Learning Management System Comparison

We've done the research for you, and created an assortment of in-depth comparisons for the top LMS and membership tools. This information is meant to help you make the right decisions for your business, right now.

What is the best LMS for your needs?

There’s no one perfect LMS tool that does it all. Instead, there are great LMS options that suit different markets and applications.

For example, if you’re looking for a Learning Management System for a school or University, you’ll want different features and integrations than a business owner or corporate trainer might need.

You know what you want to use this teaching software for, but not every LMS platform has clearly spelled out who they serve.

On this page you’ll find LMS software that is designed for small business owners selling online courses, as well as schools, and corporate training.

How to approach your LMS software comparison

Before we dive into the different LMS software solutions on the market and how they compare to each other, you need to get clear on what hosting approach is best for you and your needs.

There are two main ways to set up an LMS for your business or school:

1. Platform-as-a-Service

In this model, you can upload your course materials, manage members, and get everything up and running without setting up a lot of infrastructure.

It’s like renting a “move in ready” place.

You don’t have as much flexibility in terms of what you can add or change, because you’re not the true owner of the platform. Just like when you’re renting, the owners might not let you add a new room or remove any walls.

The benefit of a Platform-as-a-Service LMS is that you can test your idea for your courses, and often hit the ground running faster.

Many business owners start off on these hosted platforms, make some good money, and then realize that they want to own their platform and get more control over how their courses are delivered.

That’s often when they turn to a self-hosted Software-as-a-Service option, but sometimes the task of migrating from one LMS to another can be a pain and cause a lot of headaches.

That’s why deciding on your long term vision for your courses can help eliminate migration issues and lost revenue down the line.

2. Software-as-a-Service

If Platform-as-a-Service LMS options are like renting, then Software-as-a-Service combined with your own website host is all about complete ownership.

When you build your own house, you get to decide exactly where everything goes and how big you want it to get.

That’s the benefit of using a content management system like WordPress with extensible add-ons like plugins and themes. You also get to pick which website host you want to use, and you can always choose to backup, export, or move your entire course library at any time.

There’s a good reason that over 36% of the web is powered by the WordPress software, which is open source and has a large dedicated community of developers, designers, and experts to support it.

With WordPress you can choose from many different LMS plugins, membership and payment solutions, and design options along the way.

We’ll explore more of these in detail here.

What matters most to LMS users in 2020?

Last year online businesses were caught off guard by compliance with GDPR and new regulations.

In 2020 what matters most to online course creators is their ability to get online quickly and to meet people where they’re at while they’re sheltering in place.

Even more importantly, business owners and online teachers are looking for more ways to keep their members engaged through things like gamification and interactive communities.

Although online learning through mobile apps is still a hot topic, the focus in 2020 is on ease of use and engagement for new users.

Laptop with words Online Learning in 2020

LMS comparison methodology

Now let’s look at what most of us naturally do when we start comparing LMS options.

The first two things that many of us who are in the market for an LMS look at are the features and pricing.

These absolutely are important to consider, but it’s also good to look at other less tangible things that can impact your use of the LMS software long term. For example, customer support and ongoing development can make a huge difference in your experience with a product.

The same goes for how a tool integrates with your existing tech stack, and the values of a company and what they stand for.

Let’s take a closer look at all of these considerations:

3 cellphones with screenshots of 3 different LMS solutions

Features

Let’s face it: if an LMS tool doesn’t do what you need it to do, then it’s not a good solution for your needs.

But feature lists can be confusing, because your understanding of a feature might be different from someone else’s.

For example, if you need to white label your courses and sell bulk licenses, you might think that “groups” will handle your needs. Yet different LMS platforms might not give you the exact way you want to sell to groups, so you need to dig in, try a demo, or ask questions before you buy.

Price

Choosing an LMS based on your budget is important, because no software tool should break the bank. That being said, it’s hard to compare pricing boxes because there are often other costs involved with setting up an LMS or membership site.

Sometimes you’ll end up paying transaction fees on each sale, or you’ll be required to invest in additional integration software or other tools to make it work.

It’s also important to consider the cost of switching down the line, if you end up requiring more features of growing out of the first LMS you pick.

Often it can cost you more to move from a cheaper solution than it would have to have paid a bit more for a long term LMS option from the start.

Customer Support

This is a big one: how you’re treated when you ask questions or need help with the LMS software matters!

Some software companies outsource their support to other vendors, some offer chat support, phone support, or email support.

Then there’s the health of the user community around a Learning Management System.

  • Is there an active Facebook group you can go to for extra inspiration and support?
  • Are there are trained experts you can hire to help you get started with this new tech tool?
  • Can you jump on a call with someone at the LMS company for extra help if you get stuck or want to talk through your strategic questions?

This is an often overlooked aspect when comparing LMS apps.

Depth of Integration

Another important consideration in your LMS search is whether the integrations available will work the way you need them to.

Essentially, will your LMS integrate deeply with your existing tech stack and reporting tools?

For example, you might see that an LMS lists your email marketing platform on their integrations page. But does it has two-way integration, where both systems can send data to each other — or is it a one way push integration?

These are the types of questions to ask before you buy and start implementing, and feel stuck in the LMS you picked.

Ongoing development

It can be hard to tell from a learning management’s company website how actively they are developing their software.

Some companies have built out their core features and have moved onto other projects or development priorities, while others are actively adding new functionality on a regular basis.

While you might not need additional features right now, you don’t want to get stuck on an LMS platform that isn’t evolving and growing with the market as online learning continues to mature.

Company Values

Finally, an often overlooked aspect of buying software is looking at what kind of company you’re supporting with your hard earned dollars.

It might feel like all LMS companies are interchangeable, but there are real humans at the other end of the screen who are passionate and care about things beyond their software work.

Look for a company that aligns with your values and has a mission you can get behind.

Now that you know how to compare LMS software, let’s get into the side-by-side comparisons!

WordPress LMS Comparison Table

If you’ve decided that you’d like to build your membership portal on your own land, using WordPress as your content management system then you’ll love taking a look at our WordPress LMS comparison pages.

There’s one thing you’ll quickly notice that happens in the WordPress ecosystem: there are a lot of different plugins and some of them might require other plugins to handle your needs.

There are cases where it makes sense to use multiple plugins, if they come with solid integrations with tools you’re already using, for example. Other times, it can be a better idea to go with one WordPress LMS plugin that handles everything you need so there’s no chance of a breakdown between add-ons.

Here we’ll see how some of most popular WordPress LMS systems stack up and you can click through for even more in-depth comparisons.

Protected course content
Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments Via Infusionsoft Via Ontraport
Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics
Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus
Deep 2-Way Integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip Infusionsoft & ActiveCampaign only Ontraport only Infusionsoft only
Multiple currencies, automated expiring coupons, and order bumps Partial
Cart abandonment automation Via Ontraport
Progress tracking, and progress-based unlocking content Partial
Multiple types of quizzes, and auto generated certificates of completion Add-on required
Course Licensing with Teams or Umbrella Accounts
Searchable member directories and editable custom fields through profiles
Gamification where members can earn points, and activity-based automation, login tracking
Media player, video bookmarks, tagging automation on quizzes
Cross-selling dashboards, with 1-click upsells Via Infusionsoft
Built-in affiliate tracking with multiple tiers, links, and reporting Infusionsoft only

Compare Specific LMS & Membership Plugins for WordPress

Already using WordPress? AccessAlly is designed to help you sell more, teach better, and engage longer with built-in payments, LMS, and membership management. This creates a powerful automated membership experience built on the extendable WordPress platform.

See how we compare with other WordPress plugin solutions:

LearnPress logo icon

Learning Management System Plugin

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WP Courseware Icon

Learning Management System Plugin

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Membership Plugin

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Memberium Logo

Membership Plugin

Memberium vs. AccessAlly

PilotPress Logo

Membership Plugin

PilotPress vs. AccessAlly

iMember360 Logo

Membership Plugin

iMember360 vs. WishList Member

Membermouse Icon

Membership Plugin

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WishList Member Icon

Membership Plugin

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WooCommerce Logo

Payment Plugin

WooCommerce vs. AccessAlly

I'm transferring an existing membership site to AccessAlly, and can't believe how much more robust and efficient my site is. There's so many opportunities to nurture and engage my membership through all the little things built into AccessAlly. So glad I made the move!

Carly Seifert

Carly Seifert

Compare SaaS LMS Vendors

AccessAlly is a WordPress plugin that handles course delivery and full Learning Management System functionality. So how does it compare with software-as-a-service "hosted" learning platforms?

Kartra icon

SaaS Platform

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Zippy Courses icon

SaaS Platform

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Wild Apricot icon

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ClickFunnels-icon

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