Give your learners an excellent course experience from the moment they register.

Setting up your registration page is one of the nuts-and-bolts tasks you have to accomplish in order to run an online course. We run our registration through WordPress, as that functionality is a core part of their system. Our training specialist, James Tryon, recently gave a webinar about how to set up registration in WordPress. If you’re looking for some “how-to” advice, that’s the place to start:

You may have set up registration a while ago, and haven’t given it much thought since. Or perhaps this is your first course and you’re wondering if there’s anything more you should be doing with your registration page. Because this is the first exposure your learners will have to your content, making sure this section of your course works well is key to helping them get started.

Here’s a few tips to ensure your learners have the best experience when they sign up for your course.

1. Brand your login page to cut down on confusion.

The standard WordPress login page is pretty generic—which is good for cutting down on visual clutter. However, you should take a few minutes to add your logo to this page, so that learners know they’re signing up for the right thing. I know I always hesitate to enter my personal information into an interface if it looks completely different from the one I was just on. Having your logo can cut down on that confusion and provide some much-needed reassurance.

2. Send automated emails confirming registration.

Once users have registered and logged in to your site, you should send them an email confirming their registration and welcoming them to your course. You should also use this email to direct learners to the next steps they need to take as they begin their course. For instance, you should link them to any rules you have regarding your online forum, or to a class syllabus that outlines important course milestones.

You can also tie registration in to automatic enrollment in certain courses. For instance, if you’re running a training program, and certain employees need to complete certification within a certain period in a few different courses, then automatically enrolling them in each can help them get started faster.

3. Encourage them to protect their account.

Most people are not good at securing their online accounts, and your learners are no exception. To them, it might not seem like a big deal, but for professional environments, or for any course through an accredited institution, having a secure account is important (and, I would argue, for every other account as well).

There are a few ways you can encourage your learners to secure their account. First, you can use a password generator to prompt them to choose something strong rather than the standard password they use for every account. (Note: setting password “rules” about what characters must be included often lead to worse passwords. It’s also bad to restrict special characters or to put a limit on the length of a password.)

The best and easiest security level-up you can offer, however, is to encourage your learners to set up two-step verification on their account. Set-up is usually simple, and doing so adds an extra layer of security that is prohibitively difficult for your garden-variety hacker to break into.

4. Use conditional logic to update the front end once learners log in.

Once learners have logged in, you may want to change the view they have on the front end of your webpage. Even something as simple as turning the “login” button in the navigation to “my account” can affect user experience by giving them access to new areas of the site and offering a small visual confirmation that they are signed in.

You can change how users experience your site in other ways, as well. For instance, you could have a place for a logged-in member to leave a public-facing review, or make it possible for them to add a course to their wish list. These are small changes, but they add a nice touch to your course website.

5. Create an online orientation walkthrough for your course.

When a new learner signs into your course for the first time, you’ll probably want to give them a short tour—kind of like the orientation students usually get at a university, or that an employee gets at a new job. WordPress has several website tour plugins you can check out that would help you set this up. This would also be a great way to point new learners in the direction of your syllabus, your community forum, the first lesson of your course, or even their learner profile.

6. Encourage your learners to fill in their profile.

Finally, help your learners interact with their peers by encouraging them to fill out profiles. A profile gives your learners a way to talk about themselves, and to find other members who might be similar. This, in turn, can help build your community by helping everyone get to know each other better.

Making the most of your user registration process helps learners start off on the right foot.

As you can see, there are a lot of small touches in the registration process that can have a significant impact on how learners begin their course. Simple visual cues, like showing a new navigation bar to the side of the course, or having a “My Account” menu item in your navigation, can confirm for them that they have taken the right steps to engage with your course. Walkthroughs and automated emails can help them get started, and filling out a profile can encourage them to start participating in the community.

The attention to detail you put into the early stages of your course will pay off as users feel welcomed and initiated. And if this is an area you haven’t revisited in a while, giving it some more attention may be worth your while. You could find yourself seeing benefits from increased participation and fewer customer complaints.

Laura Lynch photo

About Laura Lynch

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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I like the look of the pop-up but there is no way to close the pop-up except for actually loggin in or refreshing the page.

Is there some way to make it so that one can either click a close button, or simply click outside of the pop-up to make it go away?

Also, having the option to decide the location of the pop-up would be very nice. For example having it center/center instead of top/center.

I have installed the demo site and it looks great. However, when I installed BuddyPress, the registration process became confusing. Should users register from :”My Account” or “Register” page? Please advise how I can set it up. Thanks.

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