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LearnDash Expert Advice: How Technical Do I Need to Be to Use LearnDash?

LearnDash Developer and Expert / Great Resource

When business owners are considering LearnDash as their online course platform, they often ask me, "Do I need to hire a developer to build my course?"

The answer is, "It depends." Let me explain.

I did want to acknowledge that I got a lot of the material for this article from a LearnDash article by Addison Moore. You can see that at "The Top 9 Things You Need to Know about LearnDash."

You can set up and configure LearnDash for launching your online course without having to write a single line of code. However, if you are NOT technically savvy or if you are intimidated by technology, you may want to tap someone else's expertise to make the best use of the platform. For the average person with some minimal technical skills, LearnDash provides some very good tutorials for someone who is willing to invest in learning the platform.

Given that, let me explain a few things because LearnDash really can be a great solution even if you are NOT very technical.


1. Is Learning LearnDash the Best Use of Your Time?

I never like to tell people that can't do something. That's not fair. LearnDash provides a good number of tutorial. It is definitely "learnable" for the average person. You really should be asking yourself regardless of your technical skills, "Is learning LearnDash the best use of my time?" Even you if you do have the technical aptitude, is this something you should be doing or is this something best delegated to someone else?

2. LearnDash Requires Knowledge of Wordpress

LearnDash is implemented as a Wordpress plugin. LearnDash itself is straightforward. It's not that complicated. To describe LearnDash in the most simple of ways, LearnDash is a way to build a course. A LearnDash course is much like a Wordpress post or page. You then need to create lessons that make up the course. Adding lessons is similar to adding Wordpress posts or pages. You then need to assign the lessons to the course.

It really is that simple.

However, Wordpress is more involved. It's a powerful and flexible platform. This makes LearnDash that much more useful as an online course building platoform. Wordpress, being more involved, does take some learning. It could be that Wordpress is what becomes the challenge.

3. There Are Many Options for Getting Your WordPress Site Built

If you lack Wordpress skills, that doesn't have to be what holds you back. There are so many ways to find good Wordpress talent to give you a hand. My team and I specializes in building LearnDash sites. Feel free to contact us to discuss getting us to work with you. There are sites like Upwork where people with different types of skills promote themselves. You'll find there are many people there with Wordpress skills of all types.

If you are that non-technical business person, consider hiring someone to do that for you. They can get Wordpress and LearnDash installed and configured for you. They may also be able to add your online course content to LearnDash for you. They can also help you get your e-commerce features set up. (Again, let us know. We specialize in this sort of work.).

Hiring someone may seem like a deal breaker when you are on a tight budget. You may find that spending money to get some professional help may be money well spent. A lot of people avoid taking on LearnDash path because they see a hosted LMS solution like Udemy, Kajabi, Thinktific or one of the other solution as a less expensive option. It may surprise you to learn that there are some hidden costs that come with taking this approach.

Let's go over a few of these so you are aware before you discount LearnDash as the solution for you.

The Pros and Cons of using a Hosted LMS Versus LearnDash for Non-Technical Types

When we talk about “hosted” LMSs, what we mean is solutions that you sign up for that give you all you need for your online course. With LearnDash, you have to set hosting. You have to purchase and configure you domain. You have to WordPress and LearnDash. With a hosted platform, that all gets done for you.

That can sound like quite a deal, but if may not be. Here’s why I think business owners looking to launch their course are better served with a self-hosted option.

1. Regardless of the Platform You Select, You Will Need Some Technical Proficiency.

If you think you are going to launch your online course with zero technical effort, you are fooling yourself. You are designing a course for people on the Internet to learn what you teach. You are going to need to know some of the basics. That's just something you will have to accept.

Whether you choose to sign up for a hosted or a self-hosted LMS, there will be a baseline level of computer skills needed to run your course. The real question is how much more than the baseline do you need to run LearnDash? And the truth is that, after the initial setup, the difference is marginal.

2. Hosted LMSs come at the expense of control and ownership.

Most online instructors start off their careers because they want to have their own business. They want to run their own course in a way that best serves their students, and eventually, that will probably entail some customizations. What they don’t want is to hand over their course to a platform that will limit how they can teach their students.

For instance, Udemy isn’t even a platform for independent instructors. Instead, they let instructors become teachers on the platform, where they have access to a marketplace of students, but at the expense of their independent brand.

For Teachable and Thinkific, the cost of losing control is more subtle. Many instructors may not notice as they first begin to set up their courses, but the moment they want to do something that doesn’t fit within the constraints of the LMS, they’re out of options. So, if you have any dreams of offering a truly custom learning experience, these solutions are straight out.

3. Most hosted options don’t stay “free” for long.

Cost is another issue you’ll soon run into with hosted LMSs. While LearnDash users have to purchase a license (and renew annually to continue receiving updates and support), the cost of the license is far less than the monthly fees of hosted LMSs.

For instance, Teachable’s cheapest plan costs $29/mo., plus a 5% charge on your course sales. And that plan comes with plenty of limitations as well, including Teachable branding on your site and a lack of gradable quizzes.

Thinkific is even more restrictive. While they offer a free plan, it’s limited to only three courses. The next step up costs $50/mo. for the privileges being able to email your own learners and schedule drip content.

With a WordPress site, you will still have your own costs to manage, including hosting and whatever licenses you buy for other premium plugins. But those will be purchasing decisions under your control, and none of LearnDash’s licensing options get between you and your learners or restrict the way you can deliver content.

Mastering LearnDash is worth the investment.

As we said before, you don’t have to be a developer to use LearnDash. You will have to handle some technical setup details when you first start, but for most of our users, that’s a minor hurdle to overcome. Once LearnDash is set up, most of our users report it as being one of the most user-friendly options available on the market—even if you can’t code.

And if you do run into support troubles and need someone to help you out, that’s what our team is for. We’ve got your back.