LearnDash and LifterLMS appear on the surface to be very similar LMS options in terms of features. But how do they really stack up against one another?
LearnDash vs. LifterLMS, which one is best? Both platforms offer a ton of features that you can use to create and sell your own courses. But LearnDash offers all of its features upfront, whereas LifterLMS makes you buy add-ons individually or pay for more expensive bundles to unlock its full potential.
In this article, I’ll compare LearnDash and LifterLMS to let you know which I think is best. I’ll look at the pricing and features for both to see how they stack up against each other.
Both have intuitive course builders that will let you drag and drop to create multimedia lessons. They will both allow you use quizzes to test competency or reinforce the learning of your students.
It seems like they offer similar features in terms of payments, integrations, detailed reporting, and many other features.
So it’s clear that both are quite solid LMS plugins for WordPress, and among the top options available.
However, when you spend a bit of time with both platforms, LearnDash becomes the clear winner for me.
I feel like LearnDash makes it a lot easier to set up your courses than with LifterLMS, and the end result will look significantly better and more professional too.
But where I feel like LifterLMS really falls behind is in terms of price, so let’s start there.
LearnDash uses a very straightforward and transparent pricing model. What you see is what you get.
The Basic LearnDash package costs $199 for 1 year of support and updates, while the Plus package costs $229 and the most expensive Pro package costs $369.
Almost all of LearnDash’s features are equally available on any of these plans.
The one thing that isn’t available on the Basic plan is ProPanel, which is an add-on that really enhances the reporting and analytics functionality of the LMS.
But aside from that, the only real difference is how many site licenses you get. On the Basic plan you get 1 site license. On the Plus package you get up to 10. And on the Pro package you get up to 25.
You just get access to all of the features that LearnDash promises on its website, without a bunch of restrictions because you’re on a particular plan.
Technically speaking, the core LifterLMS plugin is free. You can run one active site and get standard support. But realistically, there’s no way to run paid courses using just the core plugin.
Individual add-ons are available for $99 or more each per year. This is where things get a bit dicey with LifterLMS and the money can start to really add up.
To run your online course, you’re going to need at least a payment gateway. But each individual add-on to integrate with Stripe, Paypal, Authorize.
Net, WooCommerce, or any other way of taking payments will cost you $99 per year. EACH!
The same goes with email marketing, automation, or any other add-on you might need. To integrate with either MailChimp or ConvertKit you’ll need to pay an extra $99 per year.
To use forms like Ninja Forms, WPForms, Gravity Forms, or Formidable Forms it will cost you another $99 per year.
An advanced quizzing system will cost you an extra $199 per year. An assignment system is another $199 per year on top of that.
Pretty much any big feature that you want to add to your course will cost you at least $99, and this can quickly add up to hundreds and hundreds of dollar!
So to use LifterLMS, realistically you need to pay for their Universe Bundle, which costs $299 per year.
It includes the design, marketing, technology, and automation tools that you’ll need, which would cost you over $1,200 per year if you wanted to pay for them each individually.
The $299 per year Universe Bundle includes the core LMS plugin. You’re able to use it on up to 5 active sites, and you get priority support.
But what you’re really paying for is all the add-ons. The bundle gives you design add-ons you’ll need including a WordPress theme, achievement badges, certificate backgrounds, and more.
The Ecommerce add-ons let you accept recurring and one-time credit card payments and also allow for PayPal checkout.
The Marketing and CRM add-ons allow you to connect to your email list and CRM providers without costing you an arm and a leg to pay for them individually.
And lastly, form add-ons let you collect data you need from your learners. Including custom enrollment forms and more.
It might seem like for $299 per year, LifterLMS would include all of its features. But apparently not.
To unlock all of the features that they advertise, you’ll need to pay $999 per year for the Infinity bundle.
In addition to everything included in the Universe bundle in terms of add-ons, you can use LifterLMS on an unlimited number of active sites.
It also gives you a bunch of additional add-ons.
With this top bundle, you’ll be able to offer advanced quizzes and assignments. If you need manual grading or more than basic types of questions and assignments, this is a must.
You can use the private coaching feature to offer coaching and one-on-one discussion with your students in addition to self-study material.
Courses using this bundle also get social learning features, which creates a similar experience to Facebook Groups right on your own site.
While this is a really cool feature that’s actually better than the community features that LearnDash offers, it’s a shame that this alone will cost you what the entire LearnDash Basic plan costs.
Some advanced video features, custom fields features, and groups features are also only included in this top bundle.
It gives students a dedicated virtual environment to learn in, and helps eliminate distractions while they work through your course material. It’s fully customizable with your own brand colors and logo.
Its powerful course builder lets you easily drag and drop to create your course exactly how you want it.
You can rename every option available. So if you’re rather rename your “Lessons” to “Modules”, you can do that. It’s one of the best course builders that I’ve seen in the LMS industry so far.
That flexibility to design your course how you want it continues throughout every other aspect of this LMS. You can drip feed lesson content how you want to.
Either a certain number of days after a student enrolls, or on a particular calendar day for everyone. You can set prerequisites so that students need to finish specific lessons, courses, or quizzes before accessing other content.
LearnDash offers some of the most advanced quizzing options of any LMS.
You can choose from up to 8 different kinds of questions including single answer, sorting, matching, fill in the blank, multiple choice, survey, free text, or essay questions.
You can use a question bank to store hundreds of questions and create randomized quizzes.
Both questions and answers can contain multimedia like video or audio, and you can enforce attempt limits or use quiz timers too.
When a student completes a quiz or course, you can award custom badges and certificates. As well as course points that they can use to unlock additional content.
To boost course engagement, you can use dynamic forums that you can either make public or private for each specific course.
LifterLMS has many of the same features that LearnDash offers. You can use a drag and drop course builder to create your course. You can create multimedia lessons that include audio, video, text, images, and more.
You’re able to drip content or require prerequisites in a similar way to LearnDash too.
You can offer basic quizzing on all plans. Or with either the advanced quizzing add-on or the Infinity bundle, you get access to many other question types.
Choose from fill in the blank, reorder items, reorder pictures, short answer, long answer, file upload, code, and scale.
Plus you can have manual quiz grading with feedback as well. An assignment system with text submissions, task lists, and manual grading is also available.
LifterLMS allows for multiple discussion areas including lesson comments and forums.
There’s also a social learning system which allows you to create “Facebook-like” social discussion areas and gamification, something that LearnDash lacks.
Another thing LearnDash lacks that you can get through LifterLMS is the ability to offer private one on one coaching.
This not only allows you to provide personalized content to improve student results, but it also increases your maximum income potential too.
LifterLMS does offer extra features in terms of creating a membership site compared to LearnDash too. You can build a traditional membership site which restricts membership to everything except the sales page.
Or you can choose to lock specific courses, content, or other benefits.
Memberships can be a great way to earn more by bundling courses, and students who join a membership will automatically get enrolled in any courses that you include at checkout.
If you are doubt about creating an online course or a membership site. Learn the differences between Online Course Vs Membership Site it’s pros and cons and how to use it.
You can also create private group discussions and forums that are only available for members.
Both platforms will allow you to take payments using credit cards and Paypal through a variety of different integrated checkout plugins and apps.
You can create a straightforward checkout with either that is optimized for conversion.
Either platform will support one-time payments, recurring payments, subscriptions, and memberships. And both will allow you to create bundles and upsells.
Both platforms will allow you to make bulk sales to schools, businesses, and other institutions. You’ll need this option if you want to sell licenses to your courses in bulk to organizations.
This feature lets a manager track the progress and performance of all their staff who use the licenses.
It looks like LifterLMS allows you to use affiliates to sell your product for a commission, while I don’t see LearnDash offering any affiliate management functionality.
LifterLMS also allows you to presell courses before they can be accessed, either to offer a special prelaunch pricing or to validate your idea before you go ahead and create the entire course.
LifterLMS also may offer more options when it comes to letting customers update their own credit card information, and better order management for you as the course creator overall.
Both platforms give you a lot of control over your students and courses.
LearnDash gives your users front-end profiles so they can track their own course activity.
As an admin, it’s easy for you to enroll or un-enroll any user, assign groups, mark or unmark quizzes and courses as complete, modify their account details, and more.
Automatic emails will trigger when students complete specific tasks, which helps increase engagement while taking some of the manual task load off of you.
LearnDash also offers detailed reporting that lets you run quick reports to check on user progress, quiz performance, enrollment, and other analytics you may be interested in.
LifterLMS offers most of these features, plus a few extras. Their reporting and analytics is arguably more detailed and well-organized than what LearnDash offers (especially if you aren’t on a plan that includes ProPanel.)
You can either view reports online or download the data.
You can use email notifications in a similar way, which trigger when something specific happens like completing a course or failing a quiz.
I feel that LifterLMS does offer a bit more in terms of branding. You can really customize the look and feel of your platform to perfectly match your brand.
Whereas LearnDash is limited to pretty much just a logo and your brand colors.
LifterLMS adds extra details, like typography where you can choose from more than 600 Google fonts to match the signature style of your brand.
You can also customize layout including headers, footers, sidebars, site width, where different components are placed, and more.
LearnDash also seems more designed for one person to run everything themself.
LifterLMS offers roles so that you can build a whole team. Complete with managers, instructors, and even instructor’s assistants.
So I can see a lot more scalability and the option to go from having just one course to a giant school with thousands of students, and the staff to accommodate that.
One thing LifterLMS offers that might be useful for legal purposes is the ability to require people who enroll to agree to a set of terms and conditions before they join too.
LearnDash offers all of its customers a wide range of video tutorials, documentation, and start-up guides.
You also get access to community forums where you can reach out to other users for help. And if you’re still stuck, there is a LearnDash support site to get help directly.
LearnDash doesn’t offer any kind of telephone, online chat, video conferencing, or in-person support services.
So it will take some time to get a response, and support is only available from 7 AM to 7 PM EST, Monday to Friday.
For LifterLMS, you get a setup wizard when you first install which will walk you through the steps quickly. There’s also free training courses and detailed documentation available.
There’s a user community you can use to communicate with other users. And the company’s CEO holds a mastermind call once a week where you can get support and other tips to maximize your use of the platform.
In terms of technical support, LifterLMS similarly doesn’t offer any kind of live chat and you’ll need to submit a support ticket and wait for a response.
Support is one area that LMS plugins in general seem to lag a bit behind standalone online course platforms, which will often provide live 24/7 chat support.
LearnDash and LifterLMS offer a similar selection of great features that you can use to create, host, and sell your own online course.
However, LearnDash offers nearly all of its features up front, regardless of which plan you’re using. LifterLMS, on the other hand, will charge you individually for each add-on that you need.
So you’ll either pay individually for features that I feel should be included in their base product like advanced quizzes, marketing, eCommerce, design, and more.
It’s actually a bit disappointing, because LifterLMS does have some great features that LearnDash lacks. Especially the ability to create a Facebook-like group area for your students to interact.
But I don’t know if I can recommend something that will end up costing you as much as ten times more for those few extra features.
I just wish that LifterLMS was more transparent and straightforward with its pricing model.
For that reason, I’d recommend LearnDash. Particularly for beginner or intermediate course creators, you’ll get a lot more value for money, and you know exactly what you’re getting up front.
So you won’t have to strategize or try to decide which add-ons are worth paying for, you just get it all.
The one exception may be for more large-scale course creators.
If the difference between paying $199 per year or $999 per year isn’t an issue for you, then you may consider whether you’d get a few extra worthwhile features out of the LifterLMS Infinity bundle.
Jacob has a background in finance and engineering. Outside of his day job, he is a lifelong learner, who enjoys reading, taking online courses, and writing about what he's learned.
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