Around 80% of new signups at WordPress.com drop off after thirty days

22 Comments

Matt Mullenweg hosted a question and answer town hall at WordCamp Montreal last weekend—a good deal of which was covered fantastically by Joachim Kudish and Mark McWilliams in our first ever Quasi Liveblog. The future of WordPress was discussed, as it usually is at these things, including what could be improved in the next version of WordPress.

According to Mullenweg a large number of new signups to WordPress.com are no longer active 30 days after joining the free blogging site (around 80%). This means that users drop below a level that could be considered “active” on the system.

One idea brought up during the town hall to combat this problem was a more user friendly welcome screen that would greet new WordPress users. It may end up outside of the scope of the next version(3.3), but WordPress may need a dose of Clippy in its future1.

Do you ever find yourself walking friends or clients through WordPress just to introduce them to the basics? Do any of them quit using it because they find it too difficult or confusing? Why do you think so many new users stop using WordPress?

1I’m kidding. Though I shouldn’t really have to point that out.

22 thoughts on “Around 80% of new signups at WordPress.com drop off after thirty days

  1. This isn’t surprising. A large number of people who start blogs in general don’t stick with it. It takes a lot of dedication to actively run a blog and regularly update and maintain it. It’s the primary reason I haven’t created a blog for myself. Between running a business and family time I just don’t have the time to devote to it.

    • I agree. Running a blog is time consuming and challenging. Most people are looking for the instant gratification and after a month or blogging and not receiving the following or putting the effort into gaining readership they will just stop using the platform altogether. WordPress comes chalk full of great options and for as much as it offeres I believe the interface to be quite intuitive and straight forward. Anyone willing to put even a hint of effort out will be able to pick up the interface. I could see some integrated help being beneficial for new users but would want it to be something that could be turned off after a user has become familiar.

  2. And a lot of us use WP.com for the JetPack/OpenID factor, but want to ‘keep’ name.wp.com as a sort of … brand protection.

  3. I would guess that more people drop off because they lose steam writing content rather than because WordPress is too hard to use. We have clients that that “had to have” a blog as part of their website. And then we check their site a month or two later and it’s never been updated. I think most people severely under-estimate how much work it is to write new content on a regular basis.

    • You nailed it on the spot.

      WordPress has done it’s job – it can’t be any easier, cleaner and faster to publish content online. The fact remains: writing good content is hard.

      • @Michael

        I disagree that WordPress can’t be any easier. I work with mostly clients who don’t know anything about web design, but they want to edit their own site and blog. They get very frustrated with having to learn a whole new system, I get complaints all the time.

        Some things like sidebars are very convoluted in WP. It doesn’t make much sense to a newbie to edit part of their page in one place, then edit the other part of their page in another place. Plus learning a new system where sidebars are called “widgets” and there are Primary, Secondary, Tertiary versions of that.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think the WP team has done an excellent job at making a powerful, flexible CMS. It might not be possible to have the simplicity of say Tumblr with the power of WordPress. I’m just saying as designers/developers I think we easily lose sight of how hard WP is for newbies.

        • @Scott

          I would say that actually posting content is dead simple in WordPress. Editing widgets is a totally separate issue that often distracts clients from focusing on content. On most sites we build the sidebars aren’t usually changed that much so there’s not really any reason for the client to get a full understanding of how they work. I’d rather spend that time teaching them how to write for the web.

        • @Scott
          Agree with you 100%, as we take the interface of WordPress for granted, A newbies see the dashboard very complicated, with all the Posts, Media, Links Pages, Appearance, Users, Tools, Setting, Etc..When all you want to do is a simple post with a image, I just wish there was a WordPress Basic for newbies, it would make life much easier

        • Scott,

          I couldn’t agree more. It’s not easy and it’s not intuitive for non-programmers. The documentation is convoluted also. Even feedback seems to be parsed or edited or not taken seriously from the non-technical community. There are independent “frameworks” that help make it somewhat easier. We know that the future will be capacitive touchscreen – why not start to move WordPress in that direction with the ability to drag and drop element or content boxes anywhere desired on the page.

  4. The biggest cause of blogger attrition is lack of feedback and traffic. “If you write it, they will come” is one of the biggest misconceptions in the field. I’ve been blogging since 2002 and the frequency of my writing has tapered off a lot mainly because “life gets in the way” or I have work or I have work or I have even more work! But that’s okay, because I am well aware of these things and I don’t have any grandiose illusions about my online presence. I’m fine with what I do.

    Unfortunately, as has been pointed out already, a lot of people lose steam with their writing. It’s the usual case of lofty goals without the energy nor discipline to see them through. My two cents.

  5. Do you ever find yourself walking friends or clients through WordPress just to introduce them to the basics? Do any of them quit using it because they find it too difficult or confusing?

    Yes and Yes, I have some clients that just want to use WordPress for basic blogging, they want to create a post insert a picture and thats it,

    My suggestion to Matt Mullenweg (WordPress Designers/Developers) would be to have a Basic Version of WordPress, less confusing for the average person, and I am sure that 80% will go down.

  6. I think a lot of it is for Jetpack and WordPress Based Plugin’s that require WordPress.com Users.
    I still Use my WordPress.com Blog daily. Without any of the SEO PLUGINS and ETC, it still generates hits.

  7. I’ve never used WordPress.com, only self hosted installs, so I can’t really comment on that side of the debate.

    I try to explain to clients and contributers on Sock Monkey Sound that using wordpress is a lot like using Gmail and that the best way to learn how is to just get in there and use it. That said, many people can’t be bothered with using ANYTHING on a computer. I’m sorry, but some folks just don’t like to be challenged by something outside their realm of influence.

    Dave is right, posting content is simple and when I explain how to WordPress to someone I focus on that. As an admin it’s my job to take care of the rest of the crap associated with their website.

  8. I don’t doubt the 80% number, but what pisses me off is that those names become gone forever, never to be released. I went to grab a WP blog and found that norcross.wordpress.com was taken…by a real estate agent in Norcross, GA. No posts other than the “Hello World” in 2008.

    • I used to live in GA and Norcross always sucked. While that has no bearing on the topic I do believe that it speaks to the relationship between Norcross, GA and how it’s citizens use WordPress. Too bad there’s not a way to release those names if they remain static for so long.

  9. I would guess WordPress.com has their signup emails – sound like a good questionairre needs hashing together to ask them direct ….I think the problem is two fold

    1, Many have tech burn out – there is too much tech software to keep on top of ..WordPress it just another addition to the overload … the web is crammed full of tech how to’s ..should that suggest something? — people tell me they are tech burnt out ..it is not a case of being lazy ( although some are for sure) .. it is either easier or they run for the door .. ..

    2. There is one WordPress download to fit all – the human race is being asked to adapt to this one modal .all ages, all learning abilities , … for example ..the font in the dashboard just got smaller … oh so you get more in the view I am told .. well of course provided your eyesight is good enough … people e-mailed me and complained like mad …they did not see more they saw LESS .. only software seems to follow this modal .. okay okay there are plugins ..i know ..but is that really the way to deal with it??
    Windows brought out different editions, Photoshop brought out a basic level, etc … I think WordPress needs to look to do the same … WordPres does not know enough about its customers … and its customers do not say anything because people think it is their fault and not the software ( Matt Mullenweg himself picked up this) .. software has to fit its users not the other way round – do not realise that and you lose your 80%

  10. I doubt there’s much WP can do to make too many more people stick around. When something is super popular, people hear about, get excited, sign-up, then… forget about it or move on to the next thing. The phenomenon goes beyond WordPress. It’s just the way us curious, fickle humans work. 🙂

    What’s great is that 20% stick with it! That’s a lot of people.

  11. I’m sure this is well within (or better than) industry norm. I’ve read before that the median amount of tweets by Twitter users is 1.

  12. I would wonder as elDeuce stated how many of these people have self-hosted blogs and are signing up for the Akismet Key or activating the Jet Pack Plugin.

    I agree that WordPress especially the dashboard with all its options can be overwhelming to new users. For my clients, I set up a master admin account and personal editor accounts for each user. You could go even simpler for the personal account and make it an author author. Either way the posting options become much more direct to the user with the simpler dashboard layout. It would be great if there was an option to for admin level users to toggle between dashboard views.

    I have to say that I disliked that paper clip icon in Windows and I hope I never see it again – glad to see you were just kidding.

  13. I agree that wordpress is just way too difficult. Especially making style changes, and dealing with widgets. The posting is not so bad, after the initial struggle. Other platforms are way more user friendly (and others I’ve tried are much worse). I’ve enjoyed using Tumblr for several years, and thought I would move up to something more powerful. I had no idea how challenging it would be, and am not giving up my Tumblrs just yet. The wp and theme support forums are so technical, and the posters get pretty impatient with us newbie dummies. I’m wasting so much time learning all the technicals, my content is taking a back seat . If something as functional but more user friendly comes along, I’m jumping ship.

Comments are closed.