Creating and selling online courses is a lucrative business, but success often depends on the LMS software (Learning Management System) that you use. A high quality LMS solution will enable you to design interesting and varied courses that will engage your students and keep them coming back for more.
In this article, we discuss five of the best LMS software you should check out in 2021. These include, in no particular order:
By comparing their many features, pros, and cons, we will empower you to make an informed decision on the right LMS for your next project.
Let’s get started:
What to look for when choosing an LMS
Choosing the right LMS for your project isn’t an easy feat, and the solution you select should very much depend on the needs of your business or eLearning niche, as well as the needs of your students. That said, there are a few key features that everyone should consider when trying to identify the right tool for the job:
- Ease of Use – A quality LMS software should incorporate an intuitive interface for users and administrators, as well as a user-friendly course creation process. Luckily, most tools offer some form of free trial or money-back guarantee, so you can test out how you like the interface before committing.
- Course Features – You need your courses to be engaging and appeal to all types of learners. Therefore, LMS software should include a wide assortment of course and lesson types, including quizzes and tests, the option of adding multimedia, discussion forums, certificates, and more.
- Monetization Options – A top-class LMS platform should offer numerous monetization options to enable you to grow your business and revenue. Look for features like multiple payment gateways, sales pages, one-off payments and subscription options, coupons, and more.
- Support – Always check out the support offered before you make an LMS software purchase. Is there a useful help center? Are the onboarding tutorials easy to follow? And can you speak to a customer service agent if you run into problems?
- Price – LMS software differs greatly in price. Work out your budget and then pick a solution accordingly. It’s best to factor in the price at which you want to offer your courses vs the cost of the software.
Best LMS software compared
Here’s a quick summary of the best LMS software that I have chosen for this collection:
|Software||Price||Key Features||Best For||Visit|
|LearnDash||$159 – $329 (a year)||Extensive Course Features
Powerful Course Builder
|All Sized Businesses
|Teachable||$29 – $399 (a month)||Fully Hosted Solution
Extensive Marketing Tools
|Teachers and Instructors
All Sized Businesses
|LifterLMS||$99 – $999 (a year)||Drag-and-Drop Course Builder
Copious Monetization Features
Membership Site Options
|Experts and Coaches
Small to Medium Businesses
|Absorb LMS||$1350+ (a month)||Fully Hosted Solution
|Medium to Large Businesses
|TalentLMS||$59 – $429 (a month)||Extensive Testing and Reporting Options
Andriod and iOS Apps
|All Sized Businesses
LearnDash is a popular LMS software that caters for Fortune 500 companies, universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs. Using LearnDash you can easily create courses, lessons, quizzes, and certificates, to name a few options. You can also monetize your courses by selling subscriptions, memberships, course bundles, and more.
⚙️ Top features
- Powerful course builder
- Advanced quizzes
- Drip-feed content option
- Flexible course prerequisites
- Detailed reporting
- Front-end user profiles
- Shopping cart and online payment options
- Own branding option
- The powerful course builder and numerous course options mean that you can create courses to your exact specifications.
- LearnDash integrates with a wide assortment of add-ons, enabling you to add extra functionality to your eLearning platform. Add-ons include WooCommerce, Stripe, BuddyPress, MemberPress, Gravity Forms, Slack, ConvertKit, Zapier, and many more.
- LearnDash takes a little bit of getting used to, and the course creation process isn’t that intuitive. There is a knowledge base packed full of useful information, but an individual support service is only available via the ticketed email support channel.
LearnDash offers three premium plans:
- Basic ($159 a year) – One-site license, unlimited courses and users, and access to all features.
- Plus ($189 a year) – 10-site license, unlimited courses and users, and access to all features.
- Pro($329 a year) – 25-site license, unlimited courses and users, and access to all features.
LearnDash also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you decide this isn’t the right eLearning platform for your project then you can expect a full refund.
Teachable is a feature rich LMS tool that will enable you to quickly and easily create a beautiful eLearning website packed with engaging online courses. This all-in-one platform is ideal for those who want to focus on course creation, while leaving the back-end web design to the experts from Teachable.
⚙️ Top features
Teachable offers an extremely intuitive and user-friendly interface, both for instructors and students alike. Here are Teachable’s best bits:
- Create multimedia lectures (upload videos, images, audio, PDF files, and more)
- Drag-and-drop page builder
- Online quizzes
- Course certificates
- Multi-instructor support
- Sales pages
- Comprehensive analytics dashboard
- Online payments
- Integrations (Mailchimp, AWeber, Infusionsoft, Zapier and more)
- Use a Teachable subdomain or connect an existing domain
- If you choose to design your site with Teachable, it takes care of hosting, security, performance, and monitoring, as well as site upgrades. It also provides an SSL certificate for your site. Equally, if you want to, you can integrate Teachable with your existing website.
- Teachable provides numerous marketing tools to enable you to grow your business. These include customizable sales and landing pages, advanced pricing options, incentivized enrollment with coupons and promotions, and a built-in affiliate program.
- Although you can take online payments, Teachable only integrates with PayPal or Stripe. These limited payment options may be frustrating for some.
Teachable offers three premium packages for users to choose from. Features differ depending on the plan, so check carefully what each package offers before signing up:
- Basic ($29 a month) – Unlimited courses and students, two admin-level users, and 5% transaction fees.
- Professional ($79 a month) – Unlimited courses and students, five admin-level users, and no transaction fees.
- Business ($399 a month) – Unlimited courses and students, 100 admin-level users, and no transaction fees.
All plans include unlimited hosting and can be canceled at any time.
LifterLMS is a powerful WordPress LMS software, built to empower experts, coaches, and entrepreneurs. The solution consists of a core plugin with numerous add-ons that can be purchased individually or in bundles to add extra functionality. With this flexible software, you can design online courses, sell products, create eLearning membership sites, integrate your favorite tools, and much more.
⚙️ Top features
LifterLMS has a lot to offer, so let’s take a look:
- Flexible drag-and-drop course builder
- Multimedia lessons and quizzes
- Drip content
- Student dashboard
- Achievement badges and certificates
- Discussion areas course reviews
- Multi-instructor options
- Detailed customized reporting
- Extensive support
- LifterLMS offers a plethora of monetization methods and options, consequently enabling you to generate revenue from your online courses. Sell from numerous countries in different currencies, set your own pricing and plans, charge one-off payments or sell courses via bundles or subscriptions. You can also increase sales through coupons, affiliate promotions, partial scholarships, and much more.
- With LifterLMS, you can create an eLearning membership site – restricting access to content until members have enrolled. Create membership plans and set up membership site specific features, like automatic enrollment, private discussion groups, and members-only forums.
- Due to the way LifterLMS is sold, it can end up costing more than you initially think. To ensure your eLearning platform has all the functionality you need, you may need to install extra add-ons. However, these add-ons have to be bought individually, or in bundles, and they don’t come cheap.
LifterLMS offers three pricing options:
- Individual Add-Ons ($99 a year) – Included in this package is the LifterLMS core WordPress plugin, and one payment gateway or one individual add-on of your choice, for use on one website. Other add-ons can also be purchased separately.
- Universal Bundle ($299 a year) – This package includes design, eCommerce, marketing, and form add-on bundles. You can also use LifterLMS on up to five active websites.
- Infinity Bundle ($999 a year) – With this plan, you can expect access to all LifterLMS bundles, as well as priority support and use on unlimited sites.
LifterLMS also offers a 30-day demo site for just $1, which allows you to try out the core plugin as well as all the add-ons.
If you’re interested in other LMS solutions that run on a WordPress website, we have a separate comparison here.
Absorb LMS is built for businesses that are looking to train their employees, customers, external stakeholders, and worldwide partners via an eLearning platform. With Absorb LMS, you can create personalized learning journeys, enabling staff, customers, and other clients to access the right courses at the right time.
⚙️ Top features
Here are some of the top features that Absorb LMS provides:
- Intuitive admin interface
- Leaner and course dashboards
- eLearning content libraries (access thousands of pre-built online courses from Biz Library, In Learning, Skillsoft, and more)
- Social learning
- Integrated eCommerce functionality
- Absorb LMS mobile app
- Advanced reporting and analytics
- Integrations (including Salesforce, Zoom, Namely, and more)
- Extensive support
- This cloud-based all-in-one platform boasts great performance. Features include global servers via a CDN, daily security scans, and PCI compliance, as well as a track record of 99.99% uptime over the last 12 months.
- Absorb LMS ensures an extremely quick set up, due to an impressive onboarding and support service. In-house expert support is available 24/7 via phone, email, and email, alongside extensive documentation.
- Absorb LMS isn’t cheap, with pricing running into the thousands (per month). Therefore, this means that Absorb LMS isn’t a viable option for many smaller businesses.
Absorb LMS doesn’t list its prices, so to find out exactly what this solution will cost you, you will need to email for a quote. That said, you can expect prices to start around $1350 a month for the hosted LMS service.
TalentLMS is another cloud LMS that has been built to empower businesses and help them train employees, partners, and customers. Trusted by over 70,000 organizations, TalentLMS prides itself on its ease of use, providing a central training hub, access to ready-made courses, and much more.
⚙️ Top features
TalentLMS top features include:
- Page builder
- Extensive test and reporting options
- Instructor-led training via video conferencing
- Discussion forums
- Certificates, badges, points, and rewards
- eCommerce features (integrates with PayPal and Stripe)
- Integrate with over 200 services (WordPress, Zapier, Salesforce, and many more)
- Available in multiple languages
- Fully hosted service with Amazon CDN
- It offers a free plan!
- TalentLMS provides mobile apps for iOS and Android, so your users can learn on the go.
- TalentLMS allows you to brand your eLearning portal. Use your own domain and logo, customize emails, add extra pages, and much more.
- In comparison to Absorb LMS, the other eLearning platform in this collection of best LMS software that focuses on in-house employee training for businesses, TalentLMS is lacking in pre-made content, which helps companies set up courses quickly and easily.
Talent LMS offers a variety of packages, including a free option. Features vary depending on the plan, so check carefully before making a purchase:
- Free – Up to five users and 10 courses.
- Starter ($59 a month) – Up to 40 users and unlimited courses.
- Basic ($129 a month) – Up to 100 users and unlimited courses.
- Plus ($249 a month) – Up to 500 users and unlimited courses.
- Premium ($429 a month) – Up to 1000 users and unlimited courses.
TalentLMS also offers Active plans that allow you to register an unlimited number of users. All plans come with free support, and can be canceled at any time.
Final thoughts on the best LMS software of 2021
Evidently, there are a number of impressive LMS services and platforms available. Each of the solutions mentioned in this article offer different features, as well as a variety of pros, cons, and price points. Think carefully about the service and functionality you need, and then select an eLearning platform that best suits your project.
That said, here are my top recommendations:
Now all that’s left is to pick the right LMS software for your project. So, which one will you choose?
Any questions on the LMS software mentioned in this article? If so, please ask away in the comments below.
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