How To Create an LMS From Scratch? Ultimate Guide 2022

8981 Updated 10.31.2022
Yuriy Matviyuk

Development Tech Lead

5/5

Table of contents

What is a learning management system? Full explanation 2022.

How To Create an LMS from Scratch: Today, it is hard to imagine training without an LMS (Learning Management System). It doesn’t matter whether you study in a state university or a corporate university – an LMS is critical to effectively training your team.

In this article, you will learn what an LMS is, how to create an LMS from scratch, what LMS features modern companies use, and several other critical LMS points.

Nowadays, almost every industry-specific business embraces advanced technologies. Due to the global pandemic COVID-19, leveraging technology-powered solutions is increasing, and the education industry is not an exception. That’s why online learning has skyrocketed – according to the MarketsandMarkets report, the global eLearning market value is anticipated to reach almost $22.4 billion.

Below is an infographic that shows LMS Market Growth Rate by Region (2019–2024). The United States takes first place, and Europe and Asia take second place.

Modern LMS platforms are distinguished by a convenient and flexible interface, comprehensive functionality, and distance learning on a new level. LMS training systems allow you to organize the learning process from scratch and monitor learners’ success through the creation of online courses or virtual classes, available anytime and anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection. All training materials are stored in one place, making it easy to adapt and revise depending on the needs of the company or organization.

If you are looking for solutions to build your learning management system website (LMS), we have prepared a brief guide with its features and advantages. Let’s go into details to understand what an LMS system is and what functions it covers.

History and trends of LMS projects

The idea of distance learning was first embodied in the 18th century, when one American scientist organized correspondence courses on stenography, publishing material in the newspaper.

After another one hundred years, this system improved when the possibility of feedback appeared. The teacher would send the lesson and homework by mail, and after the student studied it, they would send the completed homework back.

The next step in the development of learning management systems was the audio and video possibilities with courses on video and audio cassettes. But the most powerful and decisive breakthrough made progress in the field of information technology – the computer.

After the invention of the computer, local networks from several combined machines began to appear.

This became the latest and most decisive step in the development of the distance learning system: the Internet.

This global network facilitated people’s access to information. In response to this, LMS platforms were invented.

They allowed people to train remotely and independently of each other, as well as train a lot of students at the same time.

A learning management system is software designed to optimize learning processes and the way the education is delivered. Initially, LMS’s purpose was to enhance eLearning.

Now, enterprises use LMS programs to ensure effective and efficient team-building by improving employee training, tracking, and reporting features to make eLearning systems more solid, offering effective assessments.

There are two main types of LMS vendor:

  • Hosted LMS

Such a system is deployed into the owner’s host, and he can access learning to those who are associated with this host. This is the first type of LMS, which has emerged in universities and is still used. Owners of large corporations choose this type to control the system and keep information secure.

  • SaaS/Cloud LMS

The content is deployed into the LMS program’s host. The owner and users receive access via the Internet. This is the most common type of platform for distance learning.

Because of its simplicity and ease of use, it is chosen both by owners of private online schools and company executives to improve corporate learning.

Who needs an LMS platform?

Before asking how to build an LMS, think about the people who will use it. Training management systems are needed to centralize training activities and control them. Modern LMS is a system that supports many corporate use options, including:

  1. Customer training. This kind of training is for companies that need to attract users effectively. Customer learning management provides better product value and prevents user outflows.
  2. Partner training is an excellent way to improve affiliate programs and ensure greater value for counterparties by managing partner training.
  3. Supplier training is an exceptional opportunity to establish productive relationships and achieve mutual understanding using an LMS as a service for supplier learning.
  4. Employee training is used to increase the value of learning by creating centralized training content and facilitating interaction between employees using digital learning. Onboard learning management systems are extremely popular nowadays.
  5. The development and retention of employees. The use of an LMS to manage personnel development is to support talent, as well as train and develop personnel and their skills. Within the framework of an LMS, courses can be assigned to ensure that the staff acquires the necessary skills of work, has been informed about changes in products, etc.
  6. Employee testing and certification. An LMS is often used to receive compulsory training and check knowledge, tolerances, regulatory documents and certifications.
  7. Sales training. LMS plays a central role in the sales training system and provides sellers the necessary knowledge when they need it.
  8. Remote work. In current conditions, the distance learning system of remote employees becomes a vital necessity.
  9. HR solutions. This is a unique ability to digitize databases and documents, create programs for personnel and automate up to 70% of the personnel department’s routine work.

How to come up with your LMS idea?

What do you wanna change?

Before you create LMS from scratch, you must thoroughly think over the LMS idea.

99% of new projects die. Why do these projects die? Because the product is not needed on the market and no one wants to use it.

The work on the project should begin not from wording a particular product description but from generating a common idea, the overall task you want to solve.

The idea is about why you want to create something, what you want to change by offering your product and how your product can change your audience’s life.

When you think over these things, you can move to the next steps: finding out how your potential customer thinks.

Why do you need to explore your customer?

  • To identify the level of demand for your product.
  • For targeted advertising, therefore, to reduce marketing costs, time-saving and enhance conversion.
  • To select the best ways of communication with the audience.
  • To determine the most effective tools and sales channels.

Defining a business model is also an important aspect when forming the idea of your future LMS.

The business model is what distinguishes you from others, and this is your uniqueness. It reflects the basis of your competitive advantage.

Test your LMS idea. Special checklist from our CEO

1. Carry out a physical survey according to principle 10 pains and 10 gains. Ask your potential customers what they like the most in LMS platforms, and what annoys them. In fact, to make a successful product, you need to keep these numbers in your head.

2. Read negative reviews on your competitors. This point is similar to the previous one, but with a bigger level of honesty. An angry person is a frank person.

3. Hold a decomposition of your business plan. First, push your and your team’s needs into the background. Determine which average check and number of customers you need to support the workflow and motivation. After that, you will better plan the budget and product development plan.

4. Try to seek expert advice from more experienced colleagues or a team who has experience in this business field. They will be able to give advice relying on their experience.

Vasyl Polych, Founder & CEO at Northell

Ways to create LMS from scratch.

To build an LMS platform that will be valuable, you should first select the way you will build it. We can divide learning management systems into two different types: ready-made LMS and a custom LMS from scratch. 

Who needs a ready-made LMS?

A ready-made LMS already exists as a product. It has a basic set of features and is designed to fit many different companies and organizations. Such kind of platforms have the following advantages:

  • Quick start to work with;
  • Cheaper in the short term;
  • Tested many times by actual users;
  • Have a community of adopters for mutual support.

Who needs a custom LMS from scratch? 

A custom LMS or LMS from scratch is created with a specific customer’s requirements in mind. Many benefits will push you to choose this kind of system:

  • Control. As a product owner, you can decide what your platform will include, from the feature set to the deployment model and, of course, content. 
  • Great security. You can configure your system security and protect your users’ data. You choose the content protection methods before LMS implementation.
  • Better long-term value. In the long run, custom LMS is cheaper than ready-made ones. You do not need to pay licensing fees, regardless of how many users you have.

Comparison two types of LMS

Before deciding which LMS platform you want to implement for your business, you need to look through the following factors:

  • Necessary features in your LMS
  • The number of students/employees 
  • The necessity of extra add-ons
  • The way of students/employees progress measurement
  • Service provider

Core Features of learning management system in 2022 (Update)

Once you embark on LMS platform development, your development team has to consider the features that can be crucial for your learning management system. Let’s take a look at some basic but essential features for LMS management:

 Content and Course Management

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Northell Case Study: SmartJen

This must-have feature allows the creation of various types of eLearning courses: quizzes, assignments, etc., that will be used for employees’/learners’ training. Therefore, content management is a high-priority feature in an LMS.

Your LMS should allow users to add various materials to their courses: pictures, videos, charts, audio files, pdf files, etc. Such things significantly increase learners’ engagement and make content in courses more attractive.

Skill Tracking

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Northell Case Study: SmartJen

This feature is required more for organizations or enterprises where measuring employees’ performances is much more complicated due to undetermined timing for lectures. Thus, the visual skill tracking feature is aimed to assess employees’ skills, allowing them to learn at their own pace with asynchronous learning.

Well-organized statistics help you track the progress of learners, and as a result, you will understand what to keep in your training materials and what to remove.

Also, with the help of a good tracking system, you will be able to check which courses are popular among users and what slides they look at. You will also be able to monitor the level of preparation in each department and division.

Test statistics will help you assess which answer options your learners choose for each task, which questions of the test cause difficulties and what results they receive.

Social Learning

Social learning is an effective way to incentivize learners and to help educators reduce the pressure on them.

With a community experience, learners can get quick answers to their questions via chat or forums. By implementing a community feature in your LMS, you accelerate the overall learning process giving the learner more motivation in real-time collaboration mode.

Gamification

Over the past couple of years, gamification has become one of the main trends of modern corporate eLearning. According to the TalentLMS Gamification Survey study, the staff feels more motivated, productive and happy if gamification is used in eLearning. 61% of respondents are already trained using gamification and remain very pleased.

Another 33% would like to see more gamification items in their educational software.

Incorporating game design elements engages and inspires learners rather than traditional classrooms that lag behind in the modern lifestyle. Game-like incentives such as leaderboards, rewards, and levels can build stronger teams in your company or motivate students to keep learning.

Gartner analysts claim that the gamification feature is not necessary due to the high expenditures of its implementation in an LMS, and there are already several ready-made solutions.

However, those that really address your needs are hard to find. Therefore, hiring a software development team or LMS gamification provider may be a reasonable decision if you want this feature to be customized.

Test and survey management

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Northell Case Study: SmartJen

Today, many companies and training centers focus on online testing, feeling all the benefits that carry this tool for testing knowledge and skills. Test and survey management is an essential part of an LMS.

Online testing is used in various forms – these may be questionnaires, linguistic and numeric tests, or abstract logical tasks. Sometimes you need to give oral answers to the program questions.

The techniques are always different and depend on the organization’s goals.

Testing in training centers is a tool that makes it possible to objectively assess the knowledge and skills of a large number of students, with minimal time and financial resources. Currently, professional testing is used as the first selection stage not only in many large companies but also in small firms.

Applicants must pass automated tests to determine the manner of behavior, motivation, abilities, and candidates’ knowledge. This form of verification can also be applied in corporate training of personnel as a method for controlling performance.

Inserting videos from YouTube channels

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Northell Case Study: SmartJen

YouTube became the most popular video hosting site and the second most visited site globally by the number of visitors.

It contains a plethora of valuable educational videos. Adding the ability to insert a YouTube video into your training content will help you increase learners’ engagement and efficiency.

Sometimes it is better to show videos with important training material rather than writing long reads. Everybody knows that visual materials are more attractive and easier to understand. You will also save time creating learning content by using this handy feature.

How to start building your LMS? Create LMS from scratch!

Software product development process: 7 key steps

Create LMS: 7 key steps

The next step is learning how to build a learning management system. Before outsourcing a web development team of professionals or in-house experts to assist and support you through every step of software development, you need to analyze the process.

Step 1. Validate Your Idea

Many businesses fail due to their unreasonable investments into the wrong products. In order to prevent loss and anticipate your ROI, it is highly important to gain deep insights into your target audience and conduct industry research.

So before getting started creating an LMS web platform, validate your idea by learning about its value on the market.

For this purpose, we recommend answering the following questions:

  • What problems will my LMS solve users’ problems?
  • Why do I need to develop LMS?
  • What are my competitors and how do they manage to provide great UX.
  • Who will be engaged in LMS development?
  • What is the budget for LMS development?

Step 2. Create LMS project plan

Thoughtful planning of the future product functionality and the analysis of the learning management system requirements play a vital role in the entire project.

The entire plan should be clearly described, and the process should be based on the established techniques, the product should be carefully documented, all tasks are planned and monitored.

The LMS creation plan should describe the entire development process and associated tasks based on past projects’ accumulated experience and success. This will help facilitate many tasks and avoid situations leading to the failure of the product.

Step 3. Select the Best LMS Design & Web Development Partner

Before selecting a service provider for your learning management system there are several tips of advice worth taking into consideration:

Communication

Visibility and transparency in communication with the web development team you are going to hire need to be of high priority in order to prevent the risk of getting a different product than you envisioned. Your web development partners need to understand your requirements and elaborate upon them if needed.

At Northell, we keep our clients up-to-date at every step of product design and development providing all the details on the tech stack we use. It is essential to only start work on the product once all the features of the LMS are discussed.

Experience

The company that had prior experience and expertise in the domain is already aware of the possible pitfalls and how to mitigate risks. If the development team is experienced, they have ready-to-use features that can be utilized in your LMS platform development so that development time will be reduced as well as your budget.

Pricing

The company worth hiring for the development of your LMS system has to be flexible enough in terms of the pricing model that would be the most suitable for you. At Northell, we tend to offer pricing models such as:

  • A fixed price (when our team perform a certain scope of work for determining price)
  • Time and material (the client pay for the time spent on product development)
  • Dedicated team (monthly payment for our team rented by a client)

Post-launch Support

Signing a contract with the web development team is a good idea if you want to get continuous technical support during the year, for example, or just want to fix particular problems as per written request.

Step 4. Start from MVP of your LMS idea

To develop an LMS platform right, we recommend starting with the MVP of your LMS idea. A minimum viable product is a method to test your product by developing only core features to solve early adopters’ problems and mitigate risks in the long run. In our article about MVP for startups, you can get clarity on the benefits and process of the minimum viable product before custom software development.

An MVP checks the working hypotheses and gathers consumer responses. Often the company spends years working to test their hypotheses.

A study by CB Insights showed that in 42% of cases, the cause of the startup’s failure came from lack of market demand. An MVP helps make sure the product is in demand so your startup will be successful.

The best part of an MVP is that you create a real product that can be offered to customers. After observing the response to it, you can move forward with developing the product, taking note of consumers’ preferences. This way, the company will not start creating a product that customers will not want to buy, reducing the time and effort it takes to develop a successful product

Step 5. Create your own LMS design with the right UX

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Northell Case Study: SmartJen

The learning management system’s design should be simple and colorful, motivate learners to study, keep them focused, and not distract them from anything (advertising, other courses, pop-up windows, etc.). For design development, it is best to hire a specialized agency. At Northell, we have great experience in providing UX/UI design for LMS solutions.

According to SmallBizGenius, 88% of online users say they wouldn’t return to a product after having a bad user experience. People form 75% of their judgment based on a product’s credibility purely on its aesthetics.

Since technology is becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives, it is not surprising that users expect their online training platform to be fully responsive to work on various computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

A bad UX can easily discourage a learner from being in the right mindset to learn, leaving them feeling disengaged and frustrated, no matter how great the content is.

Step 6. Begin user testing

User Testing is a type of research in which the test audience will use your product. So you can see what works and what doesn’t. Testing LMS systems is necessary, as they contain many functionalities and a large number of people will use them in the future.

User testing should be carried out at an early stage of LMS creation. Advantages of user testing:

  • It helps determine the average time spent by user groups to perform essential tasks.
  • It saves a lot of money and time in the long run because the restructuring of the LMS is not an easy task.
  • It provides the best user interface for users of all demographic groups.
  • Companies can receive helpful information about how users are satisfied with their LMS.

At Northell, we use UX Eye Tracker, which explores user behavior during interaction with the product. Only 1% of companies use this method.

It helps designers and development teams optimize the interface and product design. Thanks to our UX LAB and UX Eye Tracker, we have significantly improved the SmartJen platform design and added more advanced features.

SmartJen is one example of a learning management system that helps teachers save time preparing for their classes while making the learning process more organized and fun.

Also Read: How LMS platforms drive online education in Singapore amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Step 7. Start your LMS development

To build LMS from scratch successfully, you must not miss anything. After you have completed all previous steps, you can start custom LMS development. At this stage, you will make the transformation of your idea into a material product, considering all the critical points of LMS that we mentioned above. Your goal is to make sure that the concept of ​​the product can be brought to the working sample.

Let’s take a look at the main stages of the LMS development process:

Stage 1. Product Documentation

During this phase, all relevant information is collected from clients to develop a product as per their expectations and requirements.

Stage 2.  Development 

Using the documentation and architecture from previous steps, software developers write code for the components. The tasks are divided between the team members according to their area of specialization. Front-end developers are responsible for the client-side of the application. Back-end developers are responsible for API and database development. DevOps team works on the CI/CD process.

Stage 3. Testing

QA engineers work on testing all delivered code and write automated tests for developed components.

Stage 4. Product Deployment and Integration

After the development and regression testing from the QA team, developers switch to product deployment and integration. The tested version of the software is delivered to the users for beta testing. The team collects user feedback, fixes all the bugs, and implements some improvements.

Stage 5. Maintenance

After deploying a product in the production environment, any issues that come up or improvements that need to be made are taken care of by the development team.

Step 8. Test and Launch your LMS solution

Ensuring smooth work of LMS features and functionalities by running them through various tests is a must-do. QA professionals guarantee the ultimate product quality and integrity. Here are the main requirements for QA:

  • Maintains a comprehensive QA checklist ensuring all designs, content, and assessment resources work properly.
  • Checks platform and device compatibility of the LMS website.
  • Scrutinizes every individual functionality.
  • Performs regression testing after each sprint.

Step 9. Get result and make analysis

Before starting LMS development, you should make an analysis of the collected results. The best way is to analyze what you need to improve in the future product, remove everything that doesn’t make sense, consider the strategy you will move on, and prepare for the development of a full-size LMS platform. Don’t forget about the LMS implementation project plan.

All these steps will help you build a precious and demanded product.

Step 10. Start building full size LMS product

Building an LMS is quite a challenging process. When you successfully go through all the steps we named above, you will be ready to build the full-size LMS platform. Do not rush and miss essential steps. Take into account everything that you did at each previous stage. Since you will have an MVP version of the product, it will be much easier to create a full-size one.

eLearning requirements and standards

Here we will talk about SCORM.SCORM, a format of electronic training courses, is a system of technical rules of the international standard. ADL developed this format in 1999. Almost all eLearning platforms recognize courses published in this format. With SCORM, you can use different programs, educational materials, films, audio lectures, and webinars.

The standard ensures the compatibility of individual software components and allows the reuse of specific blocks of educational materials created by various tools. The standard describes the interaction of LMS with a given structure of electronic courses.

With the advent of this format, the eLearning system became more streamlined since the development of courses was carried out according to uniform standards. Study materials are packed into zip archives in a certain order.

In archived form, text, image, and video files are used. The procedure for opening a file has become as convenient and straightforward as possible for learning. Today the format is popular all over the world.

Benefits of the SCORM format

Compared to other standards adopted in distance learning, SCORM provides special benefits to users:

  • Completion status. At the end of the course, the system displays the course completion status and the number of points earned;
  • Saving progress. If the learner takes a break, the progress is saved. Classes can be carried out in stages, with breaks in training for any number of minutes. If technical failures occur and the course is closed, then all information is saved;
  • Structure. Studying the educational material makes it possible to build a course with the rules for moving from one section to another. The learner can first go through the theoretical material, consolidate the knowledge gained with a video lesson, and then take practical classes;
  • Modularity. Educational materials in this format are presented in the form of separate modules. Separate blocks can be used in distance learning systems in other courses.

The main advantage is the ease of use, speed of learning and satisfaction with the needs of the majority. The disadvantages depend on:

  • technical means;
  • lack of practical training;
  • lack of an individual approach to students.

Whether or not to use SCORM usually comes down to a balance of two things: the benefits of using it and the cost (time and money spent implementing it).

Lms pricing. How much does it cost to create an LMS from scratch in 2022?

We can divide LMS prices into low-cost, middle-cost and high-cost. Let’s take a look at the approximate prices for each type, including design and development:

Low-cost LMS

  • From $15000 to $20000

This kind of LMS is better to create as an MVP one. 

Middle-cost LMS

  • From  $40000 to $50000

It is suitable for those who want to build a well-functioning solution with a basic set of features.  

High-cost LMS

  • From  $70000 to $100000

Choose this one if you want to create a high-quality product with advanced features.

The learning management system price directly depends on how many functions your project has, how complex your project is, how many LMS modules you would like to have, etc.

If you need a chat function, then what opportunities it will provide (chat one on one, group chat, the ability to create separate chats for each class and each item, the ability to connect the board demonstration) affects this as well. If you need the ability to create separate courses, it is vital to understand the functionality that should be assembled on the platform.

Wrapping Up

With technological advancements, the education sector is also changing. To keep up with the latest trends, startups/companies need and carve out their slice in the market. To do this, startups/companies need to know the best LMS practices and development process.

Developing eLearning websites needs a qualified web development partner who not only will help you in the development process but also in maintenance and support. If you need help and an estimate of the cost for a custom LMS development contact us, and we are always here for you.

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FAQ

What is the difference between LMS and eLearning?

The word eLearning refers to a comprehensive notion (electronic learning) that defines learning content that is given online. It has several advantages. Organizations may use eLearning to bring trainees up to speed on new methods and critical information in a timely and cost-effective manner.

When training information is supplied online, it is simpler to maintain training consistency. Furthermore, hosting the instructional content online allows learners to access it when and when they need it easily.

An LMS is a software platform that allows you to distribute learning materials online. Furthermore, it provides tools for managing training and development, increasing learner engagement, and creating a feeling of community.

In an LMS, you may assign the material to particular groups of learners. The system includes features for tracking how users go through the eLearning curriculum. It also includes features that allow learners to engage with the information and with one another, which is critical.

How do you create LMS from scratch in Python?

Our team uses different technical stacks to build LMS systems. By request during development, we can also use Python. Our developers know all the advantages and disadvantages of this stack, so they know exactly how to use it to create an LMS. For more information, we recommend that you contact our team.

How do I create a learning management system in WordPress?

WordPress allows you to create nearly any sort of website conceivable, including online learning programs. You may turn a platform into a complete WordPress Learning Management System (WordPress LMS) with the correct tools, allowing you to provide lessons, accept students, and even make money.

What programming language is used for LMS?

Any developer who would like to create an LMS from the ground up should use PHP to write the server-side. PHP is also a popular option for LMS since it is natively supported on practically all known platforms, including Linux, Windows, and macOS.

PHP is also incredibly adaptable since it is built into many web development frameworks such as Symfony and Laravel and is compatible with most databases such as MySQL, MongoDB, and many more.

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