Your courses are available via web browser on a mobile device. Is that just as good as an app?

A primary concern for many course creators is that their content is not only accessible, but that it provides a good user experience as well. For most course creators, their website is their main learning platform, and most have done a good job of choosing mobile themes so that their users can access their content on the go. However, is that enough?

For many websites, making sure their website is optimized for mobile is as far as they need to take it. However, learning platforms, with their extra functionality, could benefit from an app interface. A mobile app has some unique benefits for online learning, which makes it a great addition to your website.

Let’s look at some of the ways a mobile app could benefit your business.

1. Better course completion rates and student satisfaction.

Your students take their phones everywhere they go. Putting your courses into a mobile app means your courses go with them. That gives them more opportunities to complete your courses, creating more engagement.

64% find accessing workplace learning from a mobile device essential or very useful! 

Growth Engineering

Mobile is no longer optional—it’s essential. Offering a mobile app makes your courses more appealing to potential students, and gives them more satisfaction, which can boost referrals and retention.

2. Better mobile design = more engagement.

A well designed mobile app can offer a distraction free learning environment.

According to the findings of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Skillsoft survey, 72 percent of the participants reported increased engagement with mobile learning.

shift elearning

The truth is that while most websites work on a mobile device, they don’t work as well as you’d hope. With mobile, the devil is in the details. Even small inconveniences add up to a frustrating experience. A mobile app that has been designed specifically for a small device can overcome these obstacles, which means your students can immerse themselves into the course content and retain more information.

3. Push notifications get your message across.

Push notifications are yet one more advantage apps have over mobile websites. Push notifications allow you to send important messages to your app users, and make sure that they get them. Email is great, but it could end up in a spam folder, or simply deleted without being read. A push notification is much harder to ignore.

Make sure you get your important messages across by having your mobile app in your students’ pockets.

4. Increase perceived value.

People love apps, and they love downloading them. An app with your logo and branding can increase the perceived value of your course(s), and help you charge more. Offering in app purchases can bring another revenue stream to your business and capture more would-be students who prefer mobile to desktop.

71% of Millennials say they connect more with mobile learning than L&D activities delivered via desktop or formal methods.

social talent

You also get a leg up on your competition. All things being equal, the course that has a mobile app looks more valuable to potential students.

How to Create a Mobile App for Your Online Courses

Now that you’re sold on creating an app for your mobile course, you may be wondering how to go about it. You have a few options for creating a mobile app, each with its own pros and cons. The one that is right for you will depend on several factors, such as budget, technical skills, time horizon, and custom features.

1. AppPresser

AppPresser offers a no-code app builder that allows you to add your LearnDash courses, lessons, topics, and quizzes with very little effort.

Add your courses with the visual page builder, change the colors and branding, and submit to app stores. You can add your other WordPress content as well, such as blog posts, a membership area, a BuddyPress community, and lots more.

AppPresser is a good option for cost sensitive folks because it is a DIY solution. It does require some time to set things up, such as app store accounts and app customizations, but you can get your courses in the app stores for under $1,000.

Interested in learning more? Check out our recent interview with Scott Bolinger, of AppPresser.

2. BuddyBoss LearnDash App

Another option is the BuddyBoss LearnDash App. This is more of a done-for-you solution. Their team handles the process of reviewing and ensuring that your mobile app is compliant with Apple App Store guidelines and Google Play Store guidelines. When your app is ready, they will get it live in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store using your developer account.

If you want a 100%  hands-off experience, their team will take care of everything—including creating, customizing, and preparing your mobile app for you so you can save time and focus on other parts of your business.

If you’re using the popular BuddyBoss platform, then the BuddyBoss App is a natural choice for your online course app needs. Their app can work with any WordPress theme, just as long as you have the BuddyBoss Platform, LearnDash or both plugins installed.

3. Custom App Development

If you have a large budget and a lot of unique needs for your courses, custom app development may be right for you. This approach allows you to scaffold the app from the ground up, ensuring that everything is tailored to your courses. You can fine tune each part of the app, creating the best experience possible for your students.

The biggest down side of this approach is that the costs of development are steep—definitely five figures, if not six. You’ll also have to maintain the app yourself.

A word of caution about in-app purchases.

An important consideration for selling courses through your mobile app is in-app purchases. Both the iOS and Android app stores require any digital purchases to use this system. These purchases go through the app stores, not through your payment processor, and the app stores take a 15-30% commission.

You can still sell your courses through your website, but your app will be rejected if you redirect people from the app to your website to purchase. One way to offset the loss of revenue due to app store commissions is to increase the price of your courses in the app. This will encourage your students to purchase on your website instead, and then login to the app when they want to view course content on their mobile device.

While it’s not the right choice for everyone, creating an app for your course is worth consideration.

Your website is your main learning platform, and you should always put your best efforts toward building it into a robust, user-friendly space for your learners. However, a mobile app has unique advantages that can boost your business and help your students and should not be dismissed as an unattainable “nice-to-have.”

A mobile app can increase engagement, course completion rates, student satisfaction, perceived value, and more. The best way to build the app depends on your situation, but getting your courses in your students’ pockets is a great idea for any online learning business.

Laura Lynch photo

About Laura Lynch

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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