When you’re creating an e-Learning site (or any type of site), choosing the right online course theme becomes a very important part of the process. With the right theme, your site looks and feels professional and also trustworthy.
The user experience of your visitors also depends to a large extent on your theme. This becomes even more important while building an online course platform because your visitors are going to be learners and students who’ll spend a lot of time on your site.
However, choosing the right e-Learning theme is easier said than done. There are literally hundreds of thousands of online course themes available in the WordPress ecosystem, and finding the right one that’s also compatible with your Learning Management System (LMS) is not easy.
But we’re going to make it easy for you. In this article, we will be talking about the various popular WordPress LMS plugins and the best themes for each plugin.
Identifying the Best WordPress LMS Plugins
When it comes to popular LMS plugins available in the WordPress ecosystem, the choices are many. However, all those choices can be categorized into two subsets: paid LMS options and free LMS options!
Premium WordPress LMS Plugins
Unarguably the most popular choice as a WordPress LMS, LearnDash comes with very high scalability and a very reliable support team. There’s a reason why it’s trusted not only by hundreds of thousands of individual teachers but also by corporations and even universities.
Its add-on library is huge, and there’s hardly any feature that you can’t add to it with the help of hundreds of free as well as premium add-ons that are available in the WordPress marketplace.
LearnDash licenses start from $159 per year.
Developed in 2012, WP Courseware is another popular premium LMS plugin in the WordPress ecosystem. It powers more than 21,800 websites across the world, establishing its popularity among course creators.
It has all the essential features of an LMS, like drag-and-drop course builder, drip-feeding of content, and professional support. However, the library of its add-ons is not as rich as LearnDash, which limits your capabilities to some extent.
WP Courseware licenses start from $124.5 per year.
Free WordPress LMS Plugins
If you want a free LMS for your e-Learning site, then LearnPress is the solution for you. It has got a drag-and-drop course builder, a large library of add-ons like LearnDash, and a backend UI that looks great.
The support is fine – neither too good, nor too bad. And most of the time you won’t need the support, because it is easy to use and goes well with all popular themes and plugins.
Another free WordPress LMS is LifterLMS. The key difference between LearnPress and LifterLMS is the cost of add-ons. While LearnPress add-ons cost less, LifterLMS add-ons cost a bit more.
And since you’ll need at least a few add-ons with both of them to build your site, the costs collectively add-up. However, if you can afford it then LifterLMS can be a better choice because of the quality of its extensions and support.
Developed by the developers of WooCommerce, Sensei is also a free LMS that you can use to set up your e-Learning site. The main USP of this plugin is easier, better integration with WooCommerce.
That being said, it’s not among the easiest LMS options out in the market – there’s a significant learning curve involved with it. Aside from that, it has also not been updated much with new features since 2015 – only bug fixes and security patches have been released.
Now when you know about various WordPress LMS options available in the market, let’s take a look at some of the popular online course themes that are available for each of them.
Top Online Course Themes for LearnDash
As mentioned before, LearnDash is the most popular LMS in the WordPress ecosystem.
And one of the many reasons behind it is that it works with most of the themes that are out in the market. However, here we’ll take a look at some of the best themes for LearnDash.
Developed by WisdmLabs, eLumine is a versatile theme that has every feature that you may need to create your LearnDash-based site.
It has default grid layouts, focus mode, multilingual support, easy demo import, and multiple layouts for the homepage, shop page as well as course pages.
For the serious course builders, eLumine is bundled with a bunch of premium extensions (i.e. Instructor Role, Quiz Reporting, Group Registrations, etc.) in the LearnDash Essential Add-ons Pack that can significantly increase the simplicity of student enrollment and course management in your site. In addition, in its latest update, the eLumine theme has introduced super-fast page load times, making it one of the fastest e-Learning themes available for LearnDash.
eLumine licenses start at $100.
The next best theme for LearnDash is Astra Pro. It’s one of the most popular multipurpose themes, and it integrates amazingly well with LearnDash too. In fact, it has got a separate settings panel for LearnDash integration. And since it’s not just a theme but also a page builder, its customization capabilities are huge. There’s hardly any theme in the WordPress ecosystem that’s as versatile and customizable as this one.
However, this customization also comes with a learning curve – you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time to learn your way around it. Another drawback is that Astra is essentially a multipurpose theme, so all of its features are not designed solely as per the requirements of e-Learning sites.
The price of Astra Pro starts from $59. It also has a free version, but that version doesn’t come with a dedicated LearnDash settings panel so the integration isn’t as good as it can be in Astra Pro.
The third popular LearnDash theme in our list is the BuddyBoss theme for LearnDash.
Developed by the team behind BuddyPress, it’s a theme that can be best used when you want to create a community of learners by combining forums, groups and other social features, and not just a simple learning site. If you want to implement these features, you’ll certainly need BuddyPress. And that’s when you can utilize the most of this theme because its features have been designed to integrate amazingly with BuddyPress.
The pricing of BuddyBoss for LearnDash starts from $228.
If you are confused as to which LearnDash theme you should choose, you can try comparing these three to see which suits your requirements best.
Top Online Course Themes for LifterLMS
The number of themes available for LifterLMS is nowhere close to the number of themes compatible with LearnDash, but still, there are plenty of good options available in the market. We tried looking for the best ones among them, and here are the 3 themes that we found:
As its name suggests, it’s a theme developed by the developers of LifterLMS itself, so compatibility and integration with the plugin are not any issues at all.
As far as its features are concerned, it comes with a complete set of customization options that allow you to change almost every aspect of your site’s design. It also comes with Google fonts integration, which means you can use almost any type of fonts on your site.
If you like it then you can purchase LifterLMS Launchpad for $99.99.
It’s very rare to find a free theme having as many features as OceanWP, including compatibility with LifterLMS. With more than 2.7 million downloads, it’s one of the most popular and fastest-growing themes in the entire WordPress theme universe.
Completely SEO-ready code, fast-loading pages, and multilingual support with RTL are a few of its major features. You can see the demo of a learning site created with it here.
OceanWP is a free theme.
Developed by ThemeIsle, Neve is a highly versatile theme that is still being developed actively with new features being added every few weeks. Built with a mobile-first approach, it’s a very fast and lightweight theme having compatibility with most popular page builders so you can design the pages of your e-Learning site as you wish.
It also has many demo sites aimed at e-Learning (like this one) that you can import to set up your site quickly.
Though it’s also available as a free download, if you want to maximize the features and benefits then you can get a paid version of Neve for $47.
Top Online Course Themes for LearnPress
The special thing about LearnPress is that it has built a library of its own themes that work very well with it. And many of those themes give other premium themes that are compatible with LearnPress a run for their money. So we decided to include 3 such themes developed by ThimPress – the company behind LearnPress – in our list:
It’s evident from the name of this theme that it has been created while keeping education in mind. Therefore, it’s natural that it has got some features that are especially useful for e-Learning sites.
For example, it comes with specially designed pages for individual lessons, a pack of add-ons aimed at improving the learning experience of your site, and more than 20 demos – all of them based on various types of university or learning sites.
Since it has been developed by the developers of LearnPress, it’s natural that it goes very well with it.
You can purchase Eduma for $69.
Another theme developed by the team behind LearnPress, Coaching WP comes with multiple header layouts, one-click demo importer, parallax effect, drag and drop page builder, Fancy Events plugin, Revolution Slider plugin (worth $18), Google Fonts integration and SEO optimized code – pretty much everything that you would want to see in a modern theme.
If you don’t like Eduma and its demos, maybe Coaching WP can fulfill your needs. The price of this theme is $59.
Though its name is Language School, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for creating a site that teaches something else.
It’s a fantastic theme with many unique features that can be used to create an e-Learning site of any type. Some of its unique features include the ability to save content parts as templates that can be reused on other pages easily, 4 unique layouts, section options to group your content in various sections, and a custom form builder.
Language School is priced at $49.
Top Online Course Themes for Sensei
Since Sensei is developed and maintained by Automattic – the company behind WordPress – it’s not difficult to find compatible online course themes for it. There are many options available, but the 3 best ones in our opinion are:
Skilled comes with many paid plugins that would otherwise cost you hundreds of dollars, and it supports all Sensei features like Course Progress widget, course analytics, quiz grading, a question bank, etc.
The premium plugins that come free with it include Contact Form 7, Event Calendar and WooCommerce, so you don’t need to purchase any of them separately.
The specialty of this theme is that it not only supports Sensei but also BuddyPress and BBPress, which means that if you want to build a community of learners on your site, there won’t be a problem with this theme. You’ll be able to add forums, groups, messaging and other social features easily.
Other features include in-built page builder, WPML ready code, an event calendar, quiz grading system, course analytics support and much more than that.
WPLMS is not just a theme but an entire Social Learning Management System.
There is a lot of stuff that differentiates it from other themes in the league – there’s activity tracking, which allows you to see what your students are doing in your courses; course directories that can be added to your site and searched by your students on the basis of various filters; a front-end course creator for your instructors and also easy course management from the front-end itself.
You can get WPLMS for $75.
Top Online Course Themes for WP Courseware
Finally, let’s take a look at some themes that are compatible with WP Courseware. The developers of this plugin say that it works with most themes, but we’ve tested its compatibility with following online course themes so we are sharing only 3 tried and tested options here:
In-built page builder, bbPress support, event management, course management, and a built-in calendar are some of the major features of this popular WordPress theme. It comes with the Slider Revolution plugin included, which you can use to build great slider animations for your homepage.
It also includes an easy demo importer that you can use to import any of its 7 demo sites to easily set up your own site.
The price of the University theme is $49.
Invent is among those few LMS themes which are still being developed actively with new features being added on a regular basis.
It comes with more than 30 different page builder elements, 16+ different widgets, 60+ shortcodes that can be used to easily customize almost every element of your site and child theme support. It also comes with a shortcode builder of its own, which you can use to generate shortcodes for various purposes.
Invent is priced at $59.
According to its developers, Course Builder Kit – previously known as Course Builder LMS theme – has been trusted by more than 20,000 instructors worldwide, with good reason.
CB Kit comes with 6 different demos, all of them aimed at various types of e-Learning sites, drag and drop course builder, support for 5 different payment gateways, and multiple beautiful layout options along with a powerful customizer.
The price of the Course Builder Kit theme is $64.
Wrapping up: How to select the right online course theme?
Choosing the right theme for your e-Learning site is not difficult if you know the right factors to look for.
You should look for the loading speed, compatibility with your LMS, SEO optimization features, easy demo import functionality, and support quality of developers while selecting your theme. And that’s precisely how we selected these themes for our list. You too can choose one for yourself from this list by comparing the shortlisted themes on these parameters.
So what are you waiting for? Just select your theme, set it up, and share your experience with it in the comments. We’d love to hear your feedback!