July 26th, 2018 Course Creation

Sometimes we want something but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we need it.

Over the years I have seen a pretty typical lifecycle for those who are successful with creating their own online course programs. It usually goes something like:

  1. Begin marketing the course before it’s built
  2. Use an LMS like LearnDash to build out the course
  3. Offer the course to their email list
  4. Grow their course catalog with complimentary courses
  5. Provide more value to the course experience

The final phase (enhancing the course) is the last one for a reason. If you attempt to provide additional value before you even have people taking the course then you are wasting your energy. Only after people start to go through your course content can you think of productive ways to improve the experience.

Which raises the question: how do you improve the experience and add value?

There is not one answer to this question as often times the direction you go in will depend on the feedback from your learners. For example, some people add community elements to their courses using built-in forums or perhaps Facebook Groups.

Others will implement a more robust gaming (or point) system for learners to use as a form of digital currency.

And then there are those who want to “up” their mobile game by implementing a true app experience.

Decide whether an app actually is a value-add.

The first thing I tell people who are interested in adding an app to their LearnDash courses is to make certain that the app has actual value to their offering. In other words, there is no reason to get an app for your course just because you want to say that you have an app for your course. That isn’t a strategy. That is a waste of money.

The truth is apps in any context require an investment. If you’re building it yourself then be prepared for many, many hours of development, trial, error, debugging, and more. If you are paying someone to create an app from scratch then expect a heavy financial investment.

Before pulling the trigger on an app define the business case for having one. For example, if you have a lot of micro-learning content that learners would benefit from having quick access to via an app “on the go”, then an app sounds like a perfect fit. This is especially true if your learners are working “in the field” and cannot dedicate vast amounts of time to searching and viewing course content.

Should you use an app builder or get a custom native app created?

Let’s say you have a business case for getting an app. Well now you need to decide the approach you wish to take. Generally speaking people will go one of two ways:

  1. Use an app service (like the BuddyBoss App for LearnDash, or the one by AppPresser)
  2. Get an app custom developed

The benefit to using an app builder platform is that you’ll save a significant amount of money upfront doing it yourself and potentially get your app available quicker. On the flip-side, it will have less custom features and branding. It’s not “cookie-cutter”, but it’s not completely custom either.

The benefit to getting your app custom created is that it can be completely branded and created in a way that aligns with your business objectives. More features are often at your disposal and as a trade-off for the investment you don’t have to be the one building & testing the app. Of course, custom apps will require a higher financial investment so that is something to consider.

Maybe you don’t need an app, and that is okay.

As cool as having an app sounds, it might not be needed for your courses. For instance, if you are using LearnDash and you have a mobile responsive WordPress theme then that might be good enough. Learners can log into their account and view their courses from smartphones or tablets just the same as they would a laptop.

Whatever you decide to do I would recommend that you don’t rush the decision. Take time to really understand what your learners need from you and your courses. Talk with them and solicit their feedback. Mature your program first so that you know that the decision you make is best for your learners.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide. He is currently founder & CEO of GapScout. Justin's Homepage | GapScout | Twitter

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9 responses

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Nice Article. Thanks Justin
So now I have decided to go with app development (App Builder) for my courses. What is the best tools you recommend for LearnDash.

Avatar ahmed

Congrats on moving forward with your app! With regards to the “best tools”, it depends on the requirements for your project.

Would you recommend any PWA system to work together with WP and LearnDash as an intermediate option between using the standard mobile responsive site and building an app?

Avatar David

Dear Justin,

Is this advice still up to date, since the outcome of buddyboss with app integration?

Avatar Justin

The BuddyBoss app is a great tool too!

To compete with large elearning sites like Udemy, we need the ability to cache lessons and lesson videos offline.

I tried buddyboss app, but unfortunately their latex equations rendering are not good. Mine is a maths course created in learndash. I need the latex equations to render well. In addition to that buddyboss app has more of a social networking features like communities, groups, forums, activities. I used their buddyboss platform and it interfered with my learndash website and created login issues. For every page it was by default asking login. So now I am thinking of not using buddyboss as I am in 21days trial period.

Hi, I need students who have poor or no internet connection to have a chance at school to download some courses created with LearnDash and try them at home. Once they are ready, they will be able, again at school, to upload their activities and get feedback. Do I necessarily need an application?

Avatar Alexander Pardo R

Does it support different languages for the user? Like can it be easily changed? Thank you.

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