LearnDash vs. learnpress: An In-Depth LMS Feature Comparison

In this LearnDash vs. LearnPress review we’ll break down some of the most popular features, pricing, and important considerations you should take into account when evaluating possible LMS plugins for your business.

The LMS you choose should be built to flex and grow with you and your business, not limit your potential.

 

learndash and learnpress logos

Here at AccessAlly we've invested a lot of time researching online course plugins and platforms over the years. 

Initially for our own courses and programs, and now so we can share that knowledge with you. 

While we firmly believe in the power of our own LMS software - the AccessAlly plugin entrepreneurs around the globe have come to know and love, we know that learning management systems and membership tools don't come in a one-size-fits-all package.

This is why our team continues to review and test new and upcoming membership site and LMS software, as well as tools that have been around for years. We want to help educate you about your options and empower you to decide what the best tool is for your business. 

Here's what we know about LearnDash and LearnPress outlined below in this side-by-side comparison. 

From development philosphies, CRM integrations, and pricing to design flexibility and support - we're covering all of this and more.

How do LearnDash and LearnPress differ?

LearnDash and LearnPress are both WordPress plugins developed to provide you with the ability to build your online courses.

Their core functionality and development philosophies are eerily similar, however each one has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to features, and at times, one tends to outshine the other. 

Let’s take a closer look at how they compare side by side for their most popular features.

2 tablets displaying add-ons for LearnDash and LearnPress

WORDPRESS PLUGIN DEVELOPMENT PHILOSOPHY

LearnPress and LearnDash have similar software philosophies. Their focus is purely on online course creation and they both focus on the Learning Management System (LMS) functionality.

While this could be advantageous for some business owners, it can also be disadvantageous to others.  It comes down to your requirements and desired functionality. 

To expand on either the LearnDash or LearnPress plugin’s core functionality, to help you deliver a positive user experience from end to end, you’ll likely need to install additional plugins and add-ons.  

Fortunately, LearnDash and LearnPress both have a robust marketplace of integrations and add-ons to expand on their standard features. But, that could come at a cost.

You may be forced to purchase and integrate with additional plugins to handle things like:

  • recurring payments and payment administration
  • membership levels to run cohesive membership sites
  • third-party integrations for your CRM or marketing automation system
  • assignments, online learning quizzes, and gradebooks

One important thing to note here is that LearnPress isn’t the main focus of its company's owners. LearnPress is created by ThimPress and their focus is primarily on theme development and sales. LearnDash is focused solely on their LMS. 

INTEGRATION WITH YOUR MARKETING AUTOMATION PLATFORM

Both LearnDash and LearnPress require the use of a third-party tool such as Zapier or WPFusion to connect your online courses built on your WordPress site to pass information back to your CRM. 

This is what we call a one-way integration.  Your plugin will use the third-party connection to ping your e-mail marketing system or CRM with the information from your plugin, such as an enrollment in a specific course or the completion of a course.  

Here's how it works: your third-party tool will apply a tag and pass this information into or sync with your CRM or marketing automation system to trigger an automation. These tools cannot pass information from the CRM or marketing automation system back to your WordPress plugin, though. 

So, just keep in mind that anything done inside your CRM will not be reflected within your course or membership as there is no way for them to communicate and trigger actions within your course or membership.

Mobile device with animation with ActiveCampaign, Drip, ConvertKit, Infusionsoft, and Ontraport

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.

LearnPress theme examples

course DESIGN FLEXIBILITY

LearnPress works with any theme on their free version and Pro bundle, but requires you to use a LearnPress theme on their mid-level tier: the LearnPress Theme Bundle.

This doesn’t come at a big surprise, considering theme development seems to be at the heart of their business and they have a library of options for you to choose from.

Just keep in mind that LearnPress only provides free support for the theme in their mid-level tier, or any other themes they offer for 6 months after your purchase date. You can purchase extended support after that time expires for ongoing support. 

In comparison, LearnDash integrates with any WordPress theme or page builder plugin. The choice is yours and you have the freedom to opt for a free or premium theme to control the overall look and design of your online course site.

This is great news for brand conscious entrepreneurs, but unfortunately you don’t have complete design freedom when it comes to how you present and organize your course content. 

LearnDash's 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.

ONBOARDING & CUSTOMER SUPPORT

In today's ever-changing world of technology, 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. 

LearnPress drops down in popularity a bit when it comes to customer support, and they tend to get a bad rap in this department due to their response time and lack of thorough documentation. 

Upon purchase you will receive complimentary support for 6 months from your purchase date, similar to their theme support as mentioned previously.  Their documentation is a little thin, so be prepared to learn more through trial and error (or success!) as you navigate your online course setup. 

Fortunately, the interface is very straightforward so you shouldn’t hit to many roadblocks with the basic course setup. Things do start to get a little more complex as you start adding additional features powered by add-ons and third-party tools, though. 

On the contrary, LearnDash’s support department is more dependable. They provide detailed documentation to help guide you in your setup process, and their email support hours are Monday-Friday from 7am-4pm EST.  

Speaking from personal experience, reliable email support tends to be 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.

laptop displaying LearnDash support options

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
Memberium Alternative

Extensibility and ownership

Unlike platform-as-a-service options, you establish more ownership over your course setup when you choose a WordPress plugin, such as LearnDash or LearnPress. 

You’re not building your site on rented land, but there is one caveat here. When it comes to creating courses in LearnDash, you will discover LearnDash uses a proprietary Custom Post Type that allows you to designate modules and lessons to assign to each course.

On the downside, 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. 

Both LearnPress and LearnDash provide you with an extensive library of integrations to extend on their core functionality so you’re not completely restricted when you want to build out or add new features to your course setup. 

It's not unheard of for LearnDash and LearnPress users to have 6 or more different plugins or add-ons installed 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. 

Both of these options are good choices if you only sell one or two courses and don’t require a lot of additional functionality so can stick to the core functionality to keep things simple.

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.

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 LearnPress does allow you to create quizzes to reinforce your course material or test student retention, your options for quiz and question types aren’t as robust. You will also need to install additional add-ons to take advantage of their quiz functionality. These add-ons can add additional costs depending on the tier you invest in with LearnPress.

You will also need to install and/or purchase additional add-ons for certificates, assignments, and gradebooks if you decide to use LearnPress for your online course development.

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 through bulk course enrollment, neither LearnDash or LearnPress is a great option. 

While LearnPress does not offer this functionality, they do provide an instructor add-on that will allow you to designate instructors who gain access to the LearnPress course creator to create additional courses, similar to Udemy.  LearnDash has also recently released a similar feature. 

LearnDash also has an additional paid add-on developed by another company to make it possible to sell team accounts or offer buik course enrollment.

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.

E-Commerce & Affiliate Functionality

LearnPress has built-in PayPal integration for one-time purchases, no additional tools or integrations are required to sell individual courses. However, you cannot take recurring payments or run payment plans with PayPal on LearnPress.

There are additional shopping cart and payment integration add-ons available for Stripe, WooCommerce, and other popular payment gateways.

If you’d like to incorporate affiliate marketing into your LearnPress setup, there is a commission add-on available, but it’s not a robust affiliate management program

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 recurring 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 and LearnPress.

tablet displaying PayPal website

Your workflow on LearnDash vs. LearnPress

white LearnDash logo
  1. Install the plugin on your WordPress membership site
  2. Install your theme
  3. Install a payment plugin or purchase an additional shopping cart tool (and possibly an additional affiliate plugin)
  4. Install a membership plugin, and configure it
  5. Install or set-up CRM integration plugin, team licensing add-ons, member directory add-ons, etc.
  6. Dig into your site's CSS and hack the LearnDash design to match your branding
  7. Use the LearnDash course builder to design your course structure
  8. Set up your quizzes, link them to lessons
white learnpress logo
  1. Install the plugin on your WordPress membership site
  2. Install your LearnPress theme or choose one of your own.
  3. Install a payment plugin or purchase an additional shopping cart tool (and possibly an additional affiliate plugin)
  4. Install a membership plugin, and configure it
  5. Install or set-up CRM integration third-party tool, team licensing add-ons, member directory add-ons, etc.
  6. Use the LearnPress course builder to setup your course structure
  7. Set up your quizzes, link them to lessons

See how the LearnDash and LearnPress 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 management and LMS plugin AccessAlly, to give you everything you need in an easy to use, powerful package. Here you’ll see where LearnDash and LearnPress fall short or shine in comparison:

Software Feature
Protected course content
Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments
Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics
Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus
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

The True Cost of LearnDash vs. LearnPress

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

LearnPress does offer a free tier, but this graphic only compares LearnDash and LearnPress' top tier with the required add-ons for the features we've discussed in this comparison. 

If you choose either plugin's most affordable option be sure to budget for additional plugins and add-ons, as well as additional software tools you may need to create a seamless learning experience for your students and customers.

You should consider expanding your budget to account for a payment processor, order forms plugin, membership plugin, website hosting, video hosting, and other add-ons - like groups for forums. 

Keep the cost of these add-ons and tools  in mind as you’re  comparing pricing so you’re being mindful of your true investment.

LearnPress vs. LearnDash pricing tables

If you're feeling overwhelmed when you take into consideration the additional tools and plugins you may need, keep in mind AccessAlly Pro doesn’t require any additional add-ons or plugins for your online course or membership site.

THE REAL QUESTION: SHOULD I USE LEARNDASH OR LearnPress

LearnPress Logo

LearnPress might be right for you if…

  • You need a bare-bones course website, with no plans for added functionality down the line or are open to a larger tech stack, and using a lot of different plugins to achieve your goals
  • You’re comfortable with tech and don’t tend to need additional support for setup and configurations
  • You’d like to use a theme provided by ThimPress, the creators of LearnPress
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