AccessAlly vs LearnDash: A Comparison
Our fans tell us AccessAlly allows them to earn more from their online courses and membership sites. We think you’ll love AccessAlly’s power features, along with its’ sophisticated interface.
If you’re curious to see how AccessAlly really stacks up to LearnDash, read on!
How is AccessAlly different
AccessAlly and LearnDash could both allow you to build courses through a Learning Management System, and fall under the WordPress LMS plugin category.
This is where the similarities end, and where the differences begin.
Flexible Course Creation and Deep CRM Integration for Automation
LearnDash uses a proprietary Custom Post Type that allows you to designate modules and lessons. If you cancel your LearnDash license, your content isn't usable anymore.
When you use AccessAlly's Offerings Wizard, you get the best of both worlds: easy-to-use templates and ultimate customization options.
When you create your course, membership, or even team or affiliate centers, the wizard walks you through it step-by-step.
Your pages, tags, and menus will be created automatically. Then you can edit and customize until your hearts' content.
You'll have access to a powerful learning management system (LMS) features that take your courses to the next level. Use quizzes, tests, progress tracking, video bookmarking, and more.
All of this, combined with the integration to your CRM (like ActiveCampaign or Infusionsoft, among others), allows you to create a one-of-a-kind experience for each and every user. You'll blow them away!
LearnDash has no CRM integration.
How many plugins does it take to run a course using LearnDash vs AccessAlly?
With LearnDash, focuses on the Learning Management System (LMS) functionality at the detriment of the big picture of what's needed for running online courses on WordPress.
That means you'll need to purchase and integrate additional plugins to handle:
- payments and payment administration
- membership levels to run cohesive membership sites
- integration with your CRM for marketing automation
It's not unheard of for LearnDash users to have 6 or more different plugins to make sure everything works together to create a functional learning experience.
With AccessAlly, you sign up for one tool that seamlessly handles everything from payments, course creation, LMS functionality, deep integrations, and member management.
Take Payments Directly, with Abandoned Cart Follow-up, Coupons, and 1-Click Upsells
LearnDash doesn't come with its' own built-in payment processor, you'll need to set up an additional plugin. Many people end up spending an additional $99/month on a shopping cart solution to sell their courses.
AccessAlly has beautiful order forms that allow you to offer one-time payments, subscriptions, individually triggered time-sensitive coupons, trial offers, and 1-click upsells. Plus, you can have members manage their credit card on file and subscriptions right inside AccessAlly.
And unlike other platforms, AccessAlly doesn't take a commission on any of your sales, and it integrates with Stripe and PayPal out the box.
The best part? Because AccessAlly has built-in payments and integrates directly with your CRM, you can segment your email marketing so your customers and prospects get the right communication.
Built-in Bulk Course Licensing, Teaching Assistants, and Homework Submission
If you want to offer "bulk licenses" or the ability to have umbrella parent/child accounts, where a group leader can assign sub-accounts, say for a corporate training team...
You can do it with both LearnDash and AccessAlly.
However, with LearnDash you'll need to purchase an additional plugin that is developed by another company. With AccessAlly, you can offer Team management without any additional add-ons, it comes standard.
And AccessAlly allows you to design and customize the "member management" dashboard to your liking. You can have multiple team managers, and even show student progress to the different adminsitrators.
A team leader can see student progress and even quiz results.
AccessAlly also makes it easy for students to upload homework attachments, like PDFs, Word documents, or other files for the administrator.
One Client's Story About Finding a LearnDash Alternative...
"I manage a site that uses LearnDash and was not impressed or inspired by it.
When I had to re-build one of my own sites with an LMS solution I went with AccessAlly and have been blown away by their system. So much better than every other LMS solution I've worked with or tested out.
I'm on Ontarport, but can't speak to the specific setup your looking to implement... But can speak to AccessAlly's support and quick response to get answers to my questions.
I've been setting up some pretty advanced stuff and they've been able to do what I want to do every time."
- Mike Deiure, RockGuitarPower.com
Built-in Membership, Cross-Selling Dashboards, and Gamification
With LearnDash, you can log people in for individual courses... but if you wanted to offer a recurring membership, or the ability to display all of your courses in an easy to unlock dashboard, you'll need another plugin.
With AccessAlly you can easily create a member dashboard that shows members what they have access to and how they can purchase more, with 1-click.
With AccessAlly members can also earn points for completing quizzes or courses, or being paid members in good standing. They can then use points that they earned to unlock content, or other bonuses.
LearnDash also allows students to earn points, but you can't tie these into your CRM or use them to unlock courses and bonuses.
Styled Member Directories, and Fully Integrated Member Profiles in Your CRM
LearnDash is a strictly learning platform, whereas AccessAlly started off as way to manage access to online courses... and quickly developed into a full fledged membership plugin for WordPress.
That means you can create beautiful searchable member directories, sorted by your marketing automation platform tags. This allows members to opt in or out of your member directory, and even to purchase a premium listing.
You decide what to include in your public or private member directory - like a biography, gamification points earned, and even course progress.
Plus, with AccessAlly’s profile editing functionality, a member can update their name, email, address, and password… or any other custom field inside of your marketing automation platform.
LearnDash does not offer a member directory feature.
LearnDash Alternative That's Beautiful Out of the Box
One thing we consistently hear from AccessAlly clients is that it looks good.
AccessAlly comes with a beautiful mobile-friendly interface that you can customize, which is great for:
- Displaying progress tracking, pie charts, and checklists
- On-brand cross-selling dashboards
- Affiliate centers, complete with tracking and downloads
We’ve even heard of folks hiring designers and developers to knock off AccessAlly’s look and feel in LearnDash, because AccessAlly provides such a great user experience.
AccessAlly is not a theme, it's a plugin - and it integrates with any WordPress theme seamlessly.
Clients Share Their Experience with AccessAlly vs. LearnDash
"I was on SquareSpace and wanted to have a membership site. So I looked around, found Memberium and Learndash. Tried to get those going and found it too hard. Then somehow I stumbled upon AccessAlly.
I signed up last week and as of last night, I’m live in WordPress with my AccessAlly site. Thank you for making it easier for people like us trying to startup a business.
It is just the beginning stages but it is looking like I have a good platform I can grow on. Thanks to you :)"
"As a web designer, I've created more online course websites for clients than I can count. I mean, there isn't a course or membership plugin or platform out there that I haven't used.
When I discovered AccessAlly a couple years ago, I couldn't believe how easy it was to set up considering how powerful it is. You do not need to be techie or hire a web developer to set it up and use it!
My community loves AccessAlly because it helps them track their progress and keeps them engaged - and I love it because it sells my other courses and the subscription to my membership site for me - no other platform out there helps you market your courses the way AccessAlly does. When I moved from a cheaper, cumbersome online course plugin to AccessAlly, my registrations and sales took off!
AccessAlly is hands-down the best platform if you want to easily create highly engaging courses that are designed to sell more courses - I can't recommend it enough!"
- Shannon Mattern, WP-BFF.com
How do LearnDash and AccessAlly handle course objectives?
LearnDash Objective Lists
In order to understand how the objective list inside LearnDash works, it's important to understand their 3-tiered course format:
Courses – The Main Page/dashboard of a course.
Lessons – Each course is subdivided into a series of lessons. For progress tracking purposes, each lesson is its own objective.
Topics – Each lesson can also be divided into many different topics.
Once you've created your course through the proper categories of course, lesson, and topic, you can add the objective list to a page with a shortcode.
This will create a standard, styled table that will include an element for each of the lessons in your course.
In order to complete objectives within a LearnDash course, the user must go to each of the course pages (with an optional “minimum time” spent on that page), then click the “complete” button in order to be taken to the next lesson.
Essentially it works the same as the AccessAlly Pro checklist, although there is less flexibility in what you can include for components.
AccessAlly Objective Lists
The AccessAlly object checklist can include any element that's a part of your course: video, text, quiz, or homework submission.
The LMS settings of AccessAlly can be found at the bottom of any WordPress post or page, making it easy to add LMS features to any bit of content you're creating.
Within the Objective setup, you decide what is included on your checklist.
Once you've added the completed objective list to the page (via a shortcode), the user is then in control of checking off the text objectives as he or she makes their way through the course.
Any video or quiz objectives will auto-complete after the activity is completed.
The result looks like this:
The strength of the AccessAlly objective list is that you can include a custom checklist on any page, carefully tailoring the learning experience to fit the students' needs.
Plus, AccessAlly allows you to create video checklists (with YouTube, Wistia, and Vimeo) that autoplay videos based on the user's selection.
Progress Tracking in LearnDash vs AccessAlly
LearnDash Progress Tracking
The LearnDash Course Progress Bar is available in a widget format, which must be added to the sidebar of your page. The tracking is also based on the lessons as explained in the above section.
The appearance of this widget is dependent on the theme of your website, and cannot be customized without additional CSS in the backend of your website.
AccessAlly Progress Tracking
There are two types of progress tracking available with AccessAlly: front-end tracking for the users, and back-end tracking for the course admin.
Front-End User Tracking: Percentage
The front-end progress tracking settings for AccessAlly are set up a little differently than LearnDash. Instead of relying on widget areas, you can add this feature to any text area of your site with a simple shortcode.
It works in conjunction with your checklists so that users can see where they're at in terms of course completion.
The nice thing about progress tracking with this plugin is that you actually have three design settings: a pie chart, a progress bar, or a simple percentage text: 100%
Front-End User Tracking: Objective Count
The percentage progress bar is based on the number of total objectives in relation to how many have been marked “complete.”
Sometimes, though, it's nice to just have a number to look at… so AccessAlly includes shortcodes that will show an unstyled number of total objectives and/or completed objectives on any given page:
The overall appearance of AccessAlly features can be customized in AccessAlly's plugin settings, making it easy to change colors, fonts, and sizes.
Back-End User Tracking With AccessAlly Pro
In the backend of the website, AccessAlly Pro shows unique progress tracking stats so that the course admin can see at a glance how users are interacting with their course content.
The back-end user tracking has three parts:
- The General Report
- On-Page Report
- User-Specific Stats
The General Report
This report reveals how many users have completed all objectives on each of your website pages or posts, versus how many have completed SOME objectives on the pages/posts.
To dig a little deeper into the general report, simply click on the page title to be taken to that particular page in the website.
Here, in the AccessAlly settings, you can see a breakdown of each objective – and how many users have completed each one.
This can be super helpful to see where the dropoff begins to happen in your courses, so that you can add various resources to encourage your students to keep going.
Per User Stats
Lastly, if you click into any of the users' WordPress profiles, you can scroll down to find their unique AccessAlly reports. These reports will tell you which courses have been completed – and which have only been dabbled in.
This report can be downloaded as a CSV file, so you can analyze it a little deeper if you'd like.
Different Types of Quizzes in AccessAlly vs. LearnDash
LearnDash Quiz Features
The LearnDash quiz setup is extremely elaborate, which can be really nice for users who have very specific needs for their quizzes.
The downside of the LearnDash quiz setup area is that each component of your quiz must be created separately. This can get tedious and repetitive, especially if you're working with a large number of quiz questions.
Fortunately, even though the options and process of quiz setup does get to be overwhelming, LearnDash allows users to create templates throughout the process. This makes it much easier to duplicate a quiz type once it's initially set up.
The completed quiz can be added to any lesson within a LearnDash Course.
Although it can get complicated (as noted above), the vast array of functions inside a LearnDash quiz setup area is probably the biggest strength of this plugin.
AccessAlly Quiz Types
Although it offers the same fundamental quiz types (personality quizzes with multiple outcomes, scored quizzes, and pass/fail quizzes), AccessAlly requires a much less intensive setup.
The dropdown menu inside the AccessAlly page settings reveals the three quiz types. When one is selected, additional options appear so that you can easily configure that type of quiz.
Once the quiz has been created inside the plugin settings, you can add it to the page with a simple shortcode.
AccessAlly can also automatically apply a tag to a user who has completed your quizzes. This feature gives allows you to release new course content after the student has received a passing grade on a test, or to tag people based on their personality "type".
With AccessAlly, you can choose to reveal a specified number of questions at a time. This is also a great way to increase the focus on a question (or set of questions), effectively preventing the student from scanning ahead or getting distracted.
Autogenerating Course Certificates
LearnDash Certificates of Completion
LearnDash provides a downloadable set of certificates for you to use in your website. Each certificate download comes with a particular code that must be added to the certificate page along with any shortcodes you'd like to use to customize the information on the certificate.
When done correctly, the content you type in the page setup will appear in the right area on the certificate.
Once these steps are completed, you can publish the certificate and add it to one of your course pages.
AccessAlly Certificates of Completion
AccessAlly's certificate builder is totally different and more user-friendly than the one inside LearnDash.
Simply upload a certificate template (four versions are provided for free when you purchase the plugin, or create your own!), and use the settings to determine the size and appearance of the fields you'd like to appear on the certificate.
It's totally drag-and-drop!
The certificate appearance will automatically update to help you envision what it will look.
The certificate you created can be added to the page with the AccessAlly shortcode adder.
You can reveal this certificate to your users in a number of ways. You can use the regular styled button, or you can opt to grab a plain text link if you want to customize the appearance of the certificate reveal (like linking an icon or an image of the certificate for your users to click on).
Homework and Private Notes
With LearnDash, you can add an "upload assignment" setting to any of your lessons. You can also specify if this assignment will be automatically approved, or if you need to manually approve it.
You can see an example of the upload file interface on the front here:
The student can upload the assignment, but won't be able to include any additional text along with it... like questions, comments, or requests for specific feedback.
AccessAlly's Private Notes and Homework Submission
Another important way for students to learn is through taking notes. With AccessAlly, you can create a few different variations of “Private Notes”.
You can add a note-taking area on any page or course module, that's totally private and individual for each student.
You can also do a “2-way communication” note, where you as the course administrator can reply to a student's note. Think of this as a way to do private coaching or submit homework and get feedback on it.
Students can upload files directly through to WordPress, and the site administration will get an email notification when there's a new item to review.
Oh, and there's even a cool note type that requires admin approval before the corresponding “checklist” item can be completed.
The best part is that no other student will see the notes, since they're linked to each individual student's login!
Should I use AccessAlly or LearnDash?
LearnDash might be right for you if…
- You enjoy duct-taping solutions together, and using a lot of different plugins to achieve your goals
- You absolutely need SCORM or Tin-Can LMS integration
- You're not picky about the look-and-feel of your course
- You don't need deep CRM integration to create more personalized customer experiences, but you do need a lot of quizzing options
AccessAlly might be right for you if…
- You want everything to work seamlessly from one end to the other (payments, courses, and memberships) with as few plugins as possible
- You’re looking to create an amazing customer experience, that’s functional, profitable, and helps you stand out in the marketplace
- You understand the power of your marketing automation platform, and having it integrated with your LMS
Your workflow on AccessAlly vs. your workflow in LearnDash:
- Set up your WordPress site with your favorite customizable theme
- Install the AccessAlly plugin on your WordPress membership site
- Run through the AccessAlly onboarding wizard to integrate with your CRM and select payment settings
- Create your first offering with the Offerings Wizard and add your content
- Create emails in your CRM or in AccessAlly
- Install the plugin on your WordPress membership site
- Install a payment plugin or purchase an additional shopping cart tool (and possibly an additional affiliate plugin)
- Install a membership plugin, and configure it
- Install or set-up CRM integration plugin, team licensing add-ons, member directory add-ons, etc.
- Dig into your site's CSS and hack the LearnDash design to match your branding
- Use the LearnDash course builder to design your course structure
- Set up your quizzes, link them to lessons
See how AccessAlly and LearnDash Features Compare:
We’re a digital marketing software company built by marketers and software engineers. With our particular background and expertise, we’ve designed AccessAlly to give you everything you need in an easy to use, powerful package.
|Protected course content|
|Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments||With add-ons|
|Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics|
|Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus||No tags|
|Deep 2-Way Integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip|
|Multiple currencies, automated expiring coupons, and order bumps|
|Cart abandonment automation|
|Progress tracking, and progress-based unlocking content|
|Multiple types of quizzes, and auto generated certificates of completion|
|Course Licensing with Teams or Umbrella Accounts||With add-ons|
|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|
|Built-in affiliate tracking with multiple tiers, links, and reporting|
The True Cost of LearnDash
When choosing a course or membership platform, looking at LearnDash vs. AccessAlly pricing boxes can be deceiving.
With LearnDash, which only handles your Learning Management System (LMS), you'll also need to add a payment processor, order forms, membership plugin, and other add-ons like groups.
AccessAlly Pro comes in at a fraction of the price, with no add-ons required.
Marketers All Over the World are Loving AccessAlly
"I LOVE AccessAlly. It has become the cornerstone of my online business, I was on CustomerHub before AccessAlly Pro.
Since being on AccessAlly, my membership site has tripled in the number of members. The ability to do one-click upsells alone generates 1/4 of my revenue.
The mobile-friendly component is huge, as CustomerHub was not mobile-friendly. Plus, the quizzing functionality from AccessAlly Pro allows me to sell my membership program to corporations which also added an other 20% in revenue in the past year."
"I've tried a TON of different membership softwares and AccessAlly is by far and away the best-looking, most functional and most strategic one.
I was so fed up with my last membership site because the user-interface was terrible for my clients (and it didn't look good, which bothered my over-achieving perfectionist self).
Now, I've gotten an unbelievable amount of customer feedback from my clients telling me how much they absolutely love it... and I do too!"
“When I was planning a complete rebrand of my program the e-Course Launch Formula I looked at pretty much everything on the market as I had some very specific needs.
The reason I chose AccessAlly was because it integrates seamlessly with Infusionsoft, has some awesome learning management functionality like checklists and also has the potential to become a membership hub for my business with multiple programs in the one place.
I've used other Infusionsoft specific platforms but this really is the best on the market. My team has also successfully added a great membership directory for my students to find and connect with potential affiliates and contributors for their e-Course. I am so glad that I picked AccessAlly and my students are over the moon at what it offers for their learning experience!“
AccessAlly is a LearnDash alternative, that’s powerful enough for developers, but designed for marketers.
Migrating From another WordPress LMS plugin like LearnDash to AccessAlly is Easy
With the AccessAlly migration wizard, you can take an existing WordPress membership site and convert existing members easily.
Similarly, you can also import members directly from your marketing automation platform, and AccessAlly’s migration wizard will ensure all of your members have the right tags and permissions.
Then you can run through the Offerings Wizard to import existing course content, and you’ll be ready to showcase your new members area.
What matters most in online learning for 2022?
Make the most of online learning in 2022.
In 2020 so much changed, and many people turned off-line products and services into successful online course business ventures.
In 2022, the online courses that made it past the proof-of-concept stage are ready to be upgraded to the best online course platforms. Course creators are looking for flexible course builder options, that give them powerful tools like:
- Online course gamification (points, badges, and leaderboards)
- Marketing tools like cross-selling dashboards and abandoned cart follow-ups
- Unlimited courses and students
- Affiliate marketing and integration with email marketing platforms
The best online learning platforms will put user experience first, and help make course creation faster and easier for entrepreneurs.
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