How to Build a Learning Management System From Scratch

Igor Skakovskyi posted on Feb 05, 2021, edited on Feb 18, 2021
How to Build a Learning Management System From Scratch

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the education sector has raised the demand for digital solutions for online education. The government education system moved towards web-based learning platforms and drove the market. The corporate industry started to adopt digital transformation and raised demand on learning platforms to train their staff cyber-hygiene, data handling, and more. 

Given such popularity of online learning, the idea to create a learning management system (LMS) website can be profitable in 2021. If you want to know how to create a sustainable and profitable LMS, keep reading.

Learning management systems market overview

According to Fortune Business Insights report, the global learning management system (LMS) market size was USD 8.76 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 38.10 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 19.7% during the forecast period. All this opened up opportunities for designing learning management systems.

learning management system market size

The popularity of LMS will only grow, as statistics tell us:

  • 77% of students who attended both online and face-to-face classes say their online experience is the same or better than their classroom experience.
  • In 2017, 77% of US companies adopted e-learning.
  • 72% of respondents said e-learning gives them advantages over competitors.
  • 67% of organizations provide e-learning through mobile.

Isn’t it promising? Imagine each business and learning center needs solutions to manage education online. Keep in mind this information when deciding to create an online learning platform and learn the industry trends.

Learning Management System Trends in 2021

If you want to make a learning management system, we suggest learning what key concepts are on-demand in the industry.

LMS Trends

  • Data analysis and LMS. As the number of e-learners grows and training platforms are integrated with other services, the need to process the data becomes crucial. Data analysis allows educators and executives to adopt the data-driven decision-making approach and improve the educational process and materials.
  • Moving towards learning experience platforms (LXP). Learning experience platforms deliver learners personalized content according to their needs. LXPs are mostly used in corporate training and can be integrated with LMS.  Many companies have started to implement training platforms into their corporate systems. Since staff training occurs at their own request, the demand for LXP increases. The benefits of personalized content and the ability to follow their own training program allow employees to gain the necessary knowledge quickly.
  • Virtual and augmented reality. Engaging students in the learning process is one of the main challenges for learning management systems. Popular VR / AR tools help solve this problem, allowing people to activate their motor skills and get close to real-world experience. LMS with VR is especially popular while learning medicine, astronomy, and architecture.
  • Mobile-first approach. More and more people are using mobile phones to work and study. Fifty-seven percent of employees usually access learning materials from mobile devices. LMS builders should adapt their products for mobile devices or even create an additional LMS app.
  • Social learning is gaining momentum. The opportunity to collaborate on the learning platform will be more needed than ever. Exchange of experience, knowledge, and ideas, the chance to work on a project in a team, and receive feedback brings the quality of e-learning to a new level.
Wondering how to create an online learning platform?
Read our guide

Learning Management System Must-have Features

Now that we know the industry trends, it’s time to explore the key features that every learning management system should have.

Content support system

Teaching materials are the foundation of the educational process. Help learners stay engaged by providing easy access to all the files needed for learning. The LMS must support various text, video, and audio file formats. Make an LMS where users can quickly find the content they need by creating an advanced content search. To make learning as comfortable as possible, let users share content from external sources through a learning management system.

Flexible e-learning management

Many people fail to complete online courses because they forget to follow their timetable. A flexible scheduling system will keep e-learners productive. The LMS should allow educators to offer multiple time slots to sign up for training and mentoring meetings. This flexibility will help students get support when they really need it. Create a reminder system so that students come to class on time and teachers know when it is convenient to give students support and feedback.

Assessment and skill tracking

Any LMS requires an assessment and tracking systems. With the assessment system, you can track student performance according to generally accepted standards. For companies, the ability to monitor their employees’ skill development allows executives to make decisions about wages, bonuses, and other work details.

You can build an assessment system based on tests and surveys. All test results must be saved to provide reports later. Consider also the possibility of obtaining certifications on the platform so that students can acquire the skills which meet government compliance.

Here’s an example of what a page with a task can look like. All necessary content and illustrations, as well as answer options, are placed in a user-friendly LMS website design. Straightforward navigation helps learners to go through the test smoothly.

LMS assessment task page

Reporting & Analytics

For a modern LMS, performing analysis is essential. The reports give a better understanding of the training efficiency, track progress, and adjust the direction towards your goals and objectives. Efficient reporting systems show data analysis in a user-friendly manner with charts, graphics, and tables. The typical set for LMS analysis and report features includes out-of-the-box and on-demand reporting, automatic reports on the set schedule, analytics dashboard, analytics setup docs, resources, etc.

Social learning

As social learning popularity grows, it’s a good practice to build a platform where learners could leave comments, share content, and collaborate on one project. By communicating on forums, students help each other solve problems and reduce teachers’ burden. Also, students have the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge. When we teach others, we better understand the material ourselves.

Gamification

Gamification makes the education process fun and interesting. Gamification boosts excitement and makes education addictive. Making mini-games for lessons can raise engagement and help with understanding difficult material. Interactive videos will encourage students to develop decision-making and critical thinking skills. Gamification also attracts more users and increases their retention. 

Let’s look at an example of how our company adjusted gamification to a learning management system. We provided interactive tasks, levels, and leaderboards to increase user engagement, retention, and course completion rates.

LMS gamification

Mobile learning

The popularity of mobile phones indicates that a modern LMS should at least have a responsive design or full-fledged mobile app. As eMarketer reports, an average US adult spends 3 hours and 43 minutes on mobile. Accessing their learning accounts via mobile devices will increase course completion rates. Consider this when creating your own LMS.

The Best Tech Stack to Build an LMS

Indeed, learning management systems have a lot of advanced features. When it comes to development, it’s crucial to choose a proper technology stack to build a stable, secure, maintainable, and scalable platform. We suggest paying attention to your project needs and consult your development partner. 

Just to help you get a better understanding of a web tech stack, we’ve prepared this table.

LMS web application structure

As you see, building web applications requires a lot of programming languages and tools. Here at Riseapps, we carefully choose a tech stack for each project to fulfill the unique needs of your business.

React Native for web applications

React Native for Web is an open-source framework for web development that allows building stable applications 1.5 times faster. The framework enables creating one code base for several applications, making it quickly scalable and cost-effective. We advise our clients to build their e-learning solutions on React Native for Web so they can soon enter the market and get their first profit.

Ready to build a custom learning management system?
Let’s talk

How to Build an LMS From Scratch

If you’ve decided to develop a learning management system from scratch, here are the steps you need to take: 

  1. Develop the LMS project plan
  2. Choose your development partner 
  3. Get yourself a team 
  4. Develop minimum viable product 
  5. Launch a pilot version 
  6. Perform final implementation

Step 1. Develop the LMS project plan

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Alan Lakein

If someone asks us how to develop an LMS without a project plan, we’ll say, “There’s no way.” A project plan is a starting point to help you figure out if investing in LMS is worth it. You’ll be able to assess which strategic actions will lead you to a positive return on investment. You’ll better understand the e-learning market and your target audience.

Ask yourself the next questions, If you want to succeed with your LMS software:

  • What is my main goal of creating a learning management system website?
  • Who is this platform for? What needs does it cover?
  • What features will satisfy my target audience?
  • Who will develop and implement the LMS? 

After answering these questions, take time and prepare an action plan. Highlight main objectives and set deadlines. Your goals should be specific and measurable; it’s how you’ll know you’re moving in the right direction.

Define how your success will look like to create a comprehensive roadmap for LMS implementation. Do not forget to assign executives: developers, managers, designers, etc. These people are responsible for the development, implementation, and result assessment.

Step 2. Choose your development partner

The next step is to choose the team of developers whose expertise meets your requirements. First and foremost, find people who’ve designed an LMS before. Read testimonials, test their product, and contact users who’ve been already using their apps. Learn their prices and ask about discount programs.

Since you will have close communication on such things as app architecture, features, and releases, think not just about the quality of their products but how they do business. 

  • Are they offering support on each development stage? 
  • Will they help with the implementation? 
  • Will they design an LMS UI/UX?
  • What prices do they charge? 
  • Will they give you post-implementation support?

Be sure they get your idea and share your way of thinking. It’ll help you quickly resolve any possible issues.

Step 3. Get yourself a team

Even if you found a top-notch development team, you scarcely can do all the management alone. Building an LMS from scratch requires experts from different fields.

Typically, the project team includes project managers, team leaders, experts (e-learning specialists), and IT administrators. Those people can either be your partners or outsourced specialists who’ll help you bring your idea to life the most efficient way. Tell them about your project and assign responsibilities according to your project plan. Make sure everyone understands their role.

Here are the key roles for any project team and their responsibilities.

Team leader
  • guides the team in achieving key goals
  • handles problems and conflicts
  • helps with time management
  • evaluates team progress
Project manager
  • creates project time plan
  • creates tasks for the team
  • holds team meetings
  • makes sure everybody meets deadlines 
E-learning specialist
  • consults about e-learning landscape
  • can give reasonable advice on how to improve the LMS
Development team
  • design and develop LMS
  • provide quality assurance
  • implement LMS

Step 4. Develop minimum viable product

The next step is dedicated to the minimum viable product (MVP) development. MVP is a version of your product with basic features to meet customers’ demands. Launching MVP allows for collecting feedback at the early stages of development and improving the product. 

Hold a series of meetings between the project team and the development team to highlight the critical features without which the LMS will not fully function. Divide tasks between developers, set deadlines, and let project managers control the process.

Be prepared to support your team during the development process and provide them with everything they need. When MVP is ready, you can proceed with launching the beta version.

Step 5. Launch a pilot version

A pilot version launch is necessary to identify possible errors in the systems interface and functionality. The development team will surely test the product for bugs. But sometimes, an ordinary user can help improve usability and suggest what your project is missing.

Gather a focus group to test the beta version of your LMS, study the user journey and make a plan to improve the system. Pass your observations to the developers and assign new tasks.

Step 6. Perform final implementation

Finally, you’re ready to launch your LMS. Now, when your project is going to an actual user, this is where the fun begins. Your team must be on the alert at all times, as unexpected challenges may occur. Here’re some useful tips on how to survive the implementation period:

  • Collect feedback from your users.
  • Create a strategic plan.
  • Develop a marketing strategy.  
  • Ask a development provider for support. 
  • Always improve!

We wish you luck and hope your learning management system will rock the market!

How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Learning Management System?

To understand how much it will cost to build your own LMS, you need to take into account the following factors: 

  • the size of the project (features, interface complexity, etc.), 
  • the team and the cost of their services (developers, managers, and others), 
  • project timing.

 The web version of the MVP with the basic functionality will take about 1,165 hours.

Estimations for a web-based LMS MVP

The price of your LMS may vary depending on the region where your developers work.

Region Hourly rate Basic level LMS
The USA $100-180 $116,500-209,700
Great Britain £100-180 $159,720-287,500
Western Europe €80-150 $112,000-210,000
Eastern Europe $30-70 $35,000-81,550
Ukraine $30-50 $35,000-58,000
India $15-30 $17,500-35,000

And don’t forget you don’t have to pay for everything at once. Many companies, including Riseapps, are working on a pay per milestone basis. All work on the project is planned according to milestones and sprints (2 weeks). After every sprint, we present the work to our client for payments. Continue reading to learn more about our experience. 

Ready to build a custom learning management system?
Let’s talk

Our Experience

Giving others the opportunity to prosper

Riseapps has over 2 years of experience in learning management system design. Our latest e-learning project is a social learning platform for people of color. Without technical expertise but having only a primary notion of required features, Juan Young needed a custom learning management system.

We provided Juan with full-cycle development services. The first task was to estimate project needs. According to Juan’s requirements, we’ve prepared a project plan, created a backlog, functional requirements, and technical documentation. And then the Melanence work began.

Tools we’ve used for this project:

Management Development
Scrum system

Agile approach

Frontend:

TypeScript, React, Redux + Saga, HTML, CSS.

Backend:

Python, Django, REST API, Paypal, AWS, Docker.

LMS web app

From designing UI/UX to developing the MVP, our team used best practices to make the platform reliable and functional. As a result, Juan got a custom LMS with all the functionality he wanted to implement. Now, Melanence gathers together entrepreneurs of color who help each other building businesses by sharing their knowledge via the platform. As of January 2021, the platform was valued at around $4.5 million.

Conclusion

In 2020 we observed how the coronavirus pandemic changed our lives. Education has moved online at high speed, which raised the demand for learning management systems. It’s probably a good time to enter the market with an e-learning solution.

If you want to create an LMS website, plan your project wisely. Get yourself a team of professional developers and qualified managers. Remember to evaluate results and collect feedback to meet your potential users’ needs.

If you have any questions left on learning management system development services, contact us, and we’ll gladly address your technology challenges.

FAQ


How to design a learning management system?

There are 6 steps to create your own LMS:

  1. Develop the LMS project plan
  2. Choose your development partner
  3. Get yourself a team
  4. Develop minimum viable product
  5. Launch a pilot version
  6. Perform final implementation

What are the trends for LMS in 2021?

In 2021, learning management systems will be adopting the next innovations:

  • Data analysis
  • VR/AR
  • Learning experience platforms (LXP)
  • Mobile-first development
  • Social learning

How much does it cost to make an LMS?

The cost of building an LMS depends on the size of the project, the development team, the cost of their services, and the project timing. The MVP web version with the basic functionality will take about 1,165 hours that is approximately $35,000-58,000.

Drop Riseapps a line if you need an experienced team to build your learning management system.


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