When people look into creating an online course using WordPress they often find themselves trying to decide between a variety of solutions.
Perhaps you are currently in this situation.
Assuming you are going to self-host your WordPress site, you will ultimately face the following decision:
- Use a WordPress LMS like LearnDash
- Use a membership plugin
- Use both
The answer to this question really depends on the specifics of your project, so unfortunately I cannot give you a hard-set rule as to when to use each. However, let’s explore some common scenarios.
Using an LMS Plugin (Only)
If you’re just starting your investigation into solutions, you might be surprised to know that you actually don’t need a membership plugin with solutions like LearnDash. Our LMS will protect your content without the need of a membership plugin.
For example, if you are selling three different courses, each course has its own protection rules. Only people who are registered for the course (either by purchasing or self-enrollment) can view the content.
An added bonus is that someone can have access to multiple courses at once (essentially, multiple “membership” levels), which isn’t always as easy to accomplish with a traditional membership plugin.
You can take this one step further by using a shopping cart to sell your courses. Using LearnDash, a shopping cart product can be associated with many courses which allows you to create various bundles.
People who choose the LMS only approach appreciate the streamlined process for creating their course offering. It also cuts back on having to learn another solution.
Using a Membership Plugin (Only)
There are some situations when using an LMS plugin isn’t necessary.
If your project just requires that you protect a couple pages, posts, or a assets on your WordPress site, then a membership plugin like PaidMembershipsPro is all you really need. Using a learning management plugin in this case would be overkill.
Another possible scenario is if you don’t require a structured course offering.
One example would be if you have a site that includes a community forum and perhaps some valuable downloads for the members. In this case, you don’t need an LMS because there isn’t a need for course enrollment and tracking.
Sometimes there are advantages to using both solutions.
If you want to have additional metrics on your members, then using a membership plugin is a nice value-add. Many membership platforms come with their own reporting capabilities. Used in conjunction with an LMS like LearnDash, this gives you more insight into your users.
One common scenario for using both is if you have a membership site already and just want to add some course capabilities in a more formal, organized fashion. Inserting an LMS plugin makes it easy to add value to your membership site by creating courses for your members to take.
This is a rather high-level overview of when to use a learning management system versus a membership plugin.
In some cases we tell people to use LearnDash only, and other times we encourage them to use both. There are also pre-sales situations where we advise people to use just a membership plugin. Again, the right solution for you varies on your project’s needs and goals.
If you are interested to know which is best for you, do not hesitate to write us with details about your project.