Essential Tools to Create a Full-Fledged E-Learning Platform with LearnDash

When you’re just dipping your toe into e-learning, The popular LearnDash LMS will truly be your friend.

Combined with the effortless usability of WordPress, LearnDash helps you easily put your courses online and get your e-learning website off the ground. But this is not where it ends…

If your aim is to create a truly amazing, full-scale e-learning platform with hundreds of learners, you’re going to need help.

Right from finding the right hosting provider, to making your website visually appealing and optimizing your it for speed. Thankfully, there are a lot of tools that make your job easier, and in this article, we explore them all.

But, if you’re looking for something specific, do feel free to skip to any section :

  1. Hosting
  2. Building your LearnDash LMS
  3. Selling your LearnDash courses
  4. Optimizing your LearnDash LMS
  5. Secure your LearnDash LMS
  6. Marketing your LearnDash courses
  7. Scaling your LearnDash LMS

Let’s jump right into it.

Learndash Hosting

As with any WordPress website, you need to host your Learndash site to make it available to the public. You also need to get a unique domain name for your website. For most starter businesses, self-hosting isn’t a very feasible option. The best thing to do here is to find a third-party hosting provider. They provide perks like regular backups, SSL certificates, and a CDN. And they make it easier to scale your e-learning website down the line.

Most popular hosting providers offer WordPress hosting. This means you can choose from plans specifically meant to help set up and host WordPress websites. Because Learndash is a WordPress LMS, this is ideal for your needs.

Here are a few options you can consider:

Bluehost

Bluehost is a highly recommended hosting platform for WordPress websites, including Learndash sites. It offers a dedicated plan for WordPress hosting which comes with automatic WordPress install and updates, a free SSL certificate, and your own domain name. If you already have a website set up, Bluehost also offers migration services. If you’re just starting out you can also consider getting the Shared Hosting plan and then get dedicated hosting as you grow.

Indepth Bluehost reviews.

SiteGround

SiteGround is another great hosting provider that offers website building and management services. It offers a Managed WordPress Hosting plan you can opt for that offers daily backups and a free CDN. If you’re looking for scalability, go for the cloud-based hosting solution. Siteground also offers help with building or migrating your website.

Siteground performance reviews.

LiquidWeb

Among other things, LiquidWeb offers a managed hosting application specifically catered to WordPress. With this plan, LiquidWeb takes care of migrating your website, optimizing your website’s performance and updating all your plugins. It also comes with all-time accessible customer support if you run into any trouble setting it up.

Why should you use a third-party hosting provider instead of WordPress hosting?

With WordPress website, you do have the option of using WordPress.com to build and host your website. This means you don’t have to find a hosting provider and can have a website ready to go in a matter of minutes.

While that sounds like the easy option, it is a wiser move to set up your own website.You have more freedom and control over your website. It gives you the flexibility to customize your website to your taste. Plus, you can monetize it, have your personal domain name, and not have to deal with ads – all premium features if you use WordPress.com. 

It takes more effort on your part, but you end up with exactly what you want out of your website, at a lower cost. And it’s definitely better in the long run.

Building your LearnDash LMS

Now, with LearnDash you can certainly turn your content into structured online courses. And also take care of other functionalities like quizzes and payments. But a full-scale e-learning platform goes beyond that. Let’s discuss a few tools that help you enhance the look of your LMS, add a few essential features, and take your LMS to the next level.

ELumine

In addition to having quality content, your LMS also needs to look appealing. It should appear and feel like it represents your values and aesthetics. Needless to say, a LearnDash Theme is an important addition to your LMS. Elumine offers pre-built demos that you can install with one click and have up and running in no time. Use the customizing options, fast-loading layouts and more to tweak everything to your liking.

Elementor

Elementor is now the most popular Page Builder for WordPress websites. And luckily, compatible with LearnDash. You can use it to edit your courses, lessons, topics, or quizzes and have more control over the overall design of your e-learning website. You can also add LearnDash widgets to your pages. And LearnDash Blocks can be added using shortcodes. However, do note that you cannot edit dynamic LearnDash content with Elementor. 

CourseGrid

The quintessential LearnDash Add on to help with design and layout. CourseGrid helps learners easily find their desired course by organizing them into ordered columns to make a course library. You can add the featured image of your choice along with a description and a CTA button.  You can also choose what order the courses are displayed, and learners have the option to filter courses based on categories or tags.

bbPress

With online learning students often lose out on the classroom discussion environment. Creating bbPress forums and linking them to your courses will help students easily interact, put forward their questions to the class, and help each other out. More on BBPress.

Gravity Forms

Forms are necessary for a couple of activities. For example student registration and filling out payment information. You might also like to have a ‘Contact Us’ form on your website. With Gravity Forms, you can create stunning forms easily for all. Gravity Forms is one of many form plugins for WordPress, but it has a brilliant reputation for it’s incredible flexibility and advanced functionality.

Selling your LearnDash courses

Monetizing your LearnDash courses is an essential part of building a full-fledged e-learning platform. There are a number of ways you can go about it. You can have learners pay to access your course.  You can create a course catalog that is essentially a marketplace. Alternatively, you can also sell Memberships that give users access to the complete course content.

Let’s take a look.

Stripe Payment Integration

LearnDash comes with inbuilt support for payments with PayPal. However, it’s always a good idea to provide an alternate payment method to your users. Stripe is a popular payment solution widely used and available in numerous countries around the world. The Stripe Payment Integration add-on makes it easy to add it to your LMS.

WooCommerce

You can also sell courses by creating a course catalog using WooCommerce. The advantage here is that you get all the powerful functionalities of WooCommerce and have full control over how you sell your courses. This is a good option if you want to include local payment gateways and have more control over the process. You can also sell physical products like exercise books, equipment that complement your courses.

Paid Memberships Pro

LearnDash has inbuilt support for creating Membership websites that you can use to sell Membership plans. But there are a couple of advantages of using a membership plugin. With Paid Memberships Pro you can create different member levels at different prices and offer access to your content accordingly. You can also bundle courses and offer discounts to increase your revenue. In addition to that, you can extend functionalities using a library of 65+ add ons.

Optimizing your LearnDash LMS

If your aim is to create an e-learning platform with hundreds of courses and an abundance of learners you also need to have the infrastructure in place to handle all of it. You need to optimize your website so that it runs smoothly and loads quickly. And ensures a good learning experience for every user. Website speed is also an important factor when it comes to SEO and rankings on SERPs.

KeyCDN

A Content Delivery Network is a network of servers around the world that store your content. When requested, content is fetched from the server nearest to the user ensuring as fast load time as possible. KeyCDN is a reliable CDN with powerful features that ensure that website performance is optimal for users anywhere in the world.

WP-Optimize

Getting a caching plugin is a no-brainer if you’re looking to optimize your website performance. Caching your website content not only ensures that your pages load quickly, but it also reduces the load on your servers. WP-Optimize preloads your cache so it’s always ready to go, offers browsers caching and device-specific caching for optimal performance. In addition to that it also clears your database of unnecessary data and compresses your images to ensure fast website load speed.

Secure your LearnDash LMS

WordPress security is something that should always be on your checklist when setting up a website.  Especially since e-learning websites hold sensitive user information in addition to all your unique course content. Security breaches and hacks are more common than you think. So it’s always good to be prepared

UpdraftPlus

Regular backups of your WordPress website are a must. It is your insurance in case anything happens to your website. Now, most hosting providers take backups of your website and you can just leave it at that. But with a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus, you can get one-click restores, scheduled backups, cloning and migration services, and more. So it is a good option to explore.

WordFence

In the interest of preventing any attacks in the first place, installing a good security plugin is a good idea. WordFence is one of the most widely used security plugins. It comes with a powerful firewall to keep out malicious attackers as well as periodically scans your website for any unusual activity. The ‘threat defense feed’ is regularly updated with any new threats that crop up.  It keeps your website safe and all your data secure.  

Marketing your LearnDash courses

Marketing is just as important to sell your courses as having good quality content. It’s important to ensure that your courses show up on search pages to drive new learners to your e-learning site. It is also important that you retain your existing audience, and analyze your website data and apply those insights to grow your business.

Yoast SEO

SEO is not something to be overlooked. Search engine result pages are where your learners discover your courses. So it’s essential to make sure you rank for the correct keywords and rank high on result pages. Yoast SEO is almost synonymous with SEO at this point and can help you reach your full SEO potential.

MailPoet

Retaining your existing audience is just as important as getting new learners to your website. Sending out regular newsletters to this audience, updating them about the new courses, or sending them post-course completion activities and tips can help bring in revenue and grow your business. Mailpoet is one of the most popular WordPress newsletter plugins that helps you create stunning newsletter templates and manage your email lists efficiently.

Pro Panel

The reporting and analytics plugin, Pro Panel, can help you get a better understanding of how your e-learning platform is performing. You can use the dashboard to see a complete breakdown of where learners are in their courses, their assignments, quiz results, and more. You can also see which learners haven’t completed their courses and create separate email lists to send them emails nudging them to get back to their course.

Scaling your LearnDash LMS

You can extend your e-learning platform to include multiple instructors with their own courses, collaborative projects, and hundreds of learners.  Let’s discuss a couple of tools that can help you create and manage such an e-learning website.

Instructor Role

In most cases, users can only sign up as students. With Instructor Role, users can also have the option to sign up as an instructor. Essentially help you create a course marketplace like Udemy where different educators can be a part of your elearning platform. And teach and sell their own courses. They will be able to access a limited customizable admin area that they can use to create and manage their courses. You can even allow multiple instructors to collaborate on a project. And set a commission percentage for each instructor.

LearnDash Group Registration

It allows users to register a big group of students in bulk. Group registration is especially useful when you need to enroll an entire class of students together. You can enable automatic creation of groups whenever a course is purchased in bulk and elect a group leader that can manage that group. Group Leaders can also manage enrollment and track progress reports.

Uncanny LearnDash Enrollment Codes

As the number of learners starts to grow it gets harder to keep track of how many students are enrolled in which course. And track overall progress. As a solution, Uncanny Learndash Codes allows you to generate a list of enrollment codes that are needed to access the course. And an instructor can assign an enrollment code to each student. Enrollment codes can also be generated on the purchase of a course. So you can easily track everything on your website.

Parting Words

Creating a full-fledged LearnDash LMS is not an easy task. It’s a one-step-at-a-time process and can take time. We’ve listed a lot of tools in this article, but you’re the one who understands your needs best.  We just hope this article gives you a nudge in the right direction. Be sure to keep in mind your goals for your e-learning website and continuously upgrade your LMS as you grow.

If you would like to recommend any other tool or have any questions,  please do leave us a comment!

Samrat is a WordPress enthusiast & a hobbyist photographer. He loves the WordPress Community and is inspired by it. Currently, he handles Partnerships & Relations at WisdmLabs - a platform for all things WordPress.

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