LearnDash Can Be Scalable If You Take the Following Actions

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When choosing a learning management system to sell courses, you've probably noticed LearnDash gets recommended often as a good option for WordPress sites. However, if you are planning on managing a lot of students, some wonder if LearnDash can effectively scale to handle high volume.

My research showed that several experienced course creators were able to make LearnDash work for them at high volume by making some strategic decisions.

Is LearnDash scalable? Experienced users say that LearnDash is scalable for a high overall volume of students or simultaneous users if backend technological changes are made, a good website host is chosen, automation is used wherever possible, and additional add-ons are incorporated to provide more features and lessen work.

Many users who choose LearnDash may not be aware of what is involved if a course really takes off and attracts a lot of students. Higher volume means greater technological and administrative demands to keep your users happy and avoid problems that cause students to abandon the course or leave negative feedback on the Internet. Here are some tips from experienced users to help you avoid these problems.

Technological Tweaks That Vastly Improved Performance

 

Uncanny Owl is a company that provides tools for WordPress learning management systems like LearnDash. In their article, “How We Made LearnDash 75 Times Faster,” the company reported that LearnDash does quite well technologically up to a certain point. When the program needs to support over 100 simultaneous users and around 1,000 quizzes, they started to see significant website slowdown that was negatively impacting user experience.

Uncanny Owl discovered that by removing some default edit links in LearnDash posts that were rarely used, not listing all the quizzes by default, and by managing how quiz answers were submitted, they were able to speed up the site by 75x. They made all these changes without modifying core LearnDash code.

What is encouraging about Uncanny Owl's report is that simple modifications can make a relatively inexpensive plugin like LearnDash effective for high volume. You don't need to move to another course platform that will cost you thousands of dollars in ongoing commissions to handle a high volume of customers. You can pay once, make modifications when needed, and keep more of the course profits for yourself.

Choosing a Web Host That Can Handle a High Volume of Simultaneous Users

 

Another important factor in handling high volume LearnDash integrated web sites is who you choose as a web host. Yes, hosting matters in certain circumstances since some hosts are more well suited to handle the kind of technological requirements of sites running intensive database operations.

In 2016, Uncanny Owl published results from tests they did on different web hosts (Cloudways, Kinsta, and WPEngine) that simulated a high number of simultaneous users on LearnDash. They discovered all the hosts experienced severe page load time increases before the 100 simultaneous user mark was achieved. In the end, WPEngine was chosen as it was the least expensive even though it was not able to achieve their benchmark.

So what is a good web host for a high number of simultaneous users? In their earlier article on making LearnDash 75x faster, Uncanny Owl indicated that they worked with host Pressidium who helped provide some of their highly successful solutions.

In an article on their blog titled “High Performance Hosting for WordPress LearnDash,” Pressidium explains why LearnDash by nature is resource intensive and how their Enterprise level architecture is set up for high volume needs. In the article, Pressidium claims they, “successfully manage, and operate Enterprise LearnDash installations with thousands of concurrent users.” They go on to explain that this solution is possible through their proprietary database optimization techniques along with their load balanced server cluster option available on their Enterprise Plan.

Again, this solution is for sites that need to handle a lot of users (say 75 or more) that are on LearnDash at once. If you don't have this particular problem, less expensive solutions like WP Engine should work just fine.

Automate and Answer in Advance Where Possible

 

If you are a small operator that doesn't want to devote expensive human resources to managing a lot of students, you need to learn to use software to automate as many tasks as possible. Here are some ways you can take small, time wasting tasks and outsource them to software.

  • Quiz grading – when at all possible, make your quizzes gradable automatically. Cut down, or eliminate, essay or short answer questions and opt for multiple choice, true or false, or any other question type that doesn't require a human grader.
  • Build FAQs – build, and keep building, a valuable Frequently Asked Questions section to point students to before they contact you for an answer. Question answering can eat up a lot of time so help students help themselves. Incorporate FAQs from whatever technology providers your students are interacting with whenever possible. When a student asks a question that isn't in the FAQ, add it if it makes sense for future student reference.
  • Build Tutorials – For more complex questions or tasks not suited to an FAQ, build a tutorial. Any basic steps every student goes through can easily be demonstrated in a quick video and/or text tutorial.
  • Use Email Auto Responders – If students try to contact you with questions, use an auto responder to immediately provide links to relevant FAQs and tutorials. Then indicate if the student's question was not answered with these resources, they can click a link indicating they need you to contact them. This should cut down on the amount of questions you need to answer personally. Any good email service (we recommend Moosend) is going to have auto responder technology.
  • Use ZapierZapier is automation software that connects apps and software you already use with one another. Fortunately it has LearnDash integration. For instance, you can use Zapier to connect LearnDash with your email software or programs like Slack to automatically notify you or anyone on your team when a student enrolls in a course, completes an action, or finishes a course. Or you could send a student a word of encouragement if they complete a milestone within a course or send them offers for other courses once they finish.

Add Functionality By Integrating With Other Plugins

 

You can enhance LearnDash by integrating all kinds of other plugins. You can sell your LearnDash courses through WooCommerce, EasyDigitalDownloads, or through Stripe's payment gateway. You could use BBPress to make public or private forums to allow students to communicate with you or one another.

LearnDash also works with many common membership plugins like PaidMembershipsPro, MemberPress, and Restrict Content Pro so you can easily separate your free and paid content.

You can also make learning more fun and motivating by offering achievement badges and gamification features with BadgeOS or GamiPress. Sometimes simple little rewards can make a student feel like they are progressing in your course and achieving their personal goals. This kind of technology can encourage students to complete what they started. You can also use badges to incentivize students to purchase and complete more courses from you or reward them for spreading the word about your products.

These are only a few integration options and LearnDash lists many more here.

Related Questions

 

What other web hosts are recommended for LearnDash? Fortunately, LearnDash offers some suggestions for web hosts that their uses often pick and break them down in three different budget tiers. At the least expensive tier, LearnDash recommends SiteGround (the same host we use for this site). We agree with them that SiteGround offers a whole lot for the money spent. At the mid-range pricing tier, they recommend WPEngine and Kinsta. WPEngine is often recommend in general as a premium option for WordPress so it is good to see them listed here as a good choice for sites also running LearnDash. Finally, at the high end, LiquidWeb, Presidium, and Pantheon are recommended.

Is LearnDash the most strategic option for me? It depends on what you want to do, how much control you want to have, and how comfortable you are handling more on the technical side of course delivery and selling. If you are just starting out in course creation and don't want to worry about all those things, an easy to use all in one solution like Teachable might be the way to go. Dealing with technical issues may derail your momentum in getting your course to market. You can always switch over to LearnDash in the future if you think it will be a better option for you.

Helpful ResourcesLearn How to Create and Sell Courses The Market Wants

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Jim Rosenquist

Jim Rosenquist

Jim started earning a living online in 1999 and became a solo entrepreneur in 2001. He started Solo Intel in 2019 as a way to help solo entrepreneurs and small operators become more strategic with their online business.

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