It’s estimated that the global eLearning market will be worth $325 billion by 2025. So if you’re interested in entering the online learning industry, now’s the time!
While developing an eLearning platform is a complicated and challenging task, this guide will help you understand the ins and outs of building your first online learning website.
Alternatively, if you’d like to understand how to develop a video-sharing website like YouTube, check out Idea Maker’s extensive guide.
What Is eLearning?
eLearning platforms are designed to provide online courses to web users. They’re an affordable way for people to develop new skills and knowledge from the comfort of their own homes.
There are many eLearning platforms, each with its own nichè and objectives. For example, Udemy is primarily focused on professional subjects, like marketing—whereas Teachable is more broadly focused across various creative and professional industries.
Most eLearning platforms are based on the SaaS business model, whereby users pay a monthly subscription fee to access online content.
Why Has eLearning Become So Popular?
Online education has exploded over the past few years for good reason. Modern life is fast-paced and we’re always looking for new ways to make the most of our time. eLearning provides an opportunity to learn new skills amid our busy lifestyles.
eLearning Is Convenient
In the past, if someone wanted to learn a new skill, they’d have to sign up for an in-person class. Then they’d have to go to a specific location on a specific day at a specific time. eLearning removes these limitations and allows people to study from anywhere in the world whenever it suits them.
eLearning Is Affordable
Traditional classes and the required textbooks and other materials can be expensive. It becomes even more expensive after you factor in travel costs. eLearning offers a more affordable solution.
eLearning Offers Flexible Learning Options
Whether they’re a stay-at-home mom or a busy professional, eLearning provides flexible learning options to suit most people’s lifestyles. Many online courses can be completed in a matter of hours or days, making it easy to fit learning into even the busiest schedules.
The outbreak of COVID-19 closed schools and universities worldwide, forcing many students to look for alternative learning options. As a result, eLearning has skyrocketed in popularity!
How to Build an Online Learning Platform
Now that you understand why online learning platforms have become so popular, you’re better positioned to build a successful online educational platform.
Select a Niche
The first step in building a successful online education platform is to define your target audience and niche. There are many types of eLearning platforms, each with a different focus. For example, some platforms provide professional development courses, while others cater to students who are looking to complete their degrees online.
Selecting a niche is critical to determining your target audience, the type of content you need to create, and which marketing strategies you should use.
Popular niches for online education platforms include:
- Professional development
- Online degrees
- Online courses for high-school students
- English-language learning
- Math learning
- Science learning
Create Compelling Content
Once you’ve selected a niche, it’s time to create compelling content. High-quality content that’s engaging and informative is the key to developing a successful online education platform.
If you’re not an experienced content creator, you should hire an expert. The quality of your content will ultimately determine your platform’s success.
Include a Variety of Content Types
Your online education platform should include a variety of content types to help keep your audience engaged—and ensure they don’t get bored!
Popular content formats include:
To drive interest and engagement, it’s a good idea to include various content types within each online course.
When building an online education platform, choosing features that enhance the learning experience is imperative. Here are a few popular features to consider.
If you plan on allowing instructors to create their own content, you’ll need to develop course-creation tools. These might include a video-editing suite and content-planning tools. Alternatively, you could follow a similar business model to TruAcademy, which allows users to build entire websites dedicated to their online courses (more on this later).
A Payment Gateway
To make money, your educational website will require a secure payment gateway. Make checkout more convenient for your users by including multiple payment options. This is especially important when you consider that 73% of consumers will leave a poorly designed website for one that makes purchasing more straightforward.
Reporting and Analytics
Consider providing your instructors with in-depth analytics about their courses. This will help them understand their demographics and enable them to improve their courses where necessary. A reporting and analytics dashboard is an excellent way to help instructors optimize and improve their programs, which will ultimately drive revenue!
Appealing Course Splash Pages
Before selecting an online class, students will want to see a detailed course overview. Most eLearning platforms provide this information via splash pages. Course splash pages should include an extensive description of the course, including a course and module breakdown, and introductory videos. This information is proven to increase engagement and boost interest in online courses.
Additional Notes on Functionality
These are just a few of the most popular online education platform features. While all of these features might not be relevant to your platform, it’s essential to choose those that will have the greatest positive impact on the user experience.
Keep in mind that your platform needs to be easy to use and navigate. If your users can’t find what they’re looking for, they’re likely to give up and look somewhere else.
Develop Your eLearning Website
The first step in developing your eLearning website is to choose the right foundation.
While many content management systems (CMS) are available, we recommend using WordPress if you opt to self-develop your online education platform. WordPress is an open-source CMS used by millions of websites worldwide. It’s easy to use, has a broad range of features, and is highly customizable.
If you decide to use WordPress, the next step is to choose a theme that controls the look and feel of your website. There are thousands of themes available, both free and premium. Choosing the right theme is essential to your platform’s success because the theme determines the degree to which your site is visually appealing and easy to navigate.
Check out Idea Maker’s extensive guide to WordPress theme development to learn how to develop your own WordPress theme from scratch.
Use a Learning Management System (LMS)
If you lack the technical skills to build an online learning platform using WordPress, you should consider using a Learning Management System instead. TruAcademy is an LMS that lets users create dedicated eLearning websites. It comes with several intuitive features, including a drag-and-drop landing page editor and a quiz creator.
Using an LMS has many benefits—primarily quick setup and ease of use. However, they often lack customization options, which makes it difficult to scale your eLearning business as it grows. However, since LMS are based on the SaaS business model, functionality upgrades are typically available.
Be aware that if you plan to offer a comprehensive eLearning platform on which teachers can build their own courses, an LMS is probably not the right choice. However, they’re an excellent option if you’re just planning to provide a course or two yourself.
Hire Expert Development Team
If you lack technical expertise and want complete control over your eLearning platform’s design and functionality, you should consider hiring an expert developer. While this is usually the most expensive option, it’ll give you a platform that’s completely tailored to your needs.
Here are some important things to consider when shopping for a web developer.
First and foremost, you’ll want to check out their portfolio. Ideally, they’ll have experience building eLearning platforms—otherwise, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to build the platform you need.
A Development Procedure
A competent developer will follow a clear development procedure for all of their projects. This should include an initial consultation to discuss your requirements, followed by a specific development methodology.
It’s also essential to make sure that they understand the eLearning industry. This will help ensure they build a platform that’s aligned with your specific needs and requirements.
You should also make sure they offer post-release support, such as bug fixing and security patches. This is essential to ensuring that your platform is always up to date and running smoothly.
Many development firms claim to offer post-development support but not all follow through on their promises. A good trick for determining the quality of a firm’s post-development support is to examine their existing websites. If those live sites operate correctly, they probably provide genuine support.
Gather Feedback & Enhance
After your eLearning website has been deployed, you’ll want to pay close attention to how instructors and students interact with the platform. Gather feedback by contacting users directly through email or by implementing a survey feature on the platform. Make changes based on the feedback you receive.
If you’ve decided to hire a development team, you’ll need to work closely with them to ensure that required modifications are made quickly. Making these changes based on user feedback will make them feel valued—and enhance the user experience. To ensure that the insights are valid, be careful to choose a representative sample size before conducting feedback surveys.
In addition to modifying your platform based on user feedback, you should also make sure to keep your site optimized. For example, you must ensure that your page load times remain fast. Slow load times impact your site’s SEO score and SERP rankings.
Check out Idea Maker’s guide to on and off-page SEO to learn more about why you should consider SEO when building a website.
How to Monetize Your Online Learning Platform
After investing a great deal of time and money into developing an eLearning platform, you’ll want it to be worthwhile. This means finding a way to monetize your platform. There are several popular ways to do this.
If you’re offering courses, you could charge instructors a commission for every student that signs up for their course. This is a popular monetization method among eLearning platforms since it doesn’t require an up-front investment to create content.
If your platform helps users to learn new skills or improve existing ones, you could offer certificates. These could be awarded digitally after the user passes a fee-based online test.
A Tiered Pricing Model
Charge users a monthly or yearly subscription fee for access to all the features and content on your site. Alternatively, you could offer a tiered pricing model that charges users more to access certain features.
For example, you could offer a basic subscription that gives users access to your platform’s content—and a premium subscription that provides access to exclusive content and extra features (e.g., 1:1 coaching sessions).
PPC ads generate ad revenue every time they’re clicked. To be effective, they must be strategically placed. For example, placing them beside popular content is likely to result in a lot of traffic.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a policy that protects your site from copyright infringement claims. If you allow instructors to upload their own courses to your platform, you’ll need to have a DMCA policy in place.
Without a DMCA policy, you could be held liable for any copyrighted material that’s uploaded to your site. Read our extensive guide to find out more about the DMCA and how to avoid copyright infringement.
eLearning Website Development from Idea Maker
If you’re looking to develop an online learning platform but lack the time or technical expertise, consider Idea Maker. We have a team of dedicated experts ready to build a unique website to your specifications. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.