WPLMS vs LearnDash: A Low-down

    Tahseen Kazi
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wplms-vs-learndash-blogA question I have been fielding for quite some time from within the organization as well as outside of it, is ‘which online LMS to use between WPLMS and LearnDash?. (Well, of course, there are others learning management systems which we work with, but just somehow these two always seem to always be a difficult choice)

Frankly, I have been quite confused myself too! With the awesomeness both the systems provide I sometimes feel like I want to have the best of both worlds.

So, the question to be answered here is what makes each of these learning management systems a winner in its own right.

Winning Features in WPLMS

1. Instructor Role

Here’s what a reader had commented on one of my previous articles on WPLMS.


While LearnDash is now integrated with bbPress, the one major point of contention end users have, and which Ludovic has rightly pointed out is that LearnDash does not have an instructor role. It is a feature that users are often looking for and that’s where WPLMS often makes a clean sweep.

Not Anymore (An Update – 26 May 2015)

When I had written this post in January, the Instructor Role was definitely a winning feature for WPLMS. While nothing has changed on the WPLMS front, the scenario at the LearnDash end is quite different. While the core plugin has not changed there is now an add-on available to include the Instructor Role to your LearnDash website.

So, as far as Instructor Role is concerned the two eLearning systems are pretty much even now!



2. Front End Course Creation

Another area where WPLMS scores brownie points is the front end course creation option provided to instructors, making the process straightforward and effortless for instructors.

(Update – 26 October 2015)

With the Front-end Course Creation plugin, LearnDash admins can allow certain users to create courses from the front-end.

3. Integration with BuddyPress

Due to its distant nature communication becomes an important aspect in online learning management systems. Considering this requirement, a social networking site for your eLearning website becomes essential. That’s where the integration with BuddyPress is a plus point for your LMS as the integration provides a comprehensive list of features offered by BuddyPress, one of the most popular social networking plugins in WordPress.

4. Complete Solution

Last but not the least, WPLMS is a ‘THEME’ which means it covers the looks as well as the functionalities without you having to go scouting for a separate theme to meet your graphical interface requirements which means the ride to building an online learning management system just became simpler.


Winning Features in LearnDash

1. Integrated with Multiple eCommerce Systems

The makers of LearnDash have gone to great lengths to make this plugin feasible for the users, and making it compatible with several eCommerce systems is one of their many efforts towards doing so. LearnDash has been made compatible with WooCommerce, Jigoshop, and Easy Digital Downloads thereby allowing users to pick their choice of eCommerce system instead of restricting them to a single eCommerce system like in WPLMS. For that LearnDash definitely gets a thumbs up

2. Elaborate Quiz Module

Another winning feature of LearnDash is its elaborate quiz module. And when I say elaborate, I am not exaggerating even an ounce! With 7 different question types, option to add any media, option to limit time spent on the quiz by students, certificate and levels……well the list goes on an on. Why don’t you take a look at the LearnDash quiz options yourselves!

3. It is ACTUALLY Plug-n-Play

When the developers of LearnDash say the plugin is plug-n-play, they mean it. Having worked on several LearnDash customizations for clients with different themes, the last thing we have had to worry about is compatibility issues with the theme. Kudos on that one!

You can also check out this list of Best LearnDash Themes that are just as compatible and easy to work with.

4. Comprehensive User Reports

With the recent LearnDash ProPanel version, LearnDash has paid heed to the many requests from users and released this comprehensive reporting feature which allows users to generate various reports based on courses and students through the use of easy to use search filter.


WPLMS vs LearnDash: The Common Ground

While each system has it’s winning features, it is the commonalities that make it a difficult choice between the two. Each system allows users to create courses, enroll students to these courses, drip feed content to enrolled students, set up quizzes, view progress reports etc etc etc (*sigh*). Further, both have been made compatible with bbPress, BadgeOS, Tin Can API, and Paid Membership Pro making life extremely uncomplicated for the users. On the costing front, both are quite reasonably priced.

WPLMS vs LearnDash: Using the Two Together

The reason for this entire post to have started in the first place is the following question from a client.

“I want the instructor user role from WPLMS and the quizzes from LearnDash. So, can I use both the systems together?”

While at first I was stumped by the question, I started looking out for the answers leading me to find this resourceful thread on the WPLMS support forum.

In this thread, what Mr. Vibe essentially says is that while both are compatible you will end up losing a few functionalities in WPLMS, leading to it becoming mostly becomes a graphical interface. As for my client, the answer was a clear NO as his primary requirement remained unfulfilled.


WPLMS vs LearnDash: Final Word

Here’s my final take on the two systems.

  • For those with already existing websites, you can go with LearnDash as you are not looking for a complete solution but just functionalities.
  • For those starting out with a new website can take either path based on which winning features are important for you!

The important thing to remember while making the choice is that the system should fit your needs and not vice versa. Also, there’s always room for customization based on individual requirements right?

Is there something that is still unclear to you? Have I missed out on something? Do you have a specific query pertaining to the systems? Get in touch with me through the comments section and I shall get back to you with answers!

Until then, Adios!


Tahseen Kazi

Tahseen Kazi

26 Responses

  1. I have wplms but am considering switching to learn dash. I have been told that as wplms is a theme I will not really be able to move my materials if I want to update the look or theme of the site in the future. If this is the case, then that is a lot of extra work that is not required if I use the learn dash as a plug in and this could make a big difference.

    1. Hi Sarah, if you like the look of WPLMS there shouldn’t really be a need to change your theme as WPLMS is completely feature rich and the developers are continually scaling up the system. However, what you have been told is indeed true that you will not be able to move website data if you change your theme. As far as customization is concerned, it has often been observed by our developers that it is possible but can become difficult sometimes due to the tightly knit nature of the theme.

  2. WPLMS is not just a theme. From their page
    “..The Theme package includes 8 custom plugins…”
    Besides I don’t think you can ‘store’ materials in a theme. Everything gets saved in WP. Hence I think changing the look shouldn’t be a big deal.

    1. Yes, you are absolutely correct! WPLMS is not just a theme, it is a custom package that comes with a bundle of plugins. But it is important to understand that the data from the plugins is tied to the theme. So while you might not lose your data per se you will not be able to map it with a new learning management system. This would also mean that while you can change the way your theme looks (styling, design and layout) you cannot change the theme itself.

  3. If the WPLMS is better due to its instructor role (with a dashbord integrated in the theme), the LearnDash is very powerful thanks to its quizzes options. Is there any way to integrate the “Wp Pro Quiz” used by LearnDash to the “WPLMS” ? That qould be a very intersting combination !

    1. Amine, I agree with you that the quiz module by LearnDash is powerful which makes it a much a preferred option for most users.

      I am not sure if you have noticed though that this article has been updated after it was first posted to include some updates. The instructor role for LearnDash happens to be one of the updates. If the instructor role is the sole reason you are veering towards WPLMS then the Instructor Role Extension for LearnDash is something you might be interested to take a look at.


  4. I’ve been building a site using WPLMS for about a week now. Whilst it looks good and there are plenty of options, it has made the site REALLY slow and the memory usage exceptionally high. It requires 8 plugins to enable all the options. Thats before you integrate with PMpro (membership) and you e-commerce solution…

    To be honest i’m considering switching over to Learndash…. But WPLMS looks GOOD!

    1. Hi Chris, you have brought up a very interesting point out there.

      There is a high possibility that your website might be slow because of WPLMS. But it might not necessarily be the case. There can be several other reasons such as images, caching etc that can lead to a slow website. Have you tried analyzing your website to find out what is causing the issue?
      You probably already know of this but if you don’t is a good website to analyze site speed.

      Now that you have been tinkering around with WPLMS for the last week you might have reached a certain level of comfort with the interface and I wouldn’t want you to go through the hassle of learning a new system for nothing. 🙂 My recommendation to you would be to be sure about the actual reason for your website being slow. That way you will be able to make an informed decision.

      Is there anything I could do to help you out?

      1. Hi Tahseen,

        Yes, i’ve used gtmetrix and also installed W3 total cache. I’m now installing MAXCDN…

        I think the issue is that to get a good LMS site up and running you also need a multitude of other plugins, ecommerce , membership etc. this all adds to the slow down. Also with everything i need my memory usage is just over 100mb.

        I used P3 Profiler to take a look at the load times and my plugin load time is currently 4 seconds. It’s hard to judge the WPLMS impact as it’s broken down into so many plugins. I can see that Paid Membership Pro is causing 1.3 seconds of load all by itself! Which is a shame as it is the only integrated membership plugin for WPLMS.

        But anyway…… your right there’s no guarantee it will be any faster changing over and I don’t really need to re-build right now.

        Thanks for the reply

  5. Hey – I am using WPLMS and we have a major issue. When someone logs out half way through a scorn courses, when they log back in it always start from the beginning. I cant find a solution to this and neither can my developer. Any suggestions?

  6. Another BIG factor is cost. If you plan to sell your courses, WPLMS requires an Extended License which is currently $3200. This makes LearnDash a no-brainer in my book.

      1. Malkuth, did you ask the theme’s author or Envato support directly? If Envato, could you let me know which support rep told you this? I’ve talked with them several times and each time, they stick their story about the Extended license being required. See my longer post at the bottom of this comments section.

  7. I was considering WPLMS to sell my courses by I don’t think it makes sense to cough out $3,200 to purchase the Extended License. This is way too much for a small business that is just experimenting.
    Are you sure this is the case?
    On the contrary, please, which themes are easily integrateable with LearnDash?

    1. Hi John,

      You need to purchase the extended license only in case you want to package the theme along with other products and sell it.

      Or else the theme is available at $64 (with 6 months support) and $19.20 for additional 12 months support.

      Are you looking for a theme to replace LearnDash or work with LearnDash?

  8. Unfortunately, the Extended License is indeed required if you plan to sell your courses using WPLMS. I’ve talked with two separate reps at Envato support regarding this matter and each have told me the same exact thing – Extended License is required if your site charges for membership. Here’s the last message they sent me:

    “The need for an extended license versus a regular license will depend on how the end product will be distributed.

    Regular licenses are meant for items used in end products that are accessible without extra fees. In the case of websites, it applies to sites which visitors can access free of charge. This includes eCommerce sites, as visitors pay for the physical products and services available, which the theme/template is not implemented into, and not actually for access to the site.

    Extended licenses allow you to use the item in an end product which in turn is sold, with the authors permission. If the site charges a membership or a fee to be able to access content/functionality, then, an extended license is required. **The perfect example for this would be an eLearning website, where people are charged to access content/courses in the site.**

    – If you are making a website for yourselves or business, you should get a regular license
    – If you are making a website so you can sell the result to someone else, you should get a regular license
    – If you are going to charge a fee to use the website in any way you need to get an extended license
    – If you are selling products with an integrated shopping cart, you can get a regular license
    – If you need to use the same item for another website, you need to get another regular license.”

    I wish it weren’t true because there’s a lot of really great themes at Themeforest but their licensing costs are ridiculous.

    1. About the extended license cost, I’ve found this explanation:

      “The extended license has been disabled for WPLMS to avoid this very confusion among purchasers. One commercial usage of WPLMS = 1 regular license. However, this does not give the right to use WPLMS is an external package and resell it as a product.
      For more you can always consult”

      1. Unfortunately that post is from over 2 years ago and the Extended License is back. I understand the theme author intended WPLMS to be sold for resale courses and so for the benefit of buyers who wish to remain kosher, he should stop selling it through ThemeForest where their restrictive licensing doesn’t allow for it (unless spending $$$$).

    2. You are totally wrong! The extended license is necessary if you plan to sell the template to someone else. Think about a web agency. If they want to sell their services on top of the template and the template is part of the end product, than you need an extended license. What you are trying to achieve is building a regular website for your own use. Standard license is perfect and fine!

      1. Hi lecommand, I’m annoyed by Envato’s licensing too but what I report above is straight from the horse’s mouth. I know it *seems* we should be able to use the standard license but Envato has said otherwise when I questioned them directly on this topic multiple times. Sorry.

  9. WPLMS is terrible. Requires over a dozen other plugins (some of which require registration on their own). Setup is nasty and the database becomes a beast almost instantly. A totally unusable solution. Too bad, it looked awesome from the screenshots and demos!

  10. We’ve been using WPLMS on 5 sites for 5 years now so it is useable but admittedly tricky to setup and requires a managed WordPress host for performance. Also, you’ll need some to debug on updates. That said it has more features than the competition once you get it going.

  11. Hi Tahseen, thanks for this post. I think i will go for Learndash. I made my site with a free theme from WordPress (GO Theme). Do you recommend me to purchase a better theme and then install Learndash?

  12. Hi,

    I’ve been using Leandash with woocommerce multi-vendor and multi-instructor-role plugin and I’m happy with it except for the following points.

    1- Learndash membership is disappointing.

    2- Interface for instructors to create courses is horrible. It scares new instructors to almost death! It is not suited for human living in 2020, what more in 2021!

    I am now considering WPLMS because of its apparent easy for instructors to create courses through their mobile devices and non-WP looking interface when creating courses using a computer.

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