WordPress is the greatest content management system ever. The stats prove it. It is used by 61.5% of all the websites that have opted for a CMS solution, or 34.7% of all sites on the Internet, according to the latest w3techs usage data.
With WordPress, you can create any website you want. That includes online learning systems too. Combined with the right extension, you can transform your WordPress website into a robust Learning Management System that allows you to offer online courses to students, and grow your revenue in the process.
Which leads us to the main question that we’ll answer in this article – how to build a Learning Management system using WordPress?
What Is an LMS?
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a website that hosts online courses, and it allows people to participate in online training. There are several significant benefits of providing online learning, more specifically:
- Recurring Income: Online courses provide you with a recurring income. You can create your online courses and sell them without the need to put time aside to host them live or in front of an audience.
- Higher Reach: Online courses can reach as many people as possible, compared to live classes where you’re tied to your available hours.
- Cost-Efficiency: With an LMS, you can cut costs such as printed materials, travel, training venue, and lector payments. With a WordPress LMS, you can easily offer users what they’re interested in.
- Better Communication: Online courses create an open connection between users and your brand.
The Key Components of a Professional WordPress LMS
To make learning on your LMS as scalable as possible, there are several core features that you need to include, namely:
- Intrinsic UX: Even if students know what the course is about, you can’t guess the degree of interaction that they’ve had with LMS platforms before. To ensure that your LMS supports a vast student base, the platform’s UX must be user-friendly and intuitive.
- Certifications: Online certificates must adapt to state, federal, and regional requirements. They must have a course number, account number, accreditation number that need to appear on the generated certificates.
- Course Lock: A course lock feature is necessary if the student is inactive or stops engaging with the learning material.
- Identity Check: Random checks while the students take a course will help you verify that users are actual people taking the course.
- eCommerce Integration: Your WordPress LMS must allow different payment options, including free courses, coupon-redeemable courses, courses that require payment via credit card, or Paypal.
- Video Integration: Video is the nearest experience that someone can have to a traditional classroom. Make sure that your WordPress LMS platform hosts videos efficiently and adequately.
- Course Timer: A course timer can tell you the average time students spend on a course. It will also show how long they study the material and their progress in a specific topic.
Determining Your Niche
The secret to successful user retention of your WordPress LMS product is your niche market. You probably already know the topics that you want to cover with your courses. That is why you need to stand out if you’re going to attract learners and retain them on your platform.
Discover the Pain Points
Is there a specific course or function of your WordPress LMS that helps users resolve their problems? Have a meeting with your tech and eLearning team, and decide which are the key features that will match the users’ learning challenges.
Start sending questionnaires to students, email subscribers, and your social media followers. Learn more about their online learning preferences and adjust your WordPress LMS accordingly.
You might discover that some users are more likely to subscribe via Facebook than on Twitter, so that you might reduce your Twitter posts as a result.
You will also find out what people want to learn on your LMS. After that, you can identify your niche and focus on the LMS features and courses that matter to your target users.
Inspect Your Competition
Scope out your competitors to see what they’re doing in terms of marketing, LMS features, and how they capitalize on their strengths. Use the information to improve your campaigns and fine-tune your LMS options.
Rely on Big Data
Surveys are great, but you should not forget big data. Everything from website stats, to customer data findings and other important pieces of information will help you see the bigger picture of your LMS, and what your target audience is interested in.
Plan the Structure of Your WordPress LMS
Developing a learning website can turn into a demanding work if you don’t know what you’re building. The following questions might help you to plan the structure of your WordPress LMS:
- Who is it for?
- What are the learning goals?
- How is the learning content arranged?
- Will you allow free courses?
- When will the courses be available for enrollment?
- How will your LMS be different from the competition?
- How much will the premium course cost?
After you answer the questions above, the course materials and the technology stack will become much easier to carry out.
Pay Attention to How Courses Are Structured
The meticulousness of the courses in your WordPress LMS will be illustrated by how the students feel when browsing the material.
Because people will learn remotely, how the courses are delivered is vital. The LMS encloses the “e” from the “eLearning” equation. When you create and add courses, it’s the “Learning” segment that you must focus on.
Analyze the courses that you want to include and determine how you will divide up the curriculum for your students.
That is important because it will help users decide how they will complete the modules and assignments.
The Plugins That You Can Use for Building WordPress LMS
Let’s take a look at some of the finest WordPress LMS plugins, so you can choose the ones that suit your needs the best.
LearnPress is an online membership tool that allows you to create online courses. You can use LearnPress to protect the learning materials as well as provide users with updates, and a place where they can interact.
Some of the powerful features of LearnPress are:
- Unlimited memberships, and restricting content
- Automatic upgrades
- Subscription and transaction administration
- Locking of specific pages
- Access drip and access expiration
Sensei is an LMS and a course listing plugin developed by Automattic, the company behind WooCommerce and WordPress. Therefore, it blends perfectly with the CMS, making the implementation much easier for WordPress sites.
It’s an easy-to-use plugin that’s ideal for entrepreneurs already running a WooCommerce store, but who want to provide LMS services as well.
LearnDash is a plugin that helps you develop and publish multimedia online courses.
With LearnDash, you’ll get a ton of functionalities including content scheduling, user rewards, an enrollment system, private lessons, and much more. Additionally, the plugin allows you to sell your courses via WooCommerce.
WP Courseware helps you to effortlessly create courses and protect them. The tool provides you with a collection of integrations you can choose from, such as WooCommerce, OptimizePress, BuddyPress, Visual Composer, and more.
The best features about this LMS plugin are:
- A visual builder that works with drag and drop movements, providing essentials such as course protection, drip content, and email notifications.
- Managing and exporting grade books.
- Running a multi-instructor system where each teacher can manage its course.
- Multiple question types and question tags for the quizzes.
LifterLMS gives you access to a variety of features, such as custom course building, quiz support, scheduling content, and more. The plugin allows multiple types of payments and subscriptions. You can even bundle lessons together when you structure your courses.
The MasterStudy LMS plugin allows you to develop lessons with videos, graphs, slides, and any other type of content.
All the key elements of this LMS tool are built with Vue.js, which results in faster page loads and better page transitions. The best features of this plugin are:
- Excellent UI
- Recurring payment integrations with PayPal and Stripe
- An environment for students to get answers and provide feedback to course creators
- Quizzes, real-time questions, and countdown timers
- Generating certifications for students that complete the course
Putting Content and Design Together
Each of the courses must have a learning goal, and the course material should support that.
Your WordPress LMS systems allow you to embed multimedia content into each lesson. Using multiple types of media is important if you want to offer different learning options. Some people learn better from videos. Others enjoy reading or listening, while others need to practice.
Besides learning content, you can also integrate exercises, assignments, and to-do lists. Quizzes can be multimedia too. They’d help learners to master the material and practice what they’ve just learned.
You can also add features such as course bundles, non-LMS content like articles, and even access to other perks not included in your website for people that have a specific membership level.
The groups of courses can be designed to enwrap a broader topic. Content from outside the course can add an interesting mix of lessons, industry news, events, and useful products.
Interesting extensive content-filled courses and levels of memberships might take a while. That is why it’s a good idea to plan and pre-approve the content once your LMS design and layout are ready.
Integrating the eCommerce Elements
When the content and UX are approved, you need to integrate the elements that will help you sell the courses. Your WordPress LMS will incorporate seamlessly with eCommerce and membership features.
You need to have one or multiple payment options for a course or membership. The eCommerce elements that you need to consider are:
- Plan Period
- Plan Length
- Access Expiration
- Trial Offer
- Trial Price
- Trial Length
- Sale Pricing
- Sale Price
- Sale Start Date
- Sale End Date
- Plan Availability
Ask for Feedback
Your WordPress LMS site can always be improved, especially when you need to change something on your platform.
It’s also a good practice is to listen to your members and see where they are encountering problems. You should periodically:
- Review the reporting threads to see where learners are losing interest.
- Add feedback after a module or a course is completed.
- Integrate a forum system and allow discussions.
- Send an email to the learners asking for direct feedback.
We hope that through this mini-guide, you have a better idea how to build a learning management system using WordPress. The course setup work can often be challenging, especially with all the integrations of plugins, memberships, and eCommerce elements.
However, you should also keep in mind that like the top-notch WordPress LMS platforms, you will also need to keep evolving continuously. Launching an LMS is just the start.