LearnDash vs. Kajabi: A Comparison

When it comes to membership and LMS software, the marketplace can be overwhelming. 

It's hard to find a membership site solution that is going to flex and work with you and your business and not limit your functionality.

LearnDash and Kajabi logos

We've tested so many course software solutions for our business over the years.

When we couldn't find a solution that would do what we needed,
we dusted off our Software Engineering chops and developed AccessAlly. 

And to this day, we continue to test and review the options
on the market so we can share that knowledge.

How do LearnDash and Kajabi differ?

LearnDash and Kajabi both offer the ability to build online courses.

This is where the similarities end, and where the differences begin.

Kajabi features gif

ALL-IN-ONE VS. DEDICATED WORDPRESS LMS

Kajabi and LearnDash have different software philosophies. LearnDash’s focus is purely on online course creation, whereas Kajabi has the admirable goal of handling your entire digital business.

Simply put, Kajabi tries to do too much: host your main website, take payments, deliver courses, handle marketing automation pipelines, send marketing emails, and design landing pages. If you’re just getting started online, this is a good solution to keep costs down.  As you grow, I recommend looking into alternatives that scale a little better. 

LearnDash is a WordPress plugin and focuses on the Learning Management System (LMS) functionality. This could be advantageous or disadvantageous for you depending on your setup. 

To expand on its core functionality so you can deliver a positive user experience from end to end, you’ll likely need to install additional plugins and add-ons. Fortunately, LearnDash has a robust marketplace of integrations and add-ons to make this possible.

That means you may 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 automations

With Kajabi, you sign up for one tool that seamlessly handles everything from payments, course creation, LMS functionality, deep integrations, and member management.

LIMITS ON MEMBERS, COURSES, AND PRODUCTS

Kajabi’s different pricing tiers limit the number of products, courses, and active members you can have, in turn limiting your business’ growth. 

If you want to offer a free course to someone when they opt-in to your email list as your lead magnet (what AccessAlly calls a Login Optin™), you’d be limited to 1000 sign ups on the $129/month plan, or 10,000 sign ups on the $389/month plan.

The signup limit is not effective for list building, or turning free members into paid participants.

With LearnDash there are no such limits. You can have as many members as you want, and as many courses or products as you want. There are 3 pricing tiers for LearnDash based on the number of site licenses you need, or desired reporting options. 

Keep in mind that you might need to add-on some additional paid plugins to make LearnDash do everything you need, but these tend to be one-time or yearly costs and not tied to your sales.

LearnDash pricing table
LearnDash pricing as of March, 2020.

Extensibility & Ownership Between Kajabi and WordPress

With Kajabi, you’re hosting your website and courses on their closed platform, with no easy way to take your content with you when you cancel or decide to move on.

Because the Kajabi system is closed, you can’t easily extend it by installing add-ons and plugins. That means you can’t add an integrated forum, gamification, or other features that could improve your courses. Kajabi has recently released community features to create forums so they are continuing to develop and introduce new features over time. 

LearnDash took a different approach: it’s a WordPress plugin so you’re not building your site on rented land. However, when it comes to creating courses, 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. Fortunately, some plugins, like AccessAlly, can help you retrieve your content and migrate it if you decide to move away from this plugin. 

Unlike Kajabi, LearnDash does provide integrations to extend on its core functionality. 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. Be conscious about your tech stack though, because the more plugins you add, the more risk you assume for things to go wrong. 

LearnDash is a great plugin if you only sell one course and don’t require a lot of additional functionality.

With AccessAlly, you have even more control. It’s an open source LMS WordPress plugin.

What does that mean for you? Anyone can see and read the code, and it’s easy to back-up and export your content, so if you ever decide to migrate away from us, you won’t lose all of your work.

ONBOARDING & CUSTOMER SUPPORT

It’s imperative for SaaS and tech companies to have a strong customer support system in place to ensure the success of their users with their product. 

Kajabi’s customer support is available 24/7 via email and live chat. If you sign up for an annual plan you also receive two 1:1 sessions with their team to work through your setup. They also have an extensive knowledge base and in-app training to help you with the setup, step-by-step. 

In comparison, LearnDash doesn’t have 24/7 support. Their hours are Monday-Friday from 7am-4pm EST.  

Don’t let this deter you though.  We have found that email support is very effective, especially when you have a more complex question to troubleshoot.  It allows the support team time to sort through the issue and confidently provide you with a resolution.

Screenshot of Kajabi's customer support channels
Screenshot of Kajabi's customer support channels
Mobile device with animation with ActiveCampaign, Drip, ConvertKit, Infusionsoft, and Ontraport

INTEGRATION WITH YOUR MARKETING AUTOMATION PLATFORM

With Kajabi, the extent of its integration with your CRM or marketing automation system is that it allows you to activate or deactivate members, however additional integrations can happen with a 3rd party tool such as Zapier.  

If you’re using Kajabi’s built-in marketing automation functionality, you have a lot more control over the communications you send and when from within the platform based on user’s actions. 

With LearnDash, you’ll need a 3rd party tool such as Zapier or WPFusion to connect your online courses built on your WordPress site to pass information back to your CRM.

Say goodbye to duct-taped solutions and take full control of your membership and online course setup with AccessAlly’s deep 2-way street integration. You get everything you need and no third-party plugins are necessary. It’s built to sell, teach, and engage.

LMS website Showcase Examples

Membership Site & Course Design Flexibility

Kajabi’s downfall for brand-conscious entrepreneurs is their limited theme customization, although it has come a long way since its early days and is evolving to keep up with the rise in popularity of WordPress page builders. One thing to keep in mind, is the fact that you cannot remove the Kajabi branding if you sign up for the lowest pricing tier. 

It’s a great tool for beginners who aren’t very specific about the look and feel of their sites, but not ideal for those who want full design flexibility. 

With Kajabi, you can pick from a handful of legacy themes and make edits, or use the Premier framework to adapt various layout presets. You’re limited to 8 fonts and fixed design options, unless you want to dig into the Liquid programming language to edit templates by hand.

On the other hand, LearnDash is a plugin for WordPress, so it integrates with any WordPress theme or builder plugin. Their built-in course layouts and focus mode are compatible with most page builders. 

The built-in course builder has a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to add your content and re-use lessons or topics from existing courses. However, when it comes to the look and feel of your course pages, it’s lacking in flexibility. Aside from specifying a few colors, you won’t have full customization over the course layout and design.

If you’re looking for a course builder that allows full design flexibility, take a look at our showcase page to see what’s possible when you choose AccessAlly instead.

LEARNING REINFORCEMENTS: QUIZZES, PROGRESS-TRACKING, HOMEWORK, & CERTIFICATES

This is where LearnDash really shines.  

LearnDash allows you to add a quiz or assessment at any level throughout a course, whether it’s at the end of a course, a specific lesson, or topic.  With 8 question types to choose from, timed assessments, and the ability to submit any type of media as an input field, your options are endless. 

You can also require homework submissions after lessons or topics, and issue report cards and track homework and assessments with gradebooks. 

LearnDash has even taken their progress-tracking to a new level in their most recent release, tracking course progress across all levels of the course, baked right into the layout. 

You can also use LearnDash’s built-in certificates to reward your members as soon as they complete a course.  This is a great way to motivate students to complete the material.  

While Kajabi does allow you to create assessments to reinforce the material and test student retention, your options for quiz and question types aren’t as robust. Their questions are limited to multiple choice and multiple selection options, only.  

Up until recently, progress tracking for courses was not possible for Kajabi users. However, at the time of this review, progress tracking is currently in beta for a small group of Kajabi users so you can expect to see this rolled out to all users in the near future.

LearnDash quiz design
Screenshot of LearnDash quiz design
Animated screenshots of the AccessAlly Teams dashboard

Bulk Course Enrollment & Umbrella Accounts

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 or family accounts.

Unfortunately, Kajabi does not offer bulk course enrollment functionality.

With LearnDash you'll need to purchase an additional plugin that is developed by another company. 

AccessAlly gives you the power to sell a package of licenses to your courses and content. This becomes a powerful selling tool for corporate training, schools, families, and other groups.

Design a member management dashboard so team leaders can add team members, see their progress, purchase more licenses, use custom operations to kick off automations, and more.

Multiple devices showing websites of payment processors

E-Commerce & Affiliate Functionality

Kajabi has built-in Stripe and PayPal integration with coupons using a multi-step order form. However, you cannot take recurring subscription payments or run payment plans with PayPal on Kajabi.

Kajabi also offers affiliate tracking functionality in their mid and high-level plans. However, it does not allow you to add swipe copy and advertising banners for your affiliates to access in your members' area. If you’re looking for a streamlined affiliate center and PayPal recurring payments, I recommend looking at AccessAlly as an alternative to Kajabi. 

LearnDash has limited built-in e-commerce functionality, however, if you have a simple setup and only offer one-time payments for courses, no additional plugins are needed and it natively integrates with PayPal, Stripe and 2checkout.  

However, if you’re selling subscriptions or offering payment plans, an add-on or additional plugin is needed to achieve this functionality.  The same holds true for affiliate features.  

This is where the costs and complexity start to add up for LearnDash.

Your workflow on LearnDash vs. Kajabi:

white LearnDash logo
  1. Install the plugin on your WordPress membership site
  2. Install a payment plugin or purchase an additional shopping cart tool (and possibly an additional affiliate plugin)
  3. Install a membership plugin, and configure it
  4. Install or set-up CRM integration plugin, team licensing add-ons, member directory add-ons, etc.
  5. Dig into your site's CSS and hack the LearnDash design to match your branding
  6. Use the LearnDash course builder to design your course structure
  7. Set up your quizzes, link them to lessons
Kajabi logo
  1. Install the plugin on your WordPress membership site
  2. Install the LaunchPad theme or choose one of your own.
  3. Integrate your payment gateway
  4. Use the LifterLMS course builder to setup your course structure
  5. Install or set-up CRM integration third-party tool, team licensing add-ons, member directory add-ons, etc.
  6. Set up your marketing automation campaign or notifications within the plugin
  7. Add your content, quizzes, and more with the shortcode adder

See how LearnDash and Kajabi Features Compare:

We’re a digital marketing software company built by marketers and software engineers. With our particular background and expertise, we’ve designed our membership and LMS plugin AccessAlly, to give you everything you need in an easy to use, powerful package. Here you’ll see where LearnDash and Kajabi fall short or shine in comparison:

Protected course content
Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments No recurring with PayPal
Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics
Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus No tags 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
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 Limited features

The True Cost of Kajabi vs. LearnDash

These pricing models will give you an idea of what you can expect, when comparing the cost of Kajabi vs. LearnDash but it's not the whole picture.

If you plan to use Kajabi to handle your email marketing automation and website, then it may be more advantageous to go with this option.

However, if you've already got an email marketing automation platform and a website, it doesn't make sense to pay more for Kajabi - especially because your monthly costs will increase steeply as you add more free or paid members, and courses.

On the other hand, with LearnDash, which only handles your Learning Management System (LMS), you'll also need to add a payment processor, order forms, membership plugin, website hosting, video hosting, and other add-ons - like groups for forums. 

Keep this in mind as you’re  comparing pricing so you’re being mindful of your true investment.

Kajabi vs. LearnDash pricing

THE REAL QUESTION: SHOULD I USE LEARNDASH OR KAJABI?

Blue and black Kajabi logo

Kajabi might be right for you if…

  • You need a bare-bones course website, with no plans for added functionality down the line
  • You want to have your site up and running quickly, so you can test your ideas without worrying about design
  • You don’t use a CRM like Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, or Drip to do your email marketing automation
  • You don’t mind giving up full control to have a website, email marketing, and course platform that handles everything in one place
LearnDash logo

LearnDash might be right for you if…

  • You are open to a larger tech stack, 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

Schedule a live demo to see how AccessAlly

Hi, I'm Kimberly

I'd love to learn more about your goals and answer your questions about how AccessAlly can help you get there. Book a demo today!

Kimberly Gosney