Let’s be honest here, one of the few good things to come out of this pandemic is the incredible boom in the eLearning business.
And, I’m not surprised if you’re a new entrepreneur, a professor, or an established business seeking to share your knowledge and move online. In fact, there’s never been a better time to start an eLearning business.
Right from creating your own courses to selling and managing them is precisely what the online course platforms offer. However, given the options available today, choosing a perfect platform can give you a real headache.
But, don’t you worry!
In this article, I’m going to compare the top 3 LMS – LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific. This should give you more clarity and will help you decide the LMS that is right for your eLearning business.
Oh, wait, first things first!
1. LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific – Who’s got the features?
All the 3 LMS platforms offer rich and strong features that make them super useful. But, to make the decision simpler for you, I’m going to compare the features of all 3 platforms under three categories: For Admin, For Teachers/Instructors, For Students.
|Drag & Drop course builder||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Course content – quiz, lessons, video content –||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Monitoring and reporting||A basic system is available. Advanced analytics reports can be accessed by purchasing add-ons like ProPanel or TinCanny Reporting.||Yes||Yes|
|Multi-Instructor Support||Yes. With a 3rd Party add-on||Yes||Yes|
|Multimedia lessons – audio, video, images, text, etc.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Live video and webinars with students||Yes, can be accessed with 3rd party add-on||Yes||Yes|
|Themes||Works with any modern WordPress themes||Comes built-in||Comes built-in|
When it comes to Instructors/Authors/Teachers, platforms like Teachable and Thinkific come with in-built Multi Instructor support. For LearnDash, you will need to purchase the WISDM Instructor Role add-on to access the Instructor Role functionalities.
|Ability to add/edit/delete courses||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Review student assignments||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Front end dashboard – view profile, activities, lessons, courses, etc.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|One-on-one sessions with Instructors||Yes – Possible with an add-on||Yes||Yes|
|Access courses through mobiles||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Peer- to peer Interaction||Yes – requires a 3rd party add-on||Yes – comes with a built-in discussion feature|
|Multiple course enrollments||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Access and download certificates||Yes||Yes||Yes|
To be honest, all 3 eLearning platforms – LearnDash, Teachable, and Thinkific offer equally strong and similar features. But, if you’re planning to start your own course marketplace or a school, using a platform like LearnDash works best given the kind of features and flexibility it has to offer.
On the other hand, if you are a subject matter expert, coach, or a speaker, platforms like Teachable and Thinkific are extremely well designed to equip you with great functionalities.
2. LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific – Who can provide an easy-peezy setup?
This step may look ignorable but, trust me, when you’re going through the setup – this process will help you figure out the workings of all aspects of your LMS.
Teachable & Thinkific
Now, both Teachable and Thinkific are hosted platforms. It means you don’t have to put in extra effort or waste time figuring and setting up the LMS. The process is straightforward and super quick which enables you to launch your eLearning business in a snap.
And, if you’re someone without any technical or design background, then these two platforms will suit your requirements the best. It saves you loads of time of having to go through the pains of the entire set up configurations.
LearnDash, on the other hand, is a WordPress plugin.
Since WordPress is a self-hosted platform, it means you’ll have to get things done on your own and spend some time in installation and setting up the LMS.
If you or your teammates are familiar with the WordPress environment and its workings, then integrating LearnDash and setting it up will feel like a walk in the park.
Having said that, using WordPress and LearnDash isn’t rocket science either. There are plenty of walk-through guides available that can help you set up and launch your eLearning business in a jiffy.
In case you’re just starting out, I understand that you might want to get into the game and make revenues ASAP. If that’s the case, either Thinkific or Teachable seems like a convenient option.
Whereas, if you’re an existing business, have a WordPress website or are migrating from another platform, you’d naturally have some time at hand. You can consider going with LearnDash as it is also a good option from a long term perspective.
3. LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific – Hosting & Security concerns?
Well, both Hosting and Security are the most integral part of your business. Ensuring your data is safe and secure at all times should be a priority.
Teachable & Thinkific
Since both Teachable and Thinkific are hosted platforms, it means all your activities will rely upon the functioning of the hosted server. Now, for some reason, if there’s an outage or if the main system at Teachable or Thinkific is down, it automatically stalls your activities as well.
You may lose out on business, especially if your main pages (payment page, blogs, product page) are connected to the hosted server. Having said that, the possibility of the main server going down is rare as the LMS’ ensures 24/7 monitoring.
And, when it comes to security, your student and the LMS data is your goldmine. Fortunately, both Teachable and Thinkific don’t own your data. The data is yours. You can export and leave with it if at all you wind up or migrate to another platform.
Both these platforms use highly secured SSL certificates and layers when it comes to data, website, and payment protection. Also, the updates on your website are pretty instant whenever the latest features are out or the bugs are fixed.
Since WordPress is a self-hosted platform, the chances of your activities getting stalled are zero. Unless there’s an outage at your end 😛
However, different functions of your LMS rely on the plugins you install. Any issue on the plugin/vendors’ end may hamper your business activity. But, again, the chances of such occurrences are very low. And, in any case, even if an issue arises, it is way easier to change the vendor/plugin without much downtime.
Plus, when it comes to security, you can do your own research and install the best security layers as per your choice. You have full ownership and control of your data at all times. There is no risk of 3rd parties getting involved whatsoever.
Moreover, when it comes to updates and the latest features, you can hit up your plugin vendor at any point in time. You can even request a customized update for your business instead of waiting for them to release a global update.
In my experience, both Teachable and Thinkific provide excellent security. The only downside is – they do not own your data but will always have access to it since it’s all stored in their server. It certainly doesn’t pose a risk but, in the long term, as your business grows, your data will also grow. The thought of data being compromised will always linger in the back of your mind.
However, with WordPress and LearnDash, you are free to choose your own security. The risk of data being compromised is eliminated. For any updates or functionalities, you don’t have to wait for a particular plugin vendor to globally release it, you can ask for a customized update as well. Having said that, many people also feel that WordPress is more prone to hacks and threats since it is popular and powers almost 30% of the websites on the internet.
So, as far as security and hosting are concerned, I’d lean more towards WordPress and LearnDash. I’d recommend you invest heavily in the security of your website as threats to your website will always exist. In a way, giving access to your data is also a certain kind of risk.
4. LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific – Can I have Design flexibility and Customization?
As far as the looks and feel of your website goes, I’m sure you’d want to have the flexibility in customizing or designing your website the way you prefer. Having the freedom to control the aesthetics of your website is pretty important.
Teachable comes with its own set of themes, and you’re free to use either of them as per your choice. However, with the basic plan, you have minimal customization options available.
To access advanced customization options, you’ll have to upgrade to their business or professional plan. There’s no need to have any technical background. But, if you wish to customize the theme code to suit your needs and convenience, you can easily do so by using HTML/CSS and template language ‘Liquid’.
On a similar note, Thinkific also lets you customize its theme code if you’re on one of its Legacy theme versions and using Pro Plan or other upgraded plans.
If you’re a developer at heart, you can easily customize the code if you’re familiar with the programming language Liquid.
Since LearnDash is an LMS plugin for WordPress, it seamlessly integrates with any modern WordPress themes and page builder plugins.
With advanced customization options available, you don’t need to possess any coding skills to design a beautiful website. However, if you want to change any WordPress functionalities to suit your needs, you can easily access the code and make edits since its open source.
To be honest, when it comes to design, all 3 LMS’ are pretty even. The aesthetic aspect of your website will ultimately depend on your experience and suitability.
But, in terms of customization, LearnDash has a slight upper hand since WordPress gives you almost unlimited design flexibility and customization.
5. LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific – Whose shoulders can I lean on for support?
Be it human relationships, technology, or business – you always need support, especially on bad days. Speaking of business and technology, having a reliable support system in place is absolutely essential to better your services.
With Teachable, if you run into any problems, the support available in terms of documentation is incredible. You can easily access its vast knowledge base, webinars, or manuals to find solutions to your LMS problems.
In case, you’re not able to resolve the issue on your own, you can also reach out to their support team through email. For quick and instant help, you can also live chat with their team members. All of this comes included in the plan you purchase.
Thinkific, on the other hand, has a great responsive team who are available via email and telephone. Their support team is one of the best in the industry.
You can access their detailed knowledge base which can act as a guide through your journey. Plus, it has a huge community base on Facebook with over 12000+ members who can help you with any issues relating to your LMS.
For LearnDash, extensive documentation is available that will help you resolve almost any issues relating to your LMS. Moreover, it has a brilliant support team with a great track record in terms of responsiveness and providing solutions.
And, LearnDash, being the most popular WordPress LMS plugin has an active community of seasoned users on Facebook. With more than 13000 members, you can receive help and guidance for your LMS from its members in an instant.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re using LearnDash, Thinkific, or Teachable. All 3 platforms stand even in this department providing incredible support services.
6. LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific – Who provides better monetization options?
At the end of the day, selling your courses matters as it generates revenues. So, having flexible pricing plans on your LMS seems fair as it will give your customers more options to access your courses at their convenience.
This LMS offers plenty of options to monetize your course. Some of these are:
- Memberships options
- One-time Payment plans
- Coupons, etc.
It also comes with built-in payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe for accepting payments. Apart from PayPal and Stripe, you can also use Apple Pay or Google Pay for accepting payments for a one-time purchase model only.
However, the only downside is – Teachable charges 5% transaction fees on each payment you receive.
With Thinkific, there are several options you can adopt to monetize your courses. Your options are:
- Subscriptions options (Only available with Stripe)
- Monthly Payment plans
- Free trials
- One-time payment, etc.
Like Teachable, this LMS also comes built-in with multiple payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe to accept payments.
However, Thinkific does not charge any transaction fees on the course purchases. Having said that, you can also opt for external payment options that are supported by Thinkific. But, make sure they are compatible with Thinkific before going ahead with external payment options.
On LearnDash, you have various monetizing options available:
- License model
- Free samples
- Shopping Carts, etc
Unlike the rest, LearnDash comes only with PayPal as a built-in payment option. However, you can use other add-ons or integrations to accept payments through other gateways like Stripe or 2Checkout.
All 3 LMS’ – Teachable, Thinkific, and LearnDash offer good flexibility in terms of providing purchase options. However, I’d slightly lean towards Thinkific or LearnDash as it doesn’t charge any transaction fees and comes with the most popular payment integrations.
7. LearnDash vs Teachable vs Thinkific – Is it worth the Price?
As a consumer or businessman, Pricing will always play a crucial factor in influencing a purchase decision. After evaluating other factors, it all comes down to choosing an LMS which is budget-friendly and satisfies all or most of your requirements.
Note: *The prices for the plans mentioned are current as of the time of posting. It may change and you’re requested to check before purchasing*
The pricing plans for Teachable LMS:
- Basic plan – $468/year
- Professional Plan – $1428/year
- Business plan – $3588/year
The pricing plans for Thinkific LMS:
- Basic plan – $588/year
- Professional plan – $1188/year
- Premier Plan – $5988/year
The pricing plans for LearnDash LMS:
- Basic plan – $159/year
- Plus plan – $189/year
- Pro plan – $329/year
On the face of it, the pricing plans for LearnDash may seem significantly lower in comparison. However, your actual cost may increase once you start using add-ons for extra functionalities.
Having said that, the pricing plans for Teachable or Thinkific aren’t cheap either.
I believe going with LearnDash makes more sense as you have the freedom to add/remove add-ons/plugins depending upon the functionalities you require. Whereas, with Teachable or Thinkific, you have to pay the same amount irrespective of the functionalities being used or not.
Over to you,
I hope this article was able to provide more valuable insights with a dash of relief for your headache 😛
You can decide to go ahead with either of the three platforms depending upon the one that fits your needs and requirements the best.
In case, you need more help figuring the best fit or have any questions for me, feel free to comment below 🙂