Developer at a computer wearing a WordPress t-shirt
February 21st, 2020 LearnDash

Trying to decide which LMS will give you the most control and flexibility as a developer? Look no further than LearnDash.

As a custom WordPress plugin, we get two broad types of customers: those who want to be sure they can use our platform even if they aren’t developers, and those who are developers and want to know if they’ll be able to customize the platform to fit their needs. In other words, is LearnDash the best platform for non-coding educators, or for developers?

The answer is: it’s both.

Not only is LearnDash the perfect LMS for developers and non-developers alike, it’s actually a better platform because it’s suited to both these groups. We’ve already discussed all the ways that LearnDash is a great LMS for users who don’t code. Now we’d like to make the case for why it’s the right choice for developers as well.

1. It runs on WordPress, the most popular and user-friendly CMS available.

It’s no secret that WordPress powers 30% of the Internet—and for good reason. Its content management system is incredibly user-friendly, providing non-developers with a powerful toolkit to publish their content, all without depriving developers of the control they need to create custom designs and functionality.

As a WordPress premium plugin, LearnDash capitalizes on both these benefits by bringing an accessible user interface to educators without limiting the ability of developers to customize as they see fit.

2. As a self-hosted LMS, you have full control over your content and website architecture.

We’ve discussed in the past the various downsides to hosted LMSs, such as Udemy, Teachable, and Thinkific. While these platforms offer out-of-the-box solutions that require almost no set-up, they’re also one-size-fits all in a way that confines educators to the limitations of the platform.

While not having to worry about technical details like hosting and site security are a relief to many, developers with the knowledge and technical background to make informed decisions on the subjects dislike having those choices made for them. If you’re on a hosted platform and your site performance is too slow, or if you have concerns about their privacy or security practices, there’s little you can do to fix the situation. But with LearnDash, you’re in control of every aspect of your website, allowing you to make the best decisions for your customers.

3. It is fully customizable for anyone who knows how to code—or can hire someone to code.

Here’s another problem with hosted LMSs: you’re limited by their development schedule. If there’s a feature you need for your site, you won’t be able to develop it on your own. Instead, you will have to wait for it to become their priority, and unless there is significant market demand, that may not ever happen.

On the other hand, if you have the development skills to design your own WordPress theme or plugin—or modify an existing theme or plugin to accommodate your course—then there’s no reason to restrict your capabilities with a hosted platform. Between WordPress, LearnDash, and your own abilities, you can build a one-of-a-kind learning environment perfectly tailored to the unique needs of your learners.

4. Our course builder make it easier for educators to create content—taking a load off the developer’s plate.

Many of the developers we work with are part of a team. They’re handling the technical side of the project while someone else handles the instructional design, the course management, the marketing, and the learner support.

However, just because there’s a developer on the team doesn’t mean the developer should be the only person who can manage the back end of the platform. In fact, an LMS without user-friendly controls will result in developers being over-burdened by tasks that other team members should be able to accomplish on their own.

The LearnDash course builder is easy for educators to create and modify without deep technical know-how. As a result, course creators can focus on developing content without overburdening the dev team with routine tasks.

5. Access to a broad library of features, plugins, and add-ons makes it easier to extend functionality.

Another advantage to using LearnDash lies in its access to an ecosystem of plugins that make it fast and easy to extend the functionally of any WordPress website. While developers can build their own tools as needed, doing so can be time-consuming and unnecessary.

And with add-ons designed specifically to integrate LearnDash—including MailChimp, Slack, and Zapier—developers can make their choice knowing that some of their most trusted applications can work smoothly within the platform.

Beyond this, the LearnDash team spends a lot of time working on more features that offer users additional tools for the ways they create and manage their courses. Combined, these represent a wealth of resources at the disposal of any developer who can put them to good use—and a lot of it is free.

6. Template override structure means LearnDash is compatible with almost any theme.

Some plugins will only work with a specific theme or group of themes, limiting their usefulness for developers who usually already have a theme or template in mind. However, LearnDash uses templates that are designed to work within a theme without disrupting design elements. This makes LearnDash compatible with about 99% of WordPress themes.

However, if a developer wants to further modify elements within a LearnDash template, they can override the template settings by copying files over to their theme folder and customizing them accordingly. This makes LearnDash easy to work with for developers who want to make changes from small tweaks to large adjustments.

7. LearnDash provides extensive documentation and world-class support if you ever run into difficulties.

Finally, it can’t be overstated how essential a good support team is—even for highly-skilled developers who may not think they need it. After all, the more you’re trying to attempt something innovative with your platform, the more backup you’re likely to need from the product support team.

There’s another side of this, too: a product without a well-trained support team is likely to have more flaws than one that has invested in both the support team and product documentation. So, when you see a company that has taken the time to back its platform with high-quality support, that’s a powerful trust indicator not to be ignored.

LearnDash really is the best of both worlds.

It’s not often you find a platform that successfully caters to the needs of casual users and power users alike. And yet, it’s hard to understand why these two user groups are so often treated as if one can’t be served without sacrificing the needs of the other.

In a business setting, where both developers and non-developers need to be able to access the same system, a platform that is easy for non-developers to use will mean less transferred hassle for developers. At the same time, there’s no reason that platform can’t be built without depriving the developer of the high-powered tools they need to put their skillset to the greatest use.

We believe WordPress is the best CMS for both educators and developers precisely for these reasons, and that’s why we build our plugin to function on that platform. If you are a developer trying to decide which LMS to use for your e-learning site—or that of your client—you really can’t do better than LearnDash.

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