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How I Built my LMS with WordPress & LearnDash

How I Built my LMS with WordPress & LearnDash

Recently, I decided to rebuild my online courses website without writing any custom code. In this session, I’ll show you exactly what tools I used and I connected WordPress, LearnDash (a popular WordPress-based LMS), and WooCommerce to quickly and cheaply create a user-friendly websites that allows me to focus on creating engaging and effective courses.

More at https://casabona.org/ldc18


Joe Casabona

June 12, 2018


  1. How I Built my LMS with WordPress & LearnDash For

    Cheap! casabona.org/ldc18 @jcasabona
  2. @jcasabona The Empire State Building

  3. @jcasabona Planning the Empire State Building • Plans went through

    15 versions before final approval • Went from 25 to 80 Stories • Fierce competition with Chrysler Building for title of “World’s Tallest” • All before the demolition of the Waldorf- Astoria
  4. @jcasabona The Web Doesn’t Have to be Like That.

  5. @jcasabona My First Online Course Site • 3 Years ago

    I decided to start selling online training • As a web developer I knew I needed some tools • I planned nothing, not even the name
  6. @jcasabona It was a little rough

  7. @jcasabona • This worked OK but it was janky •

    I just threw in features as I needed them • I ended up with a Frankenstein website
  8. @jcasabona Imagine if the Architects for the Empire State Building

    did that?
  9. @jcasabona I Decided to Start Over

  10. @jcasabona The Plan • Build new, completely separate site, with

    brand new name • Keep old site running indefinitely • Migrate courses over to new site • Do not migrate pages • Migrate users upon request • Announce new site / add info to old site
  11. @jcasabona Important Notes 1.Define mission of site 2.Come up with

    list of features 3.Come up with budget (spend money but don’t go crazy) 4.Limit personal development (but don’t rule it out completely)
  12. @jcasabona Defining the Mission • Why did I want to

    make courses online? • The why wasn’t enough. I needed a clear mission for what the site would be.
  13. @jcasabona Show people how to make stuff online, by actually

    making it online.
  14. @jcasabona Mission • Show people how to use tools to

    build websites • Learn by Doing. At the end of each course, they’d have something tangible that they made • Skill level: Beginner site builder to beginner programmer
  15. @jcasabona I had to do Research

  16. @jcasabona -Neil Armstrong “Research is creating new knowledge.”

  17. @jcasabona My Research • Take a bunch of online courses!

    • Did Masterclass, Hollens Creator Academy, Lynda/LinkedIn Learning, Udemy • Took notes on experience, setup, additional features, and pricing model.
  18. @jcasabona It was a lot of fun

  19. @jcasabona Feature Set • Allow Students to buy a course

    and automatically register them • Break courses down by lessons and topics • Lock down courses to force lesson progression • Use videos, or don’t… • Automatically email students throughout the courses • Create a community through forums
  20. @jcasabona Future Features • Bundle Courses together • Group registration

    and management • Memberships - pay annual fee for access to all courses
  21. @jcasabona Now the Tools

  22. @jcasabona Tools • WordPress for the CMS / Underlying architecture

    • LearnDash for the LMS • WooCommerce for eCommerce • bbPress for the Forums • Theme: Academy Pro by StudioPress
  23. @jcasabona Why These? • I’ve used WordPress for 15 Years

    • I know all of these play nice together. • LearnDash has extensions for WooCommerce, bbPress, and other tools I’m using (like ConvertKit) • I trust StudioPress to make good, beautiful themes, and this one focuses on online courses.
  24. @jcasabona

  25. @jcasabona Putting it all together

  26. @jcasabona Steps • Buy a New Domain • Select Hosting

    • Install WordPress • Configure LearnDash, WooCommerce, and bbPress • Configure & Customize Theme • Connect Everything
  27. @jcasabona Choosing a Name • I needed a new domain.

    The current name was bad. • I settled on “Creator Courses.” It was available, and clearly communicated what the site was. • Step 1: done. creatorcourses.com
  28. @jcasabona Choosing Hosting • Had to be fast for both

    logged out and logged in users. • Had to be easy to manage • Take backups • Hosting Company: Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting
  29. @jcasabona Bonus: They Installed WordPress for Me

  30. @jcasabona Using LearnDash • A Tour of the Site would

    be better for this! But first… • I was able to connect my courses to products in WooCommerce • I was also able to create private forums in bbPress for only those registered in the course
  31. @jcasabona Minor Changes to the Theme • Academy Pro is

    great but I did want to make some changes • Styles to support bbPress and LearnDash better • Added Advanced Custom Fields to add a video URL. • Made video full width at top of page
  32. @jcasabona Time for a Quick Tour…

  33. @jcasabona Total Price of Site

  34. @jcasabona Breakdown • Domain: $13/year • Hosting: $69/month • WordPress,

    WooCommerce, bbPress: FREE • LearnDash: $159/year • Academy Pro: $60 • ACF: $99 Total: $1,159 / $1,000 / $331 (no hosting)
  35. @jcasabona Joe Casabona casabona.org/ldc18 Educator, Developer, Podcaster @jcasabona casabona.org