How to Build a Learning Management System from Scratch? Ultimate Guide 2023
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Since 2019, we’ve faced a rapid increase in the number of users who prefer digital learning over offline classes. The e-learning market amounted to $300 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow 14% in CAGR by 2032. So, if you ever considered venturing into this profitable industry, now is a good time.
The most frequently asked questions are why to start and how to create an LMS platform in the shortest period of time and with a large selection of interesting features. Particularly in this guide, we’ll reveal the types of educational systems, their basic and advanced functionality, and list all the algorithm steps of building them.
Table of Contents
What you need to know before creating an LMS
The first thing to learn when you create your own learning management system website is what LMS actually is. It’s a special digital environment where tutors can compose, edit, and upload training courses for the audience. Such platforms establish a thorough educational flow with various types of user grades, adaptive approaches, and assessment systems. They also provide a set of tools that makes content creation simple for teachers and understandable for learners. Users can add audio and video files here, compose scenarios and presentations, generate quizzes, and evaluate success rates. LMSs establish smooth e-learning for businesses of all sizes and types, including medicine, construction, engineering, and machinery, benefiting both tutors and students.
Educational systems consist of two parts: CMS, which, in most cases, represents an administration module, and a user’s cabinet. The first one is responsible for all the interactions between educators and the platform, including editing the existing lessons or writing new ones, monitoring the students' progress, contacting them, etc. In turn, those who access the platform as a student can explore course content, pass tests, and leave feedback for teachers.
Why is LMS important?
If you plan to start an LMS for your own company or establish a stable e-learning business, familiarize yourself with educational systems' main benefits. First, it helps to organize a smooth teaching process, storing all the vital content in a single location, which makes it easy to find. Next, all the platform users can access the files at any time and place they want. It makes the training affordable and convenient. Learners don’t have to wait for the next planned lesson and can manage their time more efficiently.
LMS tracks customers’ progress. So the employer can check if all the workers meet their milestones if, for example, it's a system for a corporate environment. Online platforms help to spot the areas of knowledge that need improvement. Based on users’ comments and performances, course creators can add supplemental material to fill the gaps and impact personal achievements.
Another LMS advantage lies in interactive elements like quizzes, which stimulate the assimilation, retention, and level of engagement. Trainees pass the courses faster and reach better outcomes.
Main reasons to launch an LMS platform
Having an idea of building an LMS from scratch, you should clearly define which corporate goals it can solve. Understanding your purposes will help you determine the software requirements, necessary features, and tech stack you need to be involved in the implementation. Let’s consider the main directions where e-learning LMS will support your business:
- Courses for staff. Regularly upgrading employees’ skills and qualifications is a must-have in the face of rapidly changing market demands and technological innovations. LMS for corporate workers allows to increase productivity, reduce time required for assimilation of new knowledge, and achieve better outcomes. Digital learning promotes workers’ involvement and improves their engagement level during the educational process.
- Partner training. Working with affiliates, you entrust them to represent your product or service to the end consumer. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure they have all the required knowledge, resources, and skills to do it effectively. Reliable LMS software is vital to a successful marketing strategy and effective sales
- Client education. As the research states, there is a 68% higher chance that trained customers will collaborate with your brand than those who have no idea about its values and benefits. Clients are more likely to adopt and engage with the product if they are equipped with open-source courses and receive continuous support. LMS teaches end-users about features specific to their interest and keeps the retention level by providing regular content updates.
- Employee assessment and certification. Create a custom LMS to monitor, track, and report on the progress and the process of knowledge assimilation for each worker. Thus, you’ll evaluate their skills or job suitability and detect bottlenecks that may require additional attention. It will help automatically draw the next stage in the training path and certifications, excluding messy spreadsheets and manual testing.
- Effective HR tool. You can make LMS an employee-centric program that automates hundreds of daily tasks performed by humans, converts paper documentation into digital one, and provides simple access to stored data from any device at the exact time when it’s needed.
Types of LMS and their characteristics
Now that you understand where LMS professional development can benefit your business, it’s time to think of how your custom solution should look. Depending on your company's objectives, you may choose one of the suitable LMS types. They all vary by functionality and focus on satisfying unique customers’ needs.
Such services work similarly to e-commerce online stores. Just like merchants upload their products for sale and write descriptions, course creators can add their educational materials covering a wide variety of topics and purposes. Learners will get access to the training after paying a fixed price through the integrated payment processor. You may examine the most popular examples, like Coursera, Udemy, and edX, to get a better understanding of how this type of LMS is organized.
Learning Management Ecosystems
As its name suggests, such LMS provides wider opportunities for creators and learners but requires more time, costs, and effort for development. Educational ecosystems may have an open-source type and offer such functionality as user verification, reporting, or even e-commerce online shops. Get familiar with the principles of LMS work in NeXus.
These platforms have a standard set of features allowing tutors to create and update courses, add personal customers’ accounts, and store their progress. They are perfect for a broad audience and internal usage (for example, for universities and schools). Abara and LearnPress are traditional LMS templates used worldwide.
High learning management system costs are the main reason why some businesses can’t afford to create custom educational platforms for specific purposes. Still, there are free-to-use resources with standard features, like Moodle and Sakai, where teachers can compile training lessons and edit them later.
If you want to create an LMS from scratch and target a narrower public, you should focus on this type of software. With gamification tools, custom notifications, and microlearning approaches, you’ll have higher chances to cover customers' specific needs.
Depending on your end-user demands, you may represent a unique solution that absorbs the best LMS features and has a customized UI/UX. Research the market, choose the most valuable options, and combine them in your own educational platform. Usually, systems that offer qualitative customer interactions and a high level of engagement are more profitable but also require larger investments.
Looking for a perfect example of a tailor-made LMS, explore the functionality of the HBX platform.
The Process of Creating an LMS
Now that we’ve learned what an LMS is and defined its possible types, let’s start discovering how to build a learning management system. By following the next steps, you may avoid common mistakes many brands face in the development process. If you don’t want your projects to become unviable within several years after their implementation, you should start by validating your idea on the market. Here are several steps you should take to prevent unprofitable investments:
- Figure out the purpose of creating LMS. Why do you need it? For client training, easy employee onboarding, general corporate education, sales preparation, increasing retention, etc.
- Think of which problems your custom LMS will solve. It can be reducing learning costs, cutting the onboarding time, or measuring the level of workers’ knowledge.
- Indicate the available budget and costs required to bring your idea to life.
- Determine a potential client and choose a suitable platform type.
- Specify the monetization model for your LMS: free or paid.
Let’s analyze the last point in more detail. You may set the paid subscription plan for your LMS with a free trial, which usually lasts around 14 days (but can also be up to one month). Your users will have enough time to check whether the system functionality fully satisfies their educational needs and later on pay to use it on a monthly or annual basis. Although such types of LMS are widespread, they strongly compete with free platforms. That’s why your service should provide exceptional features and high-quality maintenance to encourage customers to buy it. If your competitors’ product doesn’t have gamification tools, leaderboards, or scheduling, you have a high chance of attracting clients who require these functions.
Freemium software doesn’t take commissions from its users at its core. But to make your LMS bring profit, you may add premium features, like video calls, and set an affordable price for it.
Organize detailed planning to create your own LMS, which will look and function as requested. Start your project with the discovery phase to understand the wireframes and the expert team you’ll need for the development.
You’ll have to analyze business goals and vision to choose the most profitable niche for the LMS. Make a competitor research to define which best practices you may apply in your case. It’s unnecessary to reinvent the wheels when already working business models exist.
Analysis of requirements
You can’t develop a learning management system without understanding the basic and additional features it will have. The complete list of LMS functionality is up to the potential customers' needs. Still, we can highlight must-have options you should implement into the service to ensure a good educational experience:
- Customer permissions. Your LMS should become a secure learning space for creators and trainees. That’s why it’s important to provide limited access to certain information and functions for different types of platform users. Such an approach will increase the participants' trust and confidence in your service.
- User Management. To provide a continuous and productive educational process, teachers should be able to group students, organize assessments, send common and private messages and notifications, and so on.
- Data analytics. It’s impossible to evaluate the results and success of your training courses without detailed reports. Such information as time spent on the assimilation of the materials or individual and overall results in a specific topic allows to make on-time changes and improvements to the content.
- Testing and assessments. It is one of the most important features of the LMS as it allows tutors to define how trainees learn the materials. The set of tools should include simple tests with a single answer or more complicated quizzes with the ability to choose the right statement from several ones. This feature should also have time limits and deadlines.
- Notifications. Customers should stay informed when you add new educational materials, edit courses, leave comments and feedback, set deadlines, and make student assessments. They will receive reminders and push messages and always stay updated.
- Centralized data. You should store the materials in an organized and user-friendly structure. It will contribute to learning consistency and increase trainees’ engagement.
- Course management. Educators should be able to edit and change the required content even after publishing the course on the platform.
We’ve gotten familiar with the basic LMS requirements every successful educational service should meet. But your system can have a much broader functionality. It all depends on your business's goals, available costs, and customer demands you plan to satisfy. Additional features to consider in learning management systems development include:
- Offline learner tracker. You can allow customers to download separate parts of the content. In this case, you’ll need to assess their progress manually.
- Personalized UX. There’s a reliable method to make users more involved in the learning process. Suggest relevant material based on the student's level of knowledge, a suitable method of content representation, role, and history.
- Gamification. To keep the students’ engagement and retention high, provide earning points, leaderboards, and competitions between participants. Such an approach will boost interest and increase the entire productivity of the group.
- Integrations. You may want to build LMS from scratch and integrate it with other software. Then, you can think of implementing a learning platform into corporate CRM with the possibility to send emails and make payments.
- Compliance checker. Some businesses must test whether they train the right people to correspond with internal policy and law regulations.
- Scheduling. Add calendars and allow creators to set deadlines for learning a particular chapter of the training material and the entire curriculum.
- White labeling. If you intend an educational service for general use, you may allow stakeholders to add their own logos, change themes, and apply other branded details within ready-made templates.
How to develop LMS without missing a single detail? The best decision is to outsource a product to an experienced team, like Multi-Programming Solutions. A skillful vendor will help to overcome all the challenges during the creation of the educational app, from the idea validation to the implementation of the necessary features, testing, and support.
The learning management system user interface (UI) is the first thing customers face when interacting with the material. That’s why a well-thought-out LMS design is one of the main keys to product success. UI elements include menus, welcome screens, icons, search fields, and many others. You should pay attention to the module shapes and color schemes as well as overall system responsiveness and accuracy.
It’s crucial that all the components of your platform look flawless on any device and can adapt to every screen resolution. Many customers access training content on the go from their mobiles, so your web resource should be compatible with most OS, like Android, iOS, Windows, etc.
When all the information about the business goals, LMS ideas, and requirements are documented in the specifications, the project proceeds to the development phase. At this stage, IT specialists use the designers' technical expertise to turn the screen mockups of the future LMS system into an operational product.
The whole process consists of separate sprints. Usually, each one lasts around two weeks, during which developers should realize a certain part of the platform functionality. The procedure remains the same, regardless of whether you run the project in-house or delegate the implementation of the learning management system LMS process flow to the third-party company. Still, outsourcing has significant benefits:
- You can easily scale the team up and down without extra costs on hiring, depending on the scope of work, its complexity, and urgency.
- You save time and costs working with a company that already has required staff, equipment, and expertise in developing similar LMSs.
- The tech partner funds the process while you pay for the result. Both sides are interested in fair and productive cooperation.
Testing of the product
The best way to check whether you make everything right is to create a minimum viable product (MVP) for LMS. The first version of your service may include basic functionality enough to gather users' feedback and conclude about the efficiency of your product. MVP will help to evaluate whether the chosen set of features caters to the target clients and can satisfy their needs.
To reach a broader audience, you should conduct a marketing campaign at least about a month before release. Otherwise, it risks going unnoticed. Promote the upcoming LMS through social media, paid advertisements, and affiliate programs. These methods will help you to get the first platform users.
Deployment and maintenance
As soon as the test proves that every feature works as required, the LMS is deployed. Now, it’s time to think of continuous support and improvements. Gather customers' reviews and analyze which parts of your system run well and where you can make the users' experience better.
Now, you may start implementing the additional features described above. By making customers’ journeys even more engaging, you also can generate extra income. Thus, you may provide a premium subscription plan for your LMS with expanded functionality. Monitor the latest trends in modern technologies and update your software on time, going one step ahead of your competitors. And don’t forget to send clients notifications, keeping their interest in using your service.
How much does it take to build LMS?
There’s no fixed time for developing the learning management system because every case is unique. Generally, it takes around four to six months to create a simple LMS platform with basic functionality. The process covers the discovery phase, market and business analyses, design, features implementation, and testing.
If you’re ready to plunge into the e-learning industry and want to create a custom learning management system, you should follow several vital steps. Start by determining your business goals and target audience. Analyze the most profitable niche to launch your LMS. You may create a platform for clients, partners, and staff training or even cover different purposes in one digital solution. Research your rivals and find inspiration in their already functioning services.
The next step is to compile a list of features that will help solve your client’s pain points. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of working with a software development team. If you lack in-house specialists, outsource the entire project or its part to a third-party company. MPS experts will lead you through all the phases of project implementation, helping with business analytics, system requirements, UI/UX design, testing, and further maintenance. Contact us to discuss the digital solution that will work best for your business.