For many people, one of the biggest decisions they’ll make is choosing the right online course platform to

Is it better to self-host on your own website, use a standalone website or use an external hosting platform?

Should you buy a WordPress plugin or a theme?

And how much will it all cost? And even more important, how long will it take to set up?

These questions will all influence your decision making!

Today’s post looks at the current WordPress themes you can buy to turn your website into a learning management system or LMS. Naturally, I can’t mention all of themIn the academic industry, using an LMS is quite common and many LMS themes were originally created for colleges and universities.

These LMS’s are very powerful as they’re recording and managing data for hundreds of students.

What exactly is a learning management system?

An LMS is a piece of software that allows you to create, manage and deliver online courses.  By installing an LMS theme, you can turn your WordPress site into a very powerful e-learning platform.

Ok so let’s start!

Creating  a standalone course site

I am going to recommend that you use a separate site for your online courses. WordPress Memberium plugin developer David Bullock actually recommended I do this and it makes a whole lot of sense. I’ve also seen a few celeb bloggers who’ve done the same and I think it works well.

This way you can use your existing blog or website for marketing, sales and SEO.

Features of a good lms theme

So before you invest in a WordPress LMS theme, you’ll want to check that it can do the following:

  • create a unique domain or sub-domain
  • enable you to customise the theme colours and branding
  • upload all forms of content such as video, slides, audio and graphics
  • create multiple types of courses, student levels (free and paid) and groups
  • manage users, progress and completion rates
  • send alerts and notifications
  • send messages to and from students
  • integrate with payment gateways (you will need to have a SSL certificate to accept credit card payments)
  • integrate with selected autoresponders
  • integrates with membership plugins

Ok, so now let’s jump into the popular LMS themes. And no they’re not in order of preference.

I’ve highlighted the main features but for a more in depth look at each, click on the header links.

#1 COURSE CATS

Created by edupreneur David Siteman Garland, this theme was created for us folk that just want to sell online courses but comes with a premium price tag.

Cool features:

  • great looking front end (the part the customer interacts with)
  • full customisation for courses and sales pages
  • easy to use interface (the back end you use)
  • unlimited courses
  • integrates with membership plugins
  • integrates with payment gateways
  • integrates with the main autoresponders
  • video tutorials & documentation
  • email support

Downsides:

  • no reporting or stats
  • requires a few additional plugins
  • it’s pricey

Cost: 

$467 per year or $49 per month

#2 ACADEMY THEME 

This theme is developed by Themex and has been around for a few years. It’s used largely by colleges and corporate businesses.

Cool features:

  • easy to use interface
  • easy to use back-end
  • responsive theme
  • student profiles and progress
  • full customisation for courses and lessons
  • full customisation for fonts, colours, pages, layouts
  • integrates with woocommerce
  • unlimited courses
  • google analytics integration
  • awesome support

Downsides:

  • requires a membership plugin to protect content
  • no integration with autoresponders (requires a plugin)
  • no messaging functionality
  • no sales or landing pages

Cost:

$59 with six months support

#3 WPLMS THEME

This theme has been created by Vibe Themes and has been sold 9641 times.

Cool features:

  • built on Buddypress platform which offers a host of social functions such as user groups, private messages, notifications etc.
  • front end course creation
  • course activity tracking
  • unlimited courses
  • documentation
  • great design, a variety of layouts, styles and headers
  • instructor dashboard
  • student dashboard
  • course directory
  • drip feed option and email templates
  • woocommerce integration

Downsides:

  • requires membership plugin
  • no integration with autoresponders
  • can take a bit of time to set up

Cost:

$64

#4 LMS WORDPRESS THEME

Developed by Design Themes in 2014 so newer to the market.

Cool features:

  • an awesome page or content builder
  • events calendar
  • integrates with sensei and woocommerce plugins
  • multiple languages
  • student dashboard
  • demo installation
  • responsive theme
  • unlimited courses
  • course templates
  • landing pages
  • SEO ready
  • integrates with mailchimp
  • integrates with woocommerce or paypal

Downsides:

  • requires the Sensei plugin
  • requires a membership plugin for protection

Cost:

$59 with six months support

#5 CLEVER COURSE LMS

Developed by Good  Layers in 2014 so also a newer entrant.

Cool features:

  • create unlimited courses
  • integrates with payment gateways
  • nice user interface
  • blog page
  • instructor profile
  • student profile
  • easy to use back-end
  • course progress line
  • page builder
  • landing page template

Downsides:

  • requires external plugins to integrate with autoresponders
  • doesn’t integrate with membership plugins which is a huge limitation
  • also requires self hosted videos to protect your content

Cost:

$59 with six months support

Want to learn even more? Then download my free guide to creating online courses now.

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