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22 Nov 2020
Julia Ferrari

Choosing the right platform for your online course

Many things have changed with the pandemic, and one of them is learning new skills through online courses. Many people started creating online courses, but this can be a bit overwhelming. As a web designer, I had been contacted by many clients to help set up their courses. One of the most frequent questions was on the choice of the platform. In this article you are going to find some guidance to choose the Learning Management System (LMS) that is most convenient for you.

If you already have a website, this guide will also help you to decide which LMS is more appropriate for you, depending on your Content Management System (Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, etc…)

The 5 most popular Learning Management System (LMS)

1. Thinkific

This platform has become very popular this year (2020). It is very easy to set up and has a very clean layout.

This is the only platform that has a free plan and no commission fee, which is a smart marketing strategy. They engage many people who set up their course with the free plan, and often upgrade later to a paid plan to get more functionalities.

One of the best things about Thinkific is that they don’t charge any fee per transaction.

But if you are keen to sell your course with a marketing strategy you should consider upgrading your plan to at least the Basic plan that is U$39 per month if you pay annually.

This plan will allow you to create coupon codes and integrate with Newsletter services.

I always recommend this option to those who have a website on Wix. If you don’t have a website and need one just to offer your courses, Thinkific allows you to create a custom landing page and use your own domain name eg. Juliaferrari.com for the landing page, and juliaferrari/courses for your courses page.

2. LearnDash

LearnDash is an LMS to install exclusively on WordPress websites. This platform is installed into WordPress like a plugin, and it is integrated with your website.

LearnDash requires a license of U$169 and it has the advantage of giving the same functionalities of the most expensive plans of other platforms.

You can create unlimited courses, create discount vouchers, schedule pricing sales, integrate with newsletters and others marketing tools. You can also sell your courses as bundle.

Another advantage of using LearnDash is that all your traffic is kept on your website, so having more traffic helps your website rank higher on Google.

The main disadvantage of LearnDash is that it’s difficult to set up properly the first time, but don’t worry I can do that for you. Creating courses after the initial setup is very simple, especially if you are familiar with WordPress CMS. If you are interested in using LearnDash, you can check my package here, which includes the LearnDash license and my work to set it up, for a very convenient price.

3. Teachable

Teachable is another platform that has became very popular to host courses. The functionalities offered on the basic plan are similar to Thinkific basic plan. These include coupon codes and third-party marketing tool integrations. It also includes integrated email marketing. The basic plan is U$29 per month if you pay annually, but there is a 5% transaction fee with this plan.

4. Squarespace Members Area

Squarespace recently launched a Members Area, so if you are using this platform for your website you can consider this option to host your course.

This only works in addition to any Squarespace plan and the Members plans start from £7 per month billed annually. There is a transaction fee between 1% and 7% depending on the plan. The number of memberships is limited, e.g. the basic plan allows only 1 membership, which means that you only can have a course.

Like LearnDash, it has the advantage that it’s integrated with your website, so if you feel confident managing Squarespace you can go with this option.

5. Other platforms

There are other LMS out there. One of them is Kajabi. In my opinion, this platform is pricey compared to the others as their plans start from U$119 and this plan is limited to only 3 products.

Podia is another platform with a competitive price user friendly interface. They offer a 14 days trial and no credit card is needed.

LearnPress is another LMS that can only be installed on a WordPress website. It has a free version which limited functionalities. The license for the paid version is much more expensive than LearnDash, unless you buy a package with one of their own themes.

If you need further guidance about setting up your website generally then why not book a 90 mins coaching session with me? We can create an agenda based on your needs and queries. Simply sign up here.

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Julia Ferrari

Web designer, focusing on helping freelancers and small businesses build their websites.

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