When Is LearnDash the Knockdown Best LMS Platform for Me?
Since my team and I are LearnDash expert online course builders, we often get asked, “When should I use LearnDash versus something else?” Since we’ve been doing this coming up on 7 years, we understand LearnDash and we understand the available options.
LearnDash is not the right solution for everyone. Not every small business owner needs it. There are times when there are much better options.
In this article, I give an overview of different options pointing out when some of these are better than others. I’ve made a point to include information small business owners can use to select the platform that is best for them and their specific situation.
Solution #1 – Go Really Simple
I run into a good number of course builders that are just starting. They don’t really have a course. They have a really good idea that needs to be vetted. They come out and ask us to work with them on a LearnDash site.
To me, this often sounds like someone requesting an 18 wheeler truck designed for moving huge loads across the country when what they need is a short bed pickup to move a couch across town. LearnDash is an overkill for what they need and getting it launched is much more expensive and time-consuming than necessary.
For people in this situation, we offer our Breakthrough Course Selling System course so people can evaluate and confirm demand for their course. It gives you a step-by-step process to gather market intelligence and feedback from potential customers. It’s methodical and designed to launch a minimally viable product (MVP) to sell as a beta of the site they will eventually launch.
What is it these folks need for this site? In order to get that launched quickly with something professional that requires minimal effort, you can use something as simple as a private Facebook group. Configured correctly, it can be used to teach the program, keep resources so students can easily access them, and vet out their program.
Keep in mind that discoveries made during this exercise can change what you need for the learning platform. That might uncover trends that pull you away from LearnDash to something better suited for what it is you need.
So the solution is to use a Facebook group. Many people frown when I mention Facebook, but if used properly, it is the best way to launch a beta version of your course with live Zoom presentations that get your course content to learners that really appreciate it regardless of the platform.
Solution #2 – Solution Hosted Learning Platforms
There are well-known platforms that make your course materials available to them. They are course-centric offering a few additional features. Examples of these are Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda), SkillShare, and Udemy.
These tend to be used by course builders with lower-priced offerings that are in demand by large general audiences. You can use these to sell something inexpensive first to establish credibility. Then you sell your customers on a higher-priced offer.
A second class of platforms limits themselves to course building. They are like LearnDash in that you can use them to make your courses available to your audience. They don’t come with audiences like the previous ones.
These hosting solutions typically have a monthly price. They are hosted solutions version ones you host yourself in your hosting environment. Examples of these are Kajabi, Thinkific and Teachable. There are many others each with its own features.
A recent offering that’s been growing nicely is Mighty Networks. They provide community features in addition to the course building. This can be valuable if you need community features and can get your audience to use it versus something like a private Facebook group. It enables your learners to communicate with each other. I’m seeing more and more platforms adding community as a feature to their solutions.
Do the research and make sure you fully understand what these platforms offer. They tend to be easy to use with tutorials showing you how best to use them. The price tends to be reasonable. If you find one that has everything you need, they may be a good option for you.
My one warning is that if/when you need a feature the platform you selected doesn’t offer, you are stuck. You have to pull your course from the platform and take on another project.
This is a very real downside.
Solutions #3 – LearnDash and Supporting Solutions
LearnDash is a plugin that adds a learning management feature to your Wordpress site. It integrates well with BuddyBoss if you are wanting to include a community in your learning environment. There is a large third-party add-on market that offers features not native to LearnDash.
It’s important to point out the benefits offered by Wordpress. You can do just about anything with it. It’s a very flexible website development platform that, in addition to LearnDash, enables you to offer just about anything you may want without having to do any programming.
The upside is flexibility. The downside is it’s more complicated than the previous approaches I have discussed. My recommendation is to work with a team that can set you with a LearnDash environment making use of best practices. If you want to be self-sufficient, having a strong understanding of Wordpress is required. If you have that, you have most of the knowledge you will need.
We do have customers that started on one of the hosted platforms and later move to LearnDash. That works as long as that was part of your original plan and not something that was thrusted upon you because your platform didn’t have the features you needed.
Rarely do I run into customers that make use of LearnDash and then run into a roadblock. There are too many tools that integrate with Wordpress, including strong CRM systems like ActiveCampaign and Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) that give you even more power than what you would have had otherwise.
Hope this helps!