Last updated - October 15, 2018
e-Learning is all the rage now since people find it a lot more convenient to get certifications or degrees ‘on the go’. It’s easier to study at one’s own pace than juggle the stress and constraints of a classroom course along with a job, degree, or business. As the age boundaries for learning are blurring, a lot of institutes and teaching organizations are moving their courses to the virtual platform.
WordPress is a popular choice for hosting e-Learning courses for the most part because of its flexibility, ease of use, and economic feasibility. The fact that it’s a free platform makes for a strong reason as well. However, if you want to set up a proper e-Learning website that has all the features and functionalities of a successful venture, then you should be prepared to shell out a few bucks on setting it up. And that’s apart from the hosting cost.
Today we are going to tell you the cost of building an e-Learning site on WordPress, so that you get a fair idea of the investment you might need to make.
Setting up an e-Learning site on WordPress – What does it cost?
Here are some of the costs that you will incur, and an estimate of what it will come to.
Domain name and WordPress hosting
A self-hosted website needs a domain name and hosting. A self-hosted website means “abc.com” and not “abc.wordpress.com”. The domain name is the address of the website (like google.com or wpin.me), and the hosting is like a street and apartment where your website is located. There are a lot of companies and websites that exclusively offer hosting services.
As for costing, a domain can cost anything between $9.99 to $14.99 annually. Hosting costs vary greatly, from as low as $5 to as high as $80 per month. Typically, hosting plans are priced around $60/year. If you use your web hosting provider’s services to buy a domain name, then they typically offer some discounts.
Usually web hosting providers provide a single plan for hosting and domain name, which also includes WordPress setup and maintenance, which is great if you aren’t tech savvy or adept with WordPress; in which case you could consider a dedicated WordPress hosting service.
You can read more about WordPress Hosting solutions here.
Plugins for your e-learning website
To host an e-Learning website, you will need a Learning Management System (LMS), and e-Commerce and Forms plugins for selling courses or accepting subscriptions.
Check out this list of top WordPress LMS plugins, and you will find that LearnDash LMS has the most features and is a great option if you are willing to dish out a few extra bucks. The list of features and functionalities that LearnDash offers is stupendous. LifterLMS is another option that’s worth checking out. If you’re on a budget, you could consider LearnPress, as it’s a free plugin.
Owing to its popularity, we will be looking at the cost of choosing LearnDash, it’s advantages, and the plugins you will need for your website.
Features of LearnDash
- Course content levels and course prerequisites
- Drip feed content
- Lesson timers
- Group creation
- Advanced quizzes and assignment management
- Sell courses or memberships
- Sell subscriptions or course bundles
Cost of the plugin is $159 (for support and updates for a year).
Additional plugins that go well with LearnDash are:
WooCommerce to sell your courses – WooCommerce and its integration for LearnDash are free.
Contact Form 7 – Create forms on your site with this free plugin
bbPress – Discussion forums are vital on an e-learning website to encourage communication and collaboration and increase engagement. bbPress is used to create discussion forums
BadgeOS – Add badges to amplify gamification and increase the competitive spirit among students
BuddyPress – Create a social network and advanced group management
Instructor Role – Great for creating a multi-author website or a course marketplace. Cost of the plugin is $29 for a single site.
Ratings, Reviews and Feedback – Get feedback from students as well as ratings for the course, and enhance your web presence. Cost of the plugin is $29.
Plugins that are good to have –
Student engagement tools include LearnDash notes (to provide a classroom-like note taking experience) and LearnDash notifications (to quickly send updates).
LearnDash Gradebook is used for some advanced grading options
Group Registration is of great help in seamlessly and easily enrolling multiple students into the course
Total cost of these plugins averages at $120. That’s just the cost of purchase though; you will need to invest some time in setting them up and getting them running.
The cost of website design depends on the cost of the theme as well as charges of the designer, should you choose to employ external help. If you are doing it yourself, a theme can cost you anything from $0 (free theme) to $129 (premium theme). Getting a designer on board can cost you anywhere from $300 to $30,000. A greater part of the cost includes the designer’s fees.
The reason behind this is the planning and customization that goes into designing. You have to take into account your brand, layout and presentation, responsiveness across various devices, compatibility and performance of the various plugins separately and together, and provide a seamless viewing and interaction experience.
If you are using LearnDash, these two themes are extremely compatible with it –
eLumine is a theme built exclusively for learning. It is a flexible, intuitive theme that’s easy to set up, has ample documentation to get started, and offers a lot of features that are course-focused. You can customize your website for layouts, appearances, UX and UI to give your students a seamless learning experience.
Social Learner puts greater stress on making your eLearning website more collaborative. It offers layouts and functionalities that encourage more interaction among students, with a social media like layout and features. It is also quite customizable, and has greater stress on gamification.
Most people don’t take website maintenance into account in the building stages, but it’s important if you want your website running smoothly. If you do not consider it at the beginning, you will have to later on. Maintenance includes regular data backups, security checks, upgrades and testing for bugs. You can do WordPress maintenance yourself or opt for a dedicated maintenance service (recommended).
DIY cost:- $0
Depending on the services you choose, your total costs per year can average from $1000 to $5000 annually. Hence, fix your annual budget beforehand and then choose your site hosting services, themes, designer fees, plugins and maintenance. Don’t forget that even if you are doing some things by yourself, your effort and time are expended. And these cannot be valued in numbers. So choose what you can do, what you need to outsource, and how much time you can afford to spend on various activities. It will help you create and maintain a budget for your website for a long time to come.
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