal! And one of the subtle pieces here is by using a > instead of a bullet I’m creating a call to action.

Note also how I’ve maintained my hierarchy of offerings:

  • Short elevator pitch in the header, and above the subscribe box.
  • Slightly more detailed description for the learn more folks BELOW the subscribe buttons so that I STAY OUT OF THE WAY of people who are instantly engaged and ready to sign-up.

Give it a try and be sure to let me know how you make out!

:, ,
7 comments for this entry:
  1. Joshua Porter

    Hi Deb, thanks for this wonderful write-up of my seminar! And, for the record, the title you chose is about the clearest possible…no need to change. ;)


  2. AlignedDeb

    Honored and appreciative. Thanks Josh! :)

  3. Review of Designing for Sign-up Virtual Seminar » UIE Brain Sparks

    […] month, Deb Brown at Aligned Structures wrote up a great review of Joshua Porter’s recent UIE Virtual Seminar, Designing for Signup: […]

  4. blabla

    What about people that don’t care? They’ll sign up using fake data to try things out first, and change their data or sign up for real later…

    They don’t really fit any of the three discriptions.
    Hmm, I guess you should not design for these users. Or should you?

  5. AlignedDeb

    I think no matter what you do there will always be folks who will try something and then decide it’s not for them and decide to remain anonymous during the process. I do it from time to time myself as I have been burned, like many of us, with something I’ve signed up for that either clogs my inbox or grabs my address book and floods my contacts with emails. Free markets and freedom of information have upsides and downsides. The 90/10 rule (tighter than the 80/20 rule) applies here – this is probably a small percent of your viewers and I wouldn’t design for them as the expense is clearly not worth the return – negative ROI there.

  6. Art Notebook » Found Elsewhere » Aligned Structures: Increasing Sign-ups for Bloggers

    […] Brown at Aligned Structures offers a nice review of a UIE seminar given by Joshua Porter titled “Designing for Sign-up.” I’ve seen […]

  7. Review of Designing for Sign-up Virtual Seminar | Modern Ui

    […] month, Deb Brown at Aligned Structures wrote up a great review of Joshua Porter’s recent UIE Virtual Seminar, Designing for Signup: […]

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