The LearnDash Expert Solution Gets You So Much More
A customer who was considering us to help him with his online course had selected LearnDash as their Learning Management Solution (LMS). He was asking what I thought of LearnDash/Wordpress versus going with Software as a Service (SAAS) LMS. He had considered Thinktific and wanted to get my thoughts on his decision.
I want to be upfront and tell you I run a LearnDash expert development team. We've been using LearnDash since the platform launched. We know it well and we use it in over 85% of the online course sites we build. So we lean hard in that direction. It wasn't a knee jerk call that led to that decision. Let me share with you why we have become LearnDash experts and focused our business on servicing the needs business owner using that platform. Here's some of our thinking so you can make the best decision when selecting the right platform for you.
LearnDash Expert and His Assumptions
My assumption, first of all, is you are not a large corporate learning organization or a university needing to manage their student learning on a large scale. If that is the case, there may be other platforms you should consider. You are instead as small business owners with expertise in your subject matter and you want to launch an online course. You may have 1 to several dozen courses you want to make available. You want to offer this in addition to the in-person / one-on-one training or consulting you do now.
LearnDash Expert and His Why He Decided Like He Did
Let me start with a story.
Twelve years ago a mentor of mine referred me to a customer he wanted me to service for him. They had tons and tons of content they already made available in different formats to their audience. They were interested in launching a new course, way before LearnDash was an option, and we had two options for them. Option one was a Wordpress based solution. The other took an SAAS approach. One required that you know Wordpress well. The other only required that you learn their platform.
I wasn't nearly as experienced back then as I am now, but I did know this customer had aggressive growth plans. They didn't want something that just worked. They wanted something had the flexibility to support their growing business needs. They had heard from another "expert" that the SAAS approach was the one they should select. So despite our recommendations, they asked us to use that platform to build their course.
The course was spectacular. We used that SAAS platform very nicely and put to work everything it had to offer. The graphics and the gizmos we included in the program far exceeded their expectations. They were very satisfied with their initial release.
As I expected, this client quickly wanted us to add additional features to their online courses. That included requirements the SAAS platform would not support. SAAS platforms back then and today typically include the features needed by 70% to 80% of the market. They have good coverage of the general requirements requested by most, but don't always to a good job covering edge cases wanted less frequently by their users. That was our situation. And it seemed like every time they requested an enhancement, our answer was, "Your platform won't support that."
That answer got really old and though we had a very long and positive relationship with that customer, that experience taught me a lesson. SAAS platforms like Thinkific, Kajabi and others are good ones. They typically are easy to use especially if you've never built an online course. Going that route typically enalbes you to avoid hiring a LearnDash expert team like ours at the start. If you have a technical slant, tou can do a lot more on your own before you have to bring on more experienced talent.
What can and often does happen is you get to a point where the platform will not support you with a requirement you must have. Then you have no but to start over again on another platform.
LearnDash is not a difficult platform to use. Wordpress, upon which it is built, isn't either. Wordpress is a platform that is best used by someone who has experience using it. We have built very, very simple sites with it and had great results for customers at a very reasonable prices. LearnDash doesn't have every feature you could ever need, but that isn't a limitation. There's a very strong add-on market that offers features LearnDash does not. Vendors like WisdmLabs (that is spelled correctly) and Uncanny Owl are examples of good ones.
If that's now enough, Wordpress is a very popular platform supported by a strong community of developers. It is designed so someone with experience can enhance and customize it to do just about anything you want it to do. You may not need that sort of power and flexibility from the start, but that is all there so in the future, as your needs change, you can tap into those with little fear of having to ever start all over again.
I'm not saying that LearnDash is the solution for everyone. There are others that also build on Wordpress and provide similar features. This approach of building on top of Wordpress gets you so much. In my humble opinion, the positives to working in this environment far outweigh the negatives. It's very unlikely you will look back and say, "Going with Wordpress and LearnDash was a bad decision."
Hope this helps!