What is a learning management system? Full explanation 2021.
Today, it is hard to imagine training without LMS (Learning Management System). It doesn’t matter whether you study in a state university or a corporate university.
In this article you will find out what an LMS system is, how to create an LMS from scratch, what LMS features modern companies use and lots of other critical LMS points.
Nowadays, almost every industry-specific business embraces advanced technologies. Mainly due to the global pandemic COVID-19, a tendency of leveraging technology-powered solutions is increasing; the education industry is not the 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.
Modern LMS platforms are distinguished by a convenient and flexible interface, comprehensive functionality, and distance learning with a qualitatively 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 at any time and anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection.
All training materials are stored in one place. It is convenient to adapt and revise depending on the purpose of learning and the scope of the company or the organization. Below is the infographic that shows LMS Market Growth Rate by Region (2019-2024). The United States occupies the top place. Europe and Asia take second place.
If you are looking for solutions to build your learning management system website (LMS), we have prepared a brief guide with features and advantages in mind. Considering that LMS can be developed for different purposes, let’s go into details to understand what is an LMS system 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 had improved when the possibility of feedback appeared. Then the teacher sent the theory and tasks by the post office, and the student, having studied it, sent the completed task back.
The next step in the development of learning management systems was the audio and video possibilities.
Then there were courses on video and audio cassettes. But the most powerful and decisive breakthrough allowed to make progress in the field of information technology.
After the invention of the computer, local networks from several combined machines began to appear.
Initially, they were used in universities, where they helped the teachers automate training.
The latest and decisive step in the development of the distance learning system was the creation of the Internet.
The 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 a lot of students at the same time.
A learning management system is software aimed to optimize learning processes and the way the education is delivered. Initially, LMS’s purpose was to enhance eLearning.
Still, now enterprises use LMS programs to ensure effective and efficient team-building by improving employee training, tracking and reporting features to make e-learning 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. Also, the owners of large corporations chose this type to control the system and make the 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 LMS, think about 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:
- Customer training. This kind of training is for companies that need to attract users effectively. Customer learning management provides more excellent product value and prevents user outflows.
- Partner training is an excellent way to improve affiliate programs and ensure greater value for counterparties by managing partner training.
- Supplier training is an exceptional opportunity to establish productive relationships and achieve mutual understanding using LMS as a service for suppliers learning.
- Employee training is used to increase the value of learning by creating centralized training content and facilitate interaction between employees using digital learning. Onboard learning management systems are extremely popular nowadays.
- The development and retention of employees. The use of LMS to manage personnel development is to support talent, as well as training and development of personnel and their skills. Within the framework of LMS, courses can be assigned to ensure that the staff acquires the necessary skills of work, has been informed about changes in products, etc.
- Employees testing and certification. LMS is often used to receive compulsory training and has been checking knowledge, tolerances, regulatory documents and certifications.
- Sales training. LMS plays a central role in the sales training system and provides sellers the necessary knowledge when they need it.
- Remote work. In current conditions, the distance learning system of remote employees becomes a vital necessity.
- Solution for HR. 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 starting building your LMS, you must thoroughly think over the LMS idea.
99% of new projects die. Why do these projects die? Because the product people build is not needed on the market and no one wants to use it.
The work on the project should begin not from the wording of a particular product 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 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. You should find out how your potential customer thinks.
It is essential to determine who your customer and your business model are.
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 a bit similar to the previous one, but with a bigger level of honesty. Since 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.
Ways to build your LMS project
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 2021 (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
This must-include feature allows creating various types of e-learning courses: quizzes, assignments, etc., that will be used for employees/learners’ training. Therefore, content management is a high-priority feature in 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.
This feature is required more for organizations or enterprises where measuring employees’ performance is much more complicated due to undetermined timing for lectures. Thus, the visual skill tracking feature is aimed to assess employee’s 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 you need to change 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 what answer options your learners choose for each task, what questions of the test cause difficulties and what results they receive.
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.
Over the past couple of years, gamification has become one of the main trends of modern corporate e-learning. According to the TalentLMS Gamification Survey study, the staff feels more motivated, productive, and happy if gamification is used in e-learning. 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 engage and inspire learners rather than traditional classrooms that leg behind in the modern lifestyle. Such game-like incentives like leaderboards, rewards, levels can foster building stronger teams in your company or motivate students to keep up learning.
Gartner analysts claim that the gamification feature is not a must-have due to the high expenditures of its implementation in LMS. There are already a plethora of 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 reasonable decision-making if you want this feature to be customized.
Test and survey management
Today, many companies and training centers pay their attention to online testing, feeling all the benefits that carry this tool for testing knowledge and skills. Test and survey management is an essential part of LMS.
Usually, online testing is used in various forms – these may be questionnaires, linguistic and numeric tests, abstract logical tasks. Sometimes you need to give oral answers to the program questions.
The techniques are always different and depend on the purposes that the organization puts.
Testing in training centers is a tool that makes it possible with minimal time and financial resources to objectively assess the knowledge and skills of a large number of students. 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
YouTube became the most popular video hosting and a second site globally by the number of visitors.
It contains a considerable number of different learning and valuable videos. Adding the ability to insert video from YouTube to 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 understandable. You will also save time creating learning content by using this handy feature.
How to start building your LMS?
The main question is how to build a learning management system? Before hiring an outsourcing web development team of professionals or in-house experts who would assist and support you on 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 products, which can turn out unworthy in the long run. In order to prevent loss and anticipate your ROI, it is of high importance to get deep insights into your target audience and conduct industry research.
So before getting started to create 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:
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 another product than you envisioned. Your web development partners need to understand your requirements and elaborate upon them if needed.
We at Northell, 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 start work on the product only once all the features of an LMS were discussed beforehand.
The company that had prior experience and expertise in the domain is already aware of the possible pitfalls and scenarios on 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 and your budget as well.
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 such pricing models 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)
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 fixing the 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 a profound clarification of the benefits and process of the minimum viable product before software custom development.
MVP checks the working hypotheses and helps get consumer responses. Often the company spends years of work to make sure the hypotheses are mistaken. The study of CB Insights showed that in 42% of cases, the cause of the startup’s failure becomes lack of market demand. MVP helps make sure the product is in demand or timely abandon the unprofitable idea.
The critical idea of MVP is that you create a real product that can be offered to customers. And then you are watching the response to it and graduate with the decision taking into account consumers’ preferences. So the company will not start creating a product that customers will not want to buy.
The main task of MVP is to reduce time and efforts to test the idea before the development of a full-fledged product.
Step 5. Create your own LMS design with the right UX
The learning management system’s design should be simple and contain colors, motivating 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. We, at Northell, 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 provided is.
Step 6. 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 is not. 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.
We, at Northell, use UX Eye Tracker that allows exploring 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 of the learning management system examples that helps teachers save time preparing for the classes while making the learning process more organized and fun.
Step 7. Starting 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 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.
Step 8. Test and Launch your LMS solution
To ensure smooth work of LMS features and functionalities running through various tests is a must-do. QA professionals are the guarantees of 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. It would be best if you analyzed 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 not to miss essential items. 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.
Lms pricing. How much does it cost to create an LMS from scratch in 2021?
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:
- From $15000 to $20000
This kind of LMS is better to create as an MVP one.
- From $40000 to $50000
It is suitable for those who want to build a well-functioning solution with a basic set of features.
- 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 and what complexity should be implemented in your project, how many LMS modules you would like to have, etc.
If you need a chat, 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). If you need the ability to create separate courses, it is vital to understand the functionality that should be assembled on the platform.
With technological advancements, the education sector is also changing. To keep up with the latest trends startups/companies need and carve out its slice in the market startups/companies need to know the best LMS practices and development process.
Developing e-learning websites need a qualified web development partner who not only will help you in the development process but also in maintenance and support. In case you need help and an estimate of the cost for a custom LMS development contact us, and we are always here for you.
- Which technology stack is best to use?
It all depends on the requirements, which product should be developed and what your goals are. We recommend using Angular or React on the front-end. On the back-end, we recommend using custom development with Laravel or Node. You can also use Python and .NET.
- How to make technical requirements for the project?
Making the right technical requirements is difficult, and it is better to entrust professionals in this case. However, your task as the product owner is to as accurately as possible visualize your goal, determine what customer problem you are trying to solve and which functionality must be in your LMS. Technical specialists build technical requirements relying on the requirements, functionality and vision of the desired product.
- Is it necessary to have an experience with CMS to create it?
Yes. Since each project is a unique experience. Don’t buy teams’ mistakes. At Northell, we successfully fulfill more than 4 mid-level and high-level projects.
- How big should the team be to build a LMS product?
For the project to be successful, you should attract specialists:
- UX designer
- UI designer