How to Develop a Learning Management System – Cost and Features
Have you seen how eLearning has turned into one of the most powerful and reliable ways to educate? This allows optimal learning for individuals without the need for a physical institution. This is a perfect way for educators to create a virtual environment with training courses that allow the students to gain access to valuable information.
Today, we are going to explain the details regarding this process and what you need to consider in order to start development.
It’s important to keep in mind that LMS development is going to require a lot of work to be done and it won’t be something that is going to happen overnight. Making the right decision for the Learning Management System development process involves a certain amount of work and planning. This is the reason why we are going to help you by providing some guidelines to make this process easier.
What is a Learning Management System?
A Learning Management System (LMS) is basically a software solution that allows educators to host a virtual environment for creating and publishing educational content. LMS allows educators to administer and assess the progress of students through their courses through different features and tools of LMS.
There are two specific interfaces that need to be created when you are building an LMS.
The Admin Interface
The admin interface is the area of the software that cannot be seen by the users. It provides a control panel for everything that is happening within the software solution. This allows the person managing the software to update courses, to add new ones, to analyse their progress with analytics that are only available on the back end, and much more.
The User Interface
The user interface is the area of the software that is available to those who use it to learn. This area is also available to the manager as it is a public area that is accessible for those who install the software. This interface is usually meant to be a very simple and easy to navigate structure that will make it simple for those who seek to learn on that specific platform.
Types of LMS: Which one’s right for your business?
A reliable LMS solution is not just about being able to create something that is programmed properly, you also need to think of the type of LMS that you are going to use. There are several types of Learning Management System and they all have different use cases, features, and structures.
The Commercial LMS
This is the type of LMS that is the most solid for those who are looking to create a very robust and reliable digital environment for the purpose of education. These are very expensive LMS solutions and not the choice that is most viable due to the costs, but it is a great option for those who can afford it.
The Free LMS
This is the type of LMS that is free and open source for anyone to use to build their LMS, and this allows for a huge level of customisation and modification given that the source is open for everyone to use as they see fit. The main downside in this case is that you are not going to see optimal support from the developers, but there are usually communities online that are very helpful. LMS Schoology is the most popular. Not to be confused with LMS school which is also another popular term.
The Enterprise LMS
This is the kind of LMS that you are most likely to use if you are looking to help with the training process in companies that have hundreds of employees. This type of LMS is usually packed with extra features that allow you to handle very large groups of people.
The SaaS LMS
Probably the easiest LMS to deploy and start using and this has made it the most popular type for those who want to create a reliable LMS. It’s very important to see the value and the reliability of this particular solution that often includes a number of free updates and upgrades.
The Individual LMS
This is the complete opposite of the enterprise LMS as it is meant to be used by small companies or small groups of people. They are also packed with features, but they are missing some of the features that allow larger groups to be managed efficiently.
The On-Premise LMS
This one is very specific because it is installed and managed from the customer’s servers. This is only ideal when the company looking for this type of solution wants to have optimal security in terms of the user data.
How to Build a LMS
There are many steps that you should always keep in mind when you start the process of building a reliable LMS solution. We are going to share some crucial steps that are going to be very helpful when you decide to get started with the process of building your Learning Management Solution.
1. Draw Up a Project Plan
This is extremely important because it will build a solid foundation regarding the kind of features that you offer to your audience in your Learning Management System. Always consider this and think of the many ways that you can help with this process. You have to picture how you want this to affect the lives of those who make use of the platform. Why do you want to create the LMS and what are you looking to achieve with it are good questions to ask yourself.
2. Come Up with Features
You need to be able to dig deep into the details regarding your target audience in order to understand what kind of features are going to be optimal for their needs. We are going to dig deeper into this subject later in this article, but the focus at first is to define what features will allow for the best user experience.
3. Make Sure Responsive Design is Used
This is going to be of paramount importance and you need to ensure that the content will look optimal on all browsers, all resolutions, and all kinds of devices. Responsive design can greatly influence how many mobile users will use your LMS solution.
4. Create a Business Specification Document
Everything related to the business needs to be included in this docent and this means that your goals, your LMS system requirements, the features, the considerations regarding future updates, should all be described in great detail.
5. Development Process
Once the development process starts, your designer and developer will create mockups of the LMS by basing those design decisions on your requests and requirements. This is the part in which developers have to shine and they need to make use of their skills to create something truly outstanding for their customers.
6. Consider Your Marketing Strategies
You have to make sure that the process of releasing the LMS is going to be met with a large audience that is going to be interested in using your Learning Management Solution. The sooner you can start marketing through the most reliable and efficient channels, the better. A good marketing company is always an important consideration.
7. Feedback-Based Support
Once the product is launched and your LMS is functioning and being used by the target audience, you can start to look into the feedback you get from them in order to upgrade the software as required. This is going to be important and you need to make sure that all issues and complaints are addressed.
Here are some of the commonly requested features for LMS development
If you are having a hard time identifying the features you want for your LMS, you will find it very easy to make a proper decision once you have learned about the ones that are most commonly requested.
The main and most useful include:
- User Management and Group Management
- Course Management
- Analytics and Reports
- User Permissions
User Management and Group Management
Being able to organise the learning environment with students that are in specific groups and assigning specific tests to certain individuals or groups is going to be extremely important. If you do not have this feature, you will have a hard time racking your students and their specific needs.
Being able to manage everything related to the courses you offer in your LMS is going to be crucial if you want to get the right kind of results. This means that the management system needs to have a reliable and intuitive editor that you can use to create courses, to edit them and to upgrade them when necessary.
Analytics and reports
To be able to find out how well your students are doing and how much progress they are being able to achieve with the courses is crucial. This is going to allow you to measure their performance, but it also gives you an idea of the effectiveness of your learning material. This is one of the reasons why a robust and reliable analytics and reports feature needs to be implemented.
This is also going to be important because it will allow you to assign different roles to people who help you manage the LMS, and it will allow you to give different types of access to students depending on their enrolment.
Being able to get notifications when any of your courses is taken by a student and to have notifications about their progress is also going to be very important. This is going to allow you to track any kind of activity that takes place within the platform.
Being able to provide tests in order to get an accurate assessment of your students is going to be very important. This is essential to have in your platform because it will be the best way to verify how the students are performing and how much they are learning from your courses.
Create a detailed list of the features for your LMS
This is very important when you are looking to get a proper estimate on the development costs when you plan on hiring a reliable LMS development team. This is basically like a blueprint of the expect results and this is going to be very useful for the LSM developers.
Aside from the features you expect, you also need to make sure that the design is responsive so that it will adapt seamlessly to any device or resolution. This is crucial if you want to be able to reach a larger audience that is using mobile devices for anything related to online browsing and learning.
The Development Process
Choosing a truly reliable and efficient LMS development team
We have mentioned the importance of asking for estimates in order to see which development team for LMS solutions is going to be the best for your needs. With that said, the free estimate is only one of the many things that you need to consider in order to make this decision.
There are several options you can consider and the following are the most common:
- In House Teams
- Outsourced Developers
In House Teams
When you decide to go for this option, it means that you will be hiring a team of developers that will be working as employees of your company. This is great for the convenience of having your own team working on your LMS, but it is also a very expensive decision due to the office space, equipment, and full employee benefits that you need to offer to the developers.
The best thing about his process is that you can forget about the expenses of equipment, office space and employee benefits. By hiring an outsourced team, they will be working on their own offices and using their own equipment to develop your LMS. They will only be using your offices when you have progress meetings, but even those can be held online for convenience.
The third option is that you can decide to hire a freelancer that is going to do this from their location and with their own equipment. By hiring a single freelancer, you are going to be able to cut back on expenses and this is usually a better choice for smaller projects.
The Costs of LMS Development
Hiring a developer or development team for this kind of project is going to require a certain level of investment that will depend greatly on the amount of time needed to get a finished product. The most basic development process for an LMS platform is going to take between 1000 and 1500 hours of work.
The hourly rates for this are going to be affected by several factors, but the location of the developer is often the biggest consideration. With hour rates that range between $25 and $60 depending on the location of the developer or developers, we could set this to an average of $35 to $40 an hour in most scenarios. When you add this up, you get figures that move around the $38K and $50K with a custom LMS that offers basic functions.
When you get to more complex and robust LMS projects, you could be looking at expenses that each the 100k mark, but that is also going to depend on many factors. The point is that you can’t easily determine the total value of LMS development, but this information gives you a rough estimate.
It is important to note that any interruptions or modifications in the project that could be cause by the client are also going to delay this process. Given that this is the kind of work that is paid with hourly rates, it is always best to ensure a smooth workflow. This is the reason why it is so important to ensure that you can start the project with enough information.
The following table shows you the average hourly rates in several regions:
|USA||$70 to $150|
|Israel||$100 to $200|
|Western Europe||$50 to $200|
|Eastern Europe||$20 to $50|
|Latin America||$30 to $50|
|Australia||$100 to $150|
|Africa||$20 to $45|
The Importance of Experienced Developers
There are many developers who are fresh out of their training and they have yet to experience the many obstacles of an actual project. This is the reason why it can be a better idea to ensure that the LMS development team or the LMS developer you choose is going to have the required experience to ensure that this is going to be a smooth process.
When someone becomes an LMS developer and they have no experience with an actual project, it may be harder for them to handle and overcome many unexpected challenges. This is why it is extremely important that you choose someone who is going to be able to handle this in a way that will ensure the best outcome for your investment.
Look for their past project and find out how well they did with the results in LMS, but if you don’t find any LMS service experience, any type of experience in development for a business will be useful. This is the most relevant thing to keep in mind.
Make sure that they are good at communication
When you contact any LMS development team or LMS developer, you want to make sure that this person or this team will be able to communicate properly with your team. This is essential if you want to get optimal results from this interaction.
The process of LMS development is not on that can be taken lightly as it does require a certain amount of specific work to be done. This means that you need to consider several important things before you even make a decision. Hopefully the contents that you just read are going to help you make this process much easier to handle when deciding on the LMS service that you are planning to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take an LMS to be developed?
This is now an easy question to answer and it will depend heavily on the team you hire and also on the number of features that you require. This is not going to be possible to determine without those factors being accounted for and this means it could be something that takes a month or several months.
What are the most common types of LMS?
There are six specific types and they include on-premise, individual, free, commercial, enterprise, and SaaS. They all have their own pros and cons and they all provide different kinds of results.
How can I create my own LMS?
If you have development skills, you could do this on your own, but most people don’t have the required knowledge to create their own LMS. Alternatively, you could use existing LMS solutions that are very easy to customise.
How can I get LMS training?
There are several ways to learn how to create LMS or how to use LMS and they are available in courses online and offline.