I'm about to move into the "stable" (not beta) phase of my hieroglyphs course. In anticipation of that, I have been examining how students will enroll. I had some serious concerns about how the standard course block takes students on a non-informative and dead-end route to nothing when they click on a course that requires payment and they are not already a registered user at the site and they try to enter as a guest. I did away with the course block, and created an HTML block that links directly to the courses description page. But that still doesn't solve the problem that site registration must occur before the student can pay for the course.
I've got two ideas. One is to hack the login page so that it only shows the guest button if the course the student is trying to access actually allows guests. This will force people to register at the site, and then they will be able to pay afterwards.
The second idea is to modify the description on the course categories page to indicate that site enrollment is necessary first. This would be helpful to have if the person were to come across the page through a search engine. I still worry about losing people by time they pay, or it being confusing for them to return to the page where they pay. Ideally, when they register for the first time, the confirmation/welcome email would contain a link to the payment page so that they wouldn't have to seek it out. But that would mean the email would have to be modified depending on how the person got to the course. Again, not an ideal situation either.
What do you think of these ideas? And do any of you have any other clever ideas about handling this? As the saying goes, if a person has to click more than twice to get somewhere, chances are they won't.