Choosing between LearnDash vs LifterLMS for your next LMS project in WordPress? We understand it’s a tough choice and that is exactly why we need to explore both, LearnDash and LifterLMS to see which LMS plugin is better suited to your needs.
The LMS industry is now very lucrative and many industry experts are now selling courses online and making a ton of money in the process. If you’re an expert in a particular field, or simply want to invest in the LMS business, we would say that it’s an absolutely brilliant idea. Now many people want to create and sell online courses, but think that they need a lot of technical skills to do it. But with the power of WordPress and its plugins, you can create your very own eLearning platform all by yourself.
Now the question is, which LMS plugin should you choose? There are various LMS plugins in the market which are really great. But today we have 2 LMS plugins in our hands, LearnDash vs LifterLMS. Both of these plugins are very popular and top in the industry. So you won’t be making any terrible decisions at all. But we’re gonna look at which one is best for you. So let’s start our LearnDash vs LifterLMS post!
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LearnDash vs LifterLMS – What are we looking at
We’ve done many comparison posts on LMS plugins in the past. And if you’ve read any of those posts, you know that we’re not trying to find which plugin is better than the other one. We are simply trying to look at the strengths and uniqueness of both plugins. Because every LMS plugin has its pros and cons which makes them special.
Keeping that in mind, in this article, we are comparing between LearnDash vs LifterLMS. Let’s first talk a little bit about LearnDash. While the majority of people consider LearnDash to be the best LMS plugin, some people have a different opinion. LearnDash is the first LMS plugin in the market. It was released back in 2013 and even after all these years, it has managed to remain at the top. Many top companies use LearnDash for their online education platform.
As for LifterLMS, it was launched in 2014, just one year after LearnDash. Many consider LifterLMS to be the no.1 LMS plugin for WordPress, and why wouldn’t they? It’s easy to use, easy to understand, and flexible. Once you understand how it works, you can create and publish courses with ease.
LearnDash vs LifterLMS, this is going to be an interesting comparison. Previously we did a Tutor LMS vs LifterLMS comparison, and we are going to follow a similar strategy for this post as well. We are going to look at the following points in order to make a good comparison:
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- Top LMS Features
- Installation and tutorials
- The Course builder, lessons, quizzes, topics, etc.
- Reports and Analytics
- Support and Documentation
And that’s what we’re planning to do. We are going to create 2 eLearning sites in WordPress using LearnDash for one, and LifterLMS for the other. While doing that, we’ll point out the above-mentioned points and explore what both of these giants have to offer.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s start our LearnDash vs LIfterLMS post!
Introduction to LearnDash
If you’ve been around the LMS business for a while, then you must’ve heard about LearnDash. LearnDash is one of the most popular LMS plugins in the market today. It is also the first LMS plugin for WordPress which was launched in the year 2013. With the collaboration of various industry experts, LearnDash is designed to create professional and engaging online courses.
LearnDash is also used by the University of Florida, Yoast, Keap, Digital Marketer, and much more. LearnDash is built with all the modern features that you need to build your online courses. Not only can you build your courses, but you can also sell those courses and make a complete eLearning platform.
Usually, all LMS plugins are outfitted with a large number of features. These features are essential if you want to run an online education platform. From course creation to quiz builder, to assignments, and finally certification at the end of the course. LearnDash has all these features you’re looking for. If you want to know more about Learndash specifically, check out our LearnDash review post. But now we’re simply going to look at the various points of LearnDash in order to compare it with LifterLMS.
Top LMS Features
The first and foremost thing everybody looks at is the LMS features. You might be wondering what LMS features does LearnDash provide. Well, there are tons of features, but let’s look at a few of these:
- Drag-and-drop course builder
- Video Lessons
- Wista, YouTube, and Vimeo playlists to course builder
- Quiz builder with multiple quiz categories
- Content Drip system
- Certificate builder
- Any pricing model (One time sale, subscription, membership, bundles, etc.)
- Group access
- Any Payment Gateway (PayPal, Stripe, 2Checkout, and 300+ others with WooCommerce)
- Automated renewal notification
- Robust User management
The list goes on. LearnDash is constantly being updated and more features are being added to it. That is why this plugin has always remained a favorite for a long time. Because as the eLearning industry evolves, so must you, and LearnDash gives you those opportunities.
Now the question you might be asking is, almost all top-tier LMS plugins provide these (above-mentioned) features, what sets LearnDash apart?
The thing that sets LearnDash apart is its community. Yes, LearnDash has one of the largest active online communities of online course creators, educational institutes, and WordPress professionals. Therefore, you will be in good company.
So when speaking about features, LearnDash already consists of all the LMS features you might need to create and sell your online courses through your WordPress website. But in addition to that, LearnDash has a large community that discusses how you can master your craft and sell more courses to more people. This is where LearnDash shines.
The LearnDash Experience
We’ve talked a bit about some of the interesting features of LearnDash. It is still important to magnify some of the core features as well. We believe, one of the most important things about an LMS plugin is the installation and tutorials.
An LMS plugin can be very intimidating at first with all its features and functionalities. For this reason, a good LMS plugin should have easy installation and tutorials to guide you. Once you understand how the plugin works, and how you can create courses and publish them on your website, you’re good to go. A good LMS plugin should guide its user in such a way, that the user doesn’t get intimidated and feels more comfortable with the plugin.
Installation: The Setup Wizard
As soon as you install LearnDash, you’re greeted with a setup wizard. This setup wizard helps you install your eLearning site. It simply asks you what kind of online learning platform you want to build. You simply choose your settings and the setup wizard does the rest. Let’s take a look at this setup wizard.
The welcome screen is clean and only has 2 buttons. To launch the setup wizard, we can simply click on the ‘Get Started’ button. You can also click on the ‘Dismiss Setup Wizard’ button to close the wizard, but if you’re a beginner, it’s best to go through the setup process. We’re not going through the entire setup process, but let’s look at a few more steps.
The first thing the setup wizard asks you is what kind of eLearning website you’re trying to make. It gives you four options, Simple, Certificate, Timed, and Group Courses. You can choose all four of these categories. Based on what you select, these features will be added to your WordPress website.
Finally, you will have the option to choose your payment gateway if you want to charge for your courses. You can choose Stripe or WooCommerce.
In the next step, you will be able to look at your setup summary. You can change some of the options here if you want. After clicking on the “Save and Continue” button the setup wizard will install all the requirements and your WordPress website will be ready to use.
This is what we’re talking about. A simple and easy-to-follow installation process. You simply select the type of course you want and your payment gateway, and within a few seconds, your LMS website is ready. There’s a way to relaunch the setup wizard as well. These settings can also be changed manually so no worries there.
Tutorials: The LearnDash BootCamp
Now that the setup is out of the way, what we need is a guiding hand to show us how things work in LearnDash. If you have experience with LMS plugins, then you might not need the tutorials, but a little help would be nice.
You will find the LearnDash Bootcamp will have all the tutorials you need to get started with LearnDash. When you get back to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see a small notification on the upper left corner of the screen.
All these tutorials are available on YouTube and you can watch to learn about this plugin. These small video players are also seen on several sections of the plugin. For example, if you click on ‘Courses’ you’ll find a tutorial on courses from the Bootcamp. LearnDash also has online documentation that you can take help from if you’re stuck.
All of these tutorials are there to help you understand the fundamentals of LearnDash. You might not need to watch all of these videos at once. Only when you get stuck, you can watch the tutorials. So, it’s a good way to help you get acquainted with LearnDash.
Every LMS plugin has a course builder. Using this course builder, you can create your course, add lessons and topics to your course, add quizzes, and much more. However, we will talk about the quiz builder separately. First, let’s talk about the lesson and topic builder.
Lesson and Topic builder
To access LearnDash’s course builder, first we clicked on the “Courses” option from our WordPress dashboard. As we didn’t have any courses, we need to click the “Add New” button. This will open up the LearnDash course builder.
On the top bar, there are 3 tabs. The first tab is called the Course page. This is where you can give your course a name, give a description, add a featured image, etc. This is basically the introduction to your course.
The next tab is the ‘Builder’ which is the section where you can add lessons and topics to your course. The way this is designed is, you create lessons, give it a name, and then add topics to that lesson. Then you create another lesson and fill it with more topics. So we can say the “Lessons” are like the chapters of a book and the “Topics” are well, topics of that chapter.
Finally, the settings are the part where you can tweak various settings of the course. You can select the access mode of your course which basically determines if your course is a paid course, subscription-based course, timed course, and so on. You can also add course certificates, course prerequisites, and much more.
However, after you add lessons and topics, you have to put content there too. From the ‘Builder’ tab, you can select a lesson and then click on the edit button which will take you to another screen. There you can add content to your lessons such as texts, images, and other media files. You can also access the lesson builder from your WordPress dashboard.
You can edit your topics in a similar way. You can either access it from the builder tab or your WordPress dashboard. It’s not a bad idea to create lessons and topics at first and then add all those together in the builder. You can take any approach you like.
There’s a separate section where you can build your quizzes for your courses. In the main course builder, you can see there are options to add quizzes to your topics and lessons. Well, if you haven’t created any quizzes you can’t add those to your topics or lessons. To access the quiz builder, click on the “Quizzes” option from your WordPress admin dashboard.
The quiz builder looks similar to the course builder. It has 3 tabs, a quiz page, a builder, and settings. The quiz page is basically where you name your quiz and put a description. Then you start adding questions to it. There are multiple categories of quizzes to choose from:
- Single choice
- Multiple choice
- “Free” choice
- Essay/ Open Answer
- Fill in the blanks
- Assessment and much more.
At first, creating a quiz might be a bit overwhelming, but as you explore the builder, things will become more clear. There are clear indications of how you can choose your quiz category and how you can actually create the quiz.
For example, we create a single-choice quiz. First, we called it Question 1, then wrote the question, then finally added the options. We also selected the correct answer from the 4 options. You can also drag and drop the options to change their order.
The next tab is the settings tab. There are tons of quiz settings here you can take a look at. We are not going into full details, but let’s just talk about some interesting ones. Firstly, you can connect this quiz with the course or lesson from the Quiz Access Settings. You can also fix a quiz release time and also add quiz prerequisites.
You can also decide who can take this quiz. You can allow/disallow registered users only to take this quiz. You can also tweak other options such as set quiz passing score, attaching quiz certificate, restricting/allowing quiz retake, time limit, adding quiz material, auto start, enabling/disabling quiz overview table, custom quiz ordering, etc. There are way too many quiz options to mention in our article. You have to check out LearnDash documentation to know more.
Reports and Analytics
Reports and analytics are important to monitor the overall state of your eLearning platform. Almost all the top tier LMS plugins have a reports and analytics feature where you can view the overall statistics of your LMS website. Each one of these plugins has a unique method of displaying reports.
As users progress through course contents and mark items complete, LearnDash records this information on their WordPress profile. These records can be viewed on a specific user’s profile and the information can be exported too.
LearnDash also has a unique plugin called the ProPanel. You can get the LearnDash Pro panel with the PLUS and PRO packages. When activated, it will give you additional reports on the courses and LMS activity.
By default, LearnDash ProPanel will only be visible to admins and group leaders. The data will be visible in the following manner:
- Admins will see all data
- Group leaders will only see data related to the groups they are managing.
ProPanel contains 4 reporting widgets that will be visible on the WordPress dashboard. You can drag and drop the widget to any location of your dashboard you wish. The ProPanel also adds an “Activity Widget” which displays real-time activity on your courses. The activity data you’ll see are course completion, lesson and topic completion, and quiz completion. Other associated data such as the timestamp, score, and steps will be displayed when applicable.
Support and Documentation
As you already have seen, an LMS plugin isn’t any ordinary plugin. It is a sophisticated software with several features. When you’re working with such a system, it’s highly likely that you will face roadblocks. When this happens, you’ll either refer to documentation and FAQs or you will have to reach out to customer support.
A good thing that LearnDash has been around so long because it has a large community. It has well-structured documentation and a robust support system. If you’re in a pinch or can’t find a solution to your problems, you can get help in the following way:
- Documentation or Support page
- Request Help
- Find Experts
LearnDash has a Facebook group and YouTube channel where you can seek help. You can look at the FAQs or find experts who can help you solve your issues. There are tons of resources for you if you’re facing any problems with LearnDash.
The final point that we want to look at is pricing. The price of LMS plugins is usually a bit high because of the number of features built into them. LearnDash updated its pricing earlier this year. Previously there was a PRO package and PLUS package and a normal package. Now the pricing is a lot simpler.
The pricing of LearnDash has been divided into 2 categories:
- WordPress Plugin
- Full Site
The WordPress plugin refers to only the base LearnDash plugin and the Full Site is the LearnDash cloud. The LearnDash cloud is a full website that has LearnDash pre-installed with multiple templates. To learn more, check out our post on LearnDash cloud review.
The price of the base plugin is as follows:
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If you’re looking to purchase the LearnDash cloud, then here’s the pricing of the Full Site package:
Previously the LearnDash ProPanel was only available when you purchased a PRO or PLUS plan. Now if you purchase the LearnDash Full Site, you’ll receive the ProPanel for free.
Introduction to LifterLMS
LifterLMS is also a very popular and flexible LMS plugin. It has robust features and allows you to do things your way. You will have much freedom and flexibility when creating and hosting your courses. LifterLMS is used by Boston University, Abraham University, WP101, Blockgeeks etc.
The team of LifterLMS is ready to help you at different levels. If you’re a season WordPress developer, a do-it-yourself innovator, or if you just want to switch from your hosting platform. LifterLMS is well researched and thought of every roadblock users might face. The plugin has been optimized to assist you every step of the way.
One of the best things about LifterLMS is that it gives you full control over your learning platform. The plugin has been developed to instantly create and deliver any type of online learning on any topic. Also, if you’re ever in need of assistance, there are tons of resources for you. There is detailed documentation, an industry-leading helpdesk, engaged Facebook groups, educational video tutorials, podcasts with industry experts, live onboarding calls, and so much more. All of these things make LifterLMS a giant in the LMS industry.
Top LMS Features
If we look at the top features of LifterLMS, there’s nothing to actually complain about. We can see that it has all the features that you might normally need when creating and selling a course. Of course, there are more features than you might actually need. But we are not only talking about features related to creating and selling courses. There are many more features of an LMS plugin besides that. We will look into all these features.
As you already have noticed, LMS plugins have a ton of features and functionalities. Listing all these will be exhausting! So we are only pointing out some of the important features here:
- Free version available
- Drag and drop course builder
- Multimedia lessons
- Course Tracks
- Drip Content
- Course Prerequisites
- Private coaching
- Personalized Email
- Text Messaging
- Multi Instructor
- Course import and export
- Discussion area etc.
- Unlimited Pricing Model
- Credit card payments
- One-Time payments
- Recurring Payments
- Order Management
- Payment switching
- Customizable Enrollments etc.
There are a lot of features that we haven’t mentioned. But some of these features caught our eyes. As you can see, LifterLMS has it all. From course building to course selling, to LMS management, LifterLMS has got you covered.
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The LifterLMS Experience
As we already mentioned before, working with an LMS plugin might be a bit challenging especially if it’s your first time. It absolutely amazing when we see setup wizards in LMS plugins that help us setup everything for us. All we need to do is bring our courses and start selling. However, a bit of customization is obviously required before you can make profit selling courses.
And for that reason, it is good to have tutorials and guides to point us in the right direction. LifterLMS has a setup wizard and there are tons of tutorials and guides to help us get comfortable with the plugin. Let’s first look at the setup wizard.
Installation: The Setup Wizard
When you install and activate LifterLMS for the first time, the setup wizard will be launched. It will walk you through each steps, making the installation a lot easier for you. The setup primarily helps you with 3 steps:
- Page setup
There’s a welcome and a finishing step also, but we’re taking a look at these 3 right now. A setup wizard should be minimalistic and simple. If you remember, the LearnDash setup wizard also provided assistance in these 3 steps. So in both plugins, LearnDash and LifterLMS have done a great job with their setup wizard.
Like LearnDash, the welcome screen of LifterLMS’s setup wizard has 2 buttons, one to start it and the other to skip it. If you skip setup, you can always relaunch it so don’t worry. But going through the setup is recommended especially if you’re a new user.
The next step of LifterLMS is the page setup. Here the wizard will notify you what pages are going to be setup if they aren’t already. Normally the Course and Membership catalog, checkout and student dashboard pages will be setup.
After these pages are setup, you can manage these from the WordPress dashboard. In the next step, we have to option to select our country and currency. We can also select our payment gateway. WooCommerce and Stripe are best for LifterLMS.
In LifterLMS you can accept online and offline payments as well. There’s a checkbox labeled “Enable Offline Payment”. If that is something that you want, then enable this checkbox.
The next step is optional. Here you can allow LifterLMS to collect non-sensitive data from your eLearning website. This data will be used to make the plugin better. If you do agree to this, LifterLMS will give you a discount coupon as a reward. But this is still up to you, you can click on “No Thanks” to deny this offer.
This concludes all the necessary steps. In the final step, you can choose to watch video tutorials or read the LifterLMS Getting started guide. You can also import courses or click on the “Start from Scratch” button to continue to your WordPress dashboard and create a course from scratch.
Tutorials: Video Tutorials and Getting Started Guides
As we already discussed, at the end of the LifterLMS setup wizard, you’ll have the option to watch the video tutorials or read the LifterLMS guide. While LearnDash had the mini Bootcamp in your dashboard, LifterLMS has a different approach to its tutorials. At the final stage of the setup wizard, you’ll find options to watch tutorials.
If you want to get started with LifterLMS you can either watch the tutorial videos on LifterLMS’s YouTube channel or read the online guide to learn more. Whatever you prefer, the option is there for you. Enable the LifterLMS Quickstart course for a quick tutorial that shows you how to use the important elements of LifterLMS.
LifterLMS also has rich documentation which you can check out if you’re feeling lost. The knowledge base of LifterLMS contains articles, FAQs, and guides on various topics.
The course builder of LifterLMS is quite different from LearnDash. Although at a higher level, it offers the same thing LearnDash does, in a unique style. When you add a new course, you’ll be using the block editor to add the general course information such as course name, description, course length, difficulty, etc. When you scroll down, you’ll find a button called “Launch Course Builder” which will open the course builder.
The interface of the course builder takes up the entire screen. It just feels like a different software. LearnDash had the approach of creating lessons and adding topics within those lessons. LifterLMS has the same approach but instead, you’ll have:
Here you’ll create sections and then add lessons within them. This is basically the same approach as LearnDash but with different names.
The thing that we liked most about the LifterLMS course builder is the number of features it is packed with. You can add lessons, quizzes, assignments, and everything that you might require when creating a course. You can create an entire course from this one interface.
The lesson builder is built within the course builder. After adding the lesson, you can find various icons beside the lesson. One of those icons is the WordPress logo. Clicking on this logo opens up the lesson builder which slides in from the right side of the screen.
You can then customize your lesson. Since all these features are added within this one interface, it is quite convenient to create courses.
As we said, the lesson builder is built into the course builder. You can also access the lesson builder from your WordPress dashboard. However, if you open the lesson editor from the course builder, a sidebar from the right side of the screen will slide in.
Although it looks small, it has the general elements that a course needs to have. Most online courses today are video based. They have texts too but mostly the lessons are delivered through video. So there’s a place where you can embed a video URL, if you want there’s also the option to include audio files. So simply copy your video lesson URL and paste it here, tweak a few settings and you’re done.
That is how easy it is to create your lessons. If you have your videos ready, simply copy and paste the URLs over here and your entire course will be ready within a few minutes. That is how efficient this builder is.
The quiz builder is also built into the course builder. You can also launch it from your WordPress dashboard if you want. But we think its much more easy just to do it from the course builder. Since you’ll be knowing which lesson you’re adding your quiz into. Even when you open the lesson builder, you can see there’s a tab called “Quiz”, which opens up the quiz builder.
The general introduction and settings are all there. Give your quiz a name and a description if you want. Tweak the settings if you need to, then finally click on the “Add Question” button to add the actual question.
There are several quiz categories to select from. However, if you are working on the free version of LifterLMS you won’t have access to the advanced categories such as Fill in the Blanks, Reorder items, Reorder pictures, and much more.
Based on which category you select, the interface will help you to create the quiz. Simply scroll down and create your quiz. Let’s we want to create an MCQ quiz just like what we did in LearnDash. We selected Multiple Choice (note that you can make a single choice or multiple choice from this same category) and scrolled down. Then we added our question, added multiple options, selected the correct option and saved.
That is how you can create your question, and also, this question is now added to your lesson. Since we added our course directly from the lesson builder, the quiz got added automatically. That is basically how the quiz builder of LifterLMS works.
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Reports and Analytics
If you’re running an eLearning site you know the importance of reports and analytics. These insights help you know the current state of your LMS business. LifterLMS has an eCommerce dashboard through which you can review sales analytics and create custom reports. These statistics help you understand how well your courses are doing, which courses are popular among students, which courses are not making enough sales, etc.
You can look at the reports of students, courses, quizzes, sales, and much more. You also have the option to export the reports as csv files.
Support and Documentation
LifterLMS has a section on their website called the knowledge base which contains various helpful articles and guides. You can refer to these if you ever need support. If you rather want to contact a person, then LifterLMS’s official website has online chat support. If you are facing a complex issue with your LifterLMS website, you can submit a support ticket. But you have to log in to your LifterLMS account for that.
LifterLMS does have nice documentation and they have a good process for supporting the users. While the plugin is user-friendly and efficient, you might still need some support at some point. It’s good to know that there are tons of resources available for you.
Now with all that we’ve talked about, it’s time to discuss the pricing. LifterLMS has a different pricing model than LearnDash. First of all, there’s a free version of LifterLMS whereas LearnDash doesn’t have a free version. Although you can try out LearnDash for free through request you can’t install the free version on your WordPress website.
LifterLMS has 3 bundles available for you.
|Bundle Name||Price||Active Sites|
The higher bundles such as the Universe and Infinity bundles also give you more features. For example, the Universe bundle offers you design add-ons, marketing, and CRM add-ons, and Form add-ons. The Infinity bundle offers the most feature along with unlimited sites.
If you want to know more about the pricing and bundles, head over to the pricing page of LifterLMS.
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Although there’s a lot of debate on which LMS plugin is the best. Finally, the decision falls upon you. We will say the same thing once again, LearnDash and LifterLMS are both giants in the field of LMS plugins. You won’t be making any terrible mistakes if you purchase either. As you’ve already seen, the experience of both plugins is quite different, but the features they offer are more or less the same.
Features like multiple content drip, quiz categories, course certificates, etc. are all part of a modern eLearning website. While many claims, LearnDash is the best LMS plugin of all time, there are others who are more comfortable with other LMS plugins. We appreciate that you’ve decided to invest in a professional LMS plugin because the online education platform is a booming sector.
Today more people are interested in learning skills online. That is why industry professionals are encouraged to make online courses. A large number of the workforce is now being trained online. So there’s a great demand for online courses. So the decision to invest in an LMS plugin is a smart one.
If this post was helpful for you you can also check out some other posts similar to this one. We’ve also published a Tutor LMS vs Learndash and Tutor LMS vs LifterLMS. Check out those and find the best plugin for you.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase something by following them. However, we recommend services/products that we believe good to serve your purpose.