Exploring the Best WordPress LMS Plugins for Building a Successful Membership Site

by | Jun 16, 2023 | How To, Business

The number of online learners will reach 57 million by 2027 — and the entire market will be worth more than $457 million by 2026. The best part of it? Creating a course based on your knowledge is easier than ever — even if you don’t know how to code a website. So the entry barrier is low, while the opportunity is massive.

If you want to tap into the growing online learning industry, look for the best WordPress LMS plugins.

Why WordPress for Your Courses?

WordPress is a versatile content management system (CMS) used to create more than 40% of the world’s websites. It comes with many WordPress LMS theme options, many of which are free, and plugins for pretty much every functionality you can think of.

Here are some of the most important reasons WordPress is a great choice for online educators:

  • Easy Setup. WordPress is easy to install and configure. You don’t need any coding skills or experience.
  • Accessibility. A WordPress website can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making it perfect for students who want to take your course online.
  • Security & Reliability. WordPress is renowned for its reliability and security levels, which gives you peace of mind that your content and courses are safe.
  • Affordable. WordPress is free to use and many affordable hosting plans are available, so you don’t need a big budget to get started.
  • Wide range of themes. You don’t need to be a web designer to create an attractive website. There are plenty of themes and templates available that you can easily customize to fit your brand.
  • Wide range of plugins. You can easily add features to your website with WordPress plugins; you don’t need to pay a web developer.
affordable learning management system

How Learning Management Systems Work on WordPress

A learning management system is a platform that enables you to create and manage digital courses. With WordPress plugins, you can easily turn your website into an educational platform with advanced functionalities like student registration, course content management, progress tracking, payment systems, and more.

Once a user registers on your site, they can access the materials related to their chosen course. You can also set up different levels and classes, depending on your content. This allows you to charge different pricing tiers, including a free one (which you can use to nurture your audience and convert them into paying customers.)

The Goal of a LMS Plugin

To find the best WordPress LMS, you must understand what a WordPress LMS plugin can do for you. Essentially, the main goal of an LMS plugin is to allow you to create an entire online learning system without having to code or hire a web developer. The plugin should also allow you to customize the look and feel of your entire educational experience, including course pages, assessment exercises, and certificates.

Finally, the plugin should also help you manage your members, track their progress and payment status, block different types of content, and even create “mini social media networks” where your students can communicate and network with each other.

online education industry wordpress lms

Key Features to Look At When Shopping for the Best WordPress LMS

When looking for a WordPress LMS, make sure you pay attention to the following features:

  • Ease of Use: The LMS should be easy to set up and configure, and it should offer an intuitive user experience
  • Compatibility: The LMS should be compatible with different types of content, such as audio and video files. It should also support SCORM standards and be able to integrate with payment gateways like PayPal. Flexibility: The LMS should offer a wide range of
  • Integrations: The LMS should be able to integrate with popular third-party tools like email marketing software, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and web design
  • Cost: The cost of the LMS should fit within your budget. Support: You need to make sure that you get access to adequate technical support if you run into any issues.

Now that you’re acquainted with the basics of WordPress LMS, let’s go through some of the best plugins available.

The Best WordPress LMS Plugins

There are a lot of WordPress LMS plugins available on the market, but the following have gained a lot of recognition and popularity, due to their features, pricing, and versatility. Here’s what you need to know about them:

Thrive Apprentice

Thrive Apprentice best WordPress LMS options

Thrive Apprentice is a robust WordPress plugin for building online courses and membership sites. It offers 80 pre-made course templates and a drag-and-drop course builder for easy organization. The plugin supports various media formats such as text, video, and audio lessons, allowing you to keep your students engaged. Furthermore, the plugin also provides a resource area for additional learning materials like links and PDFs.

Thrive Apprentice features a flexible content dripping feature to release lessons at consistent intervals. The Conditional Display feature enables personalized content for different users, while a custom course completion page with a downloadable certificate enhances the learning experience. The plugin includes an advanced reporting engine for detailed insights and integrates seamlessly with popular WordPress plugins and services like WooCommerce and email marketing platforms.

Pricing: Thrive Apprentice payments come in two versions: quarterly and yearly. You cannot buy just Thrive Apprentice, but the entire bundle of Thrive plugins (nine in total.) If you want to pay yearly, you must take $300/ Year out of your pocket for this plugin. The price is $147/ quarter if you want to pay quarterly.

Ultimate Membership Pro

Ultimate Membership Pro WordPress LMS

Ultimate Membership Pro is a membership site plugin that helps you build a membership site quickly and easily. It features advanced customization options to help you create an ideal learning environment according to your needs. The plugin supports various payment gateways, including PayPal and Stripe.

Other features in Ultimate Membership Pro include:

  • Affiliate program
  • Unlimited subscription packages
  • WooCommerce integration (if you want to sell merch, for example)
  • Advanced content restriction
  • Integrations with email marketing tools
  • Anti-spam signups
  • Membership cards
  • Social login
  • …And more

Price: Ultimate Membership Pro is $59 as a one-time payment for the basic plugin (41 addons included) and $149/ year for the addons bundle (46 advanced addons, including Paystack, double-authentication, Mailchimp Pro, reset password, and so on.)


LearnDash best WordPress LMS options

LearnDash is a user-friendly and feature-rich WordPress LMS plugin that enables the easy creation of online courses. With its drag-and-drop course builder, you can create lessons, quizzes, and categories. The plugin offers a drip feed feature to schedule content delivery and supports assignment management with approval and commenting options.

LearnDash includes quiz and test tools with various question types and customizable settings like time limits and randomized questions to prevent cheating. It also facilitates community interaction through dynamic forums and integrates with popular eCommerce plugins such as WooCommerce for monetization options. LearnDash supports multiple payment gateways and offers additional functionality through add-ons like Easy Digital Downloads and Uncanny Toolkit Pro.

Pricing: The basic price for LearnDash is $149/ year, for one site, $399/year for 10 sites, and $799/ year for unlimited sites. However, you can also buy hosting from LearnDash (for your video courses), at $25 to $81/ month, as well as a handful of add-ons, such as Propanel, GradebOok, or Notes, all of which come at $49/month.


LearnPress WordPress LMS

LearnPress is a free WordPress LMS plugin designed to offer a Moodle-like experience. It allows content reuse across courses and offers content export to other LearnPress-enabled WordPress sites. With built-in WordPress multisite support, it can manage multiple learning sites. Courses can be released for free or for a fee, with options for one-time or recurring payments.

This plugin offers premium addons for advanced features such as content dripping, paid memberships, and integration with bbPress and BuddyPress. While the initial setup may be challenging for beginners, LearnPress provides support through forums. While the plugin is free, additional functionality can be obtained through paid addons.

Pricing: LearnPress is free, but you can get the Pro addon bundle for $299.

Recommended WordPress LMS Plugins for Different Use Cases

Every business, teacher, and course development entrepreneur has different needs and expectations from their WordPress LMS plugins. However, the following LMS plugins excel in their categories:

Best WordPress LMS plugin for beginners or small-scale membership sites

If you are just starting out or run a very small-scale membership site, Thrive Apprentice is a good option.

Thrive Apprentice offers a user-friendly interface, 55+ pre-made course templates, and a drag-and-drop course builder, making creating organized modules, chapters, and lessons easy. It also provides features like content dripping, personalized content display, and a customizable course completion page.

Additionally, Thrive Apprentice integrates seamlessly with popular WordPress plugins and services, allowing for easy integration with existing setups. Overall, Thrive Apprentice offers the necessary features and ease of use for beginners or those managing small-scale membership sites.

Best WordPress LMS plugin for advanced features and customization

LearnDash ranks as one of the most popular advanced features and customization options. This plugin offers comprehensive tools and functionalities for managing online courses. It has a drag-and-drop course builder, content dripping, assignment management, quiz and test management with various question types, and flexible control over how students take tests and quizzes. 

It also provides features like dynamic forums for community interaction, integration with popular eCommerce plugins like MemberPress and WooCommerce for monetization options, and support for multiple payment gateways. LearnDash has a range of premium addons available for even more advanced capabilities, making it an excellent choice for those seeking advanced features for their membership site.Best WordPress LMS plugin for integration with third-party tools and platforms.

Best WordPress LMS plugin in all categories

Not that we’re bragging, but Ultimate Membership Pro is one of the best LMS plugins for WordPress. Itcombines ease of use, cost-savviness, and generous features (even without the premium addon). If you are looking for a LMS plugin that will enable you to grow from Day One and will never hinder your progress, we are the way to go.

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