The dawn of Learning Management systems has been a disruptive change in the eLearning industry. Once a tedious process, eLearning website ownership is now a breezy yet satisfying affair. Educators who once faced hiccups due to lack of coding skills have progressed to running advanced eLearning establishments with ease.
All of this has been made possible by Learning Management Systems such as LearnDash.
LearnDash has mimed the very essence of WordPress – making it easy for businesses of all kinds to build a modular e-learning website. Needless to say, it is the most popular choice for WordPress eLearning businesses.
Picking the Perfect LearnDash Theme
Like all websites in WordPress, a theme is a crucial part of your LearnDash puzzle. Not only does a theme give your website a unique brand identity, but it also has important user experience perks which make it an indispensable asset.
If you were to broadly divide themes for LearnDash into two categories, you’d have,
- Generic themes– themes not built specifically for the LMS, and
- LearnDash-specific themes– themes built for the LearnDash or tested and made compatible with the LMS.
The advantage of a theme built especially for LearnDash, is that it will help you bypass the hassles that come with the use of generic themes.
Taking a Closer Look at LearnDash Specific Themes
While generic themes are available in plenty, LearnDash-specific themes are far and few. But what makes LearnDash-specific themes worth the investment are the clear advantages they offer over generic themes.
An LMS is as good as the design philosophy it implements. Generic themes can be customized to a desirable design but having a LearnDash specific theme saves time. Such themes are made with LMS in mind and hence reduce the workload of LMS owners.
Generic themes are made to cover a broader spectrum of WordPress websites. You might not need all the elements that come with the themes and will spend hours and dollars in getting the right tailored look for your LMS. A LearnDash specific theme provides customized pages for courses, course archives, profile, etc., which saves time.
Generic themes offer a wrapper over LearnDash layouts and don’t change the overall look. LearnDash themes offer a heightened learning interface with elements that ease the education process.
Here’s another screen grab of a LearnDash-focused theme eLumine,
We can notice 3 special features which reflect our point on the design of LearnDash specific themes. First, there is an introductory video on the course page. Second, the zoom buttons are specially positioned to increase the size of only the text, quickly. Finally, the night mode feature. For studying a course in dim light, you only have to switch the night mode on and go easy on your eyes. A learner’s delight, wouldn’t you agree?
And if you need more convincing, eLumine also features Neo layouts that have enhanced UI, better graphics, a butter-smooth experience, and full compatibility with LearnDash 3.0.
Generic themes are made to cover a broad spectrum of websites. The fact that there is an abundance of plugins in the WordPress ecosystem, means it cannot be possibly tested with each and every plugin. Surely, we cannot expect the author to do so either and they might miss out on the unique combination of plugins for your LMS.
Themes built especially for LearnDash are thoroughly tested keeping Learning Management in mind. So, compatibility with LMS-based plugins is ensured. As the number of LearnDash compliant plugins is much lesser than the total number of WordPress plugins, the testing is much refined.
Compatible plugins and themes not only give a stress-free experience but will also be crucial for future updates, backups, restores, and scaling of operations.
This helps in achieving a seamless experience for the learners and yourself.
One of the best benefits of WordPress is frequent updates. Bugs are identified and fixed swiftly. A large community connects the users to the developers, which allows better updates with the features that most of the users want.
As generic themes have a wide customer base, the new features in the updates may not be helpful to LMS owners. You may also have to face unnecessary bugs when such features are introduced. Waiting for bug fixes and toiling for requested features will just make your lives harder.
In the case of Learndash specific themes, updates and bug fixes are sharply aligned with LearnDash. Whenever a new LearnDash update comes up, you get immediate theme updates and bug fixes. The features that you request will have more chances of being released as theme functionality. The speed will also be optimized for LMS usage.
Customer support is also crucial. When you raise a request for customer support, your issues are resolved quickly as the developers behind these themes are very familiar with LearnDash and hence, fixing the bugs and errors in the theme isn’t very difficult for the developers.
Ease of Use
Special elements are available in LearnDash specific themes to make browsing, navigation, and studying lessons easier for your students. For example, support for RTL (Right to Left) written languages is included in LearnDash specific themes keeping a global learner base in mind.
One important advantage of LearnDash specific themes is that the implementation of social tools is more detailed. Communication and forum discussions among students and instructors are important for LMS owners. With such themes, you do not have to spend money on buying external plugins to do the job.
Some finer details like badges for achievements and activities boost the engagement tendencies of the learners. Setting up a points system in response to activities motivates the learners to stick to the LMS and spend more time using it. LearnDash specific themes have such tailor-made details that boost engagement rates of students.
Another crucial aspect of ease-of-use is mobile responsiveness. We all know that the number of mobile users is more than desktop/laptop users. So, naturally, your LMS must tend to all types of users. Learndash specific themes provide the same level of UI/UX across all devices (desktops, laptops, mobiles, tablets), keeping learning engagement in mind.
Customization requests will be quickly resolved and be less expensive if you opt for a LearnDash specific theme. Your time and money will be focused on learning. Core LMS features might miss out some handy details, but with quick customization, you can have the LMS which matches your philosophy. Sometimes, your request might be released as a future update, which can save costs.
SEO experts swear by meta-tags, H1 and H2 tags, headers and footers, and backlinks. If these terms confuse you, you don’t need to worry. Simply put, they help in getting your website rank higher in search results. Competition is intense in LMS websites, so your website needs to appear as high as possible when users search for LMS websites.
Pages made with generic themes might skip optimizing your LMS with such tags. These little bits of code might be the deciding factor between a successful and a failed LMS business.
Having a LearnDash specific theme will guarantee SEO expertise optimized for LMS searches. Such SEO experts will have in-depth information on the LearnDash code and will help in getting better SERPs (Search Engine Result Page).
This is the front-end of what you will show to your students. The underlying code validates the search engine crawlers that the page belongs to an LMS and must rank higher for eLearning searches. We cannot go into details, but the answer lies in font-sizes, headings, and other LMS specific elements.
While searching for a good theme for your LMS, these five crucial factors come in handy:
- Ease of use
Going for a generic theme has more pitfalls than benefits. Lesser LMS focused updates, design mismatches, customization hassles, fewer bug fixes will make you spend more time and money in getting the right LMS experience.
To focus solely on learning and teaching, LearnDash specific themes cut out the generic competition and stand out as ideal choices for your LearnDash LMS. The little tweaks and design perks will be crucial in getting a unique brand image for your LMS business.
What are your thoughts? What would you opt for? As usual, shares and comments are much appreciated 😀