#Guides #Tech | 20 min read | Updated: 12/5/2022

5 Tips for Building a Trendy E-Learning Website: Key Features to Include

Updated: 12/5/2022
, Founder of Sloboda Studio
#Guides #Tech
20 min read

From college students and teachers to companies and their employees, the demand for online education and learning has never been higher.

The global digital education market reached $11.5 billion in 2021 and is expected to account for $46.7 billion by 2026.

Such forecasts show that the online learning industry is extremely favored by investors, innovative startups, and a huge target audience.

It’s not only e-Learning startups that are building e-Learning platforms. Many offline businesses, including educational institutions, are considering building their online platforms as well.

But how to build an e-Learning website and be exceptional? What features to implement?

These questions are always among the most important for entrepreneurs. In this article, we’ll look into all of them.

How to Build an E-Learning Website: Online Education Market Overview

The predicted incremental growth of the e-Learning market size is estimated to be $1.72 trillion at a CAGR of 16.35% from 2021 to 2026.

Based on the Digital Education Market report, the major factors that drove the growth of the e-Learning sector include:

  • Increased Internet penetration;
  • Reduced infrastructure cost;
  • Grown scalability using online learning; 
  • Increased efficiency;
  • Greater convenience and flexibility; 
  • Rising demand for microlearning.

The pandemic has accelerated the evolution of education technologies. As of now, more and more schools, universities, and colleges are moving online, converting their traditional classrooms into digital spaces. And it’s a whole new world for offline educational institutions.

That said, the coronavirus crisis has become a driving force for accelerating the development of the e-Learning industry.

Based on Open Innovation study, e-Learning has brought many advantages to both learners and tutors, including:

  • flexible schedules and communication;
  • time and cost savings;
  • greater opportunity for postgraduate study;
  • better attendance at classes.

When schools and universities across the world closed, video-conferencing tools like Zoom, Google Classroom, or Skype, became mainstream, offering the most convenient way of a virtual face-to-face experience. Out of all tools used so far, Zoom has arisen as the most preferred one.

As reported by Exploring Students Online Learning: Study of Zoom, 40% of students agreed that Zoom proved to be effective during their online courses and positively affected the learning process.

Exploring Students Online Learning: Study of Zoom

Exploring Students Online Learning: Study of Zoom

 

4 Main Types Of E-Learning Platforms

Basically, there are 4 main business types for e-Learning websites:

Main Types Of Learning Platforms

Learning Management System (LMS)

Tutorroom Home Page


Tutorroom Home Page

The learning management system is a software application for administering educational courses as part of remote learning. The first LMS appeared in the 1990s and was initially used by universities and colleges. However, now LMSs are used both by corporations for training their employees and by higher education institutions.

The LMS market is expected to grow to $22.4 billion by 2023. One of the key drivers for the LMS market is the adoption of digital education. 

How does an LMS work?

LMS offers an online learning platform for students or employees to access recorded lectures, courses, resources, and live discussions.

According to Bloomberg, many schools use LMSs from Blackboard Inc. or Instructure Inc., which operate a popular platform called Canvas, an online course platform.

Examples: Tutorroom, Tutorially, BlezGo, Teachworks, Moodle.

Online Course Platform

Udemy Home Page

Udemy Home Page

An online course platform offers video courses from experts in different areas. 

How does the online platform work?

Users choose online courses by checking out demo videos and reading reviews. Then, users get lifelong access to videos and online assessments. Usually, this type of e-Learning site provides certificates after course completion. 

These online learning platforms are growing enormously. Let’s take Udemy or Coursera as an example. In March-April 2020, one of the soft skills Udemy courses surged 231% in popularity, and another 146%.

But perhaps, the most impressive story of online course platform growth is Lynda.com. In 2013, this platform raised $103M in funding. In 2015, it was acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. This platform is now known as LinkedIn Learning.

Another example is Natalie Bacon, who made $5,917.95 in 5 days after releasing her online course. SmartBlogger makes over $1 million per year from selling online courses for bloggers.

Examples: Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning.

Online Learning Marketplace

Preply Home Page

Preply Home Page

An online learning marketplace is a mediator between educators and learners that connects both sides on one platform. Such marketplaces allow users to browse and book one-on-one or group video lessons with tutors. 

How does an online learning marketplace work?

A user enters a keyword into a search bar. Then, a user chooses a teacher based on reviews, ratings, and the teacher’s profile description. If necessary, a user can contact a tutor with additional questions. Usually, online learning marketplaces offer one-on-one live classes via a video call.

An e-Learning platform can either be managed or a freelance online learning marketplace. 

The teams of managed marketplaces play a bigger role in managing all the platform’s activities, such as:

  • the verification process;
  • adding or deleting users or teachers;
  • approving or disapproving classes.

Plus, unlike freelance platforms, managed marketplaces tend to hire in-house experts to teach on their e-Learning websites. Another option is to collaborate with the best professionals in the field. For example, The Skills platform partners with the world’s top athletes like Michael Phelps, Larry Fitzgerald, and Megan Rapinoe to conduct online training classes.

Examples: Wyzant, Preply, Skooli, Tutorme, BudySchool, TutorHub, Chegg.

Q&A Student Marketplaces

Studypool Home Page

Studypool Home Page

There is also a subtype of an online learning marketplace called an online tutor marketplace, or Q&A student marketplace. This is a type of online learning marketplace where students or pupils can ask a question on a subject and get an answer from a teacher.  

How does an online tutor marketplace work?

Basically, a user chooses a subject, asks a question, and provides any necessary details. There are also some fields that a user must fill in, like when the user would like to receive an answer. 

Then, a user chooses the type of teacher they would like to answer the question. Obviously, the price varies depending on the type of tutor: high school, college, master’s, or Ph.D. The prices are set hourly. 

Moreover, a user needs to estimate the number of hours a tutor is likely to spend on an answer. After posting a question, a user gets tutor bids. Then, a user chooses a teacher most suitable to answer the question and pays.

Examples: Studypool, VIPKid.

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5 E-Learning Website Development Tips

To make sure that you follow the best practices for your e-Learning web development, we have compiled a list of tips to help you. Let’s discuss them in detail.

E-Learning Website Development Tips

Determine Your Target Audience

Analyzing and targeting your audience helps you reach the correct people who will relate most to your e-Learning products. To identify this group of ideal customers, you should collect information about the following:

  • Geography (worldwide or local e-Learning business);
  • End-users (higher education, corporate and professional courses, schools, or K-12);
  • Age (children aged 10-14, adults aged 20-30, etc.);
  • Learning environment (hybrid or fully online courses);
  • Income.

Also, it is essential to answer the questions:

  • What features and functionality will help users gain a deeper understanding of topics, engage, and direct their learning?
  • What are people’s interests, goals, and habits in learning?
  • What online teaching strategies and practices to implement?

Based on this data, you can create strategic timelines, and a product roadmap based on your requirements and needs, as well as develop an effective targeted marketing strategy.

Partner with Reputable Tutors

Once you have identified your target audience and their demographics, it’s time to focus on content development.

Well-structured lessons are critical to the success of any online course. At the same time, it’s the biggest challenge e-Learning platform creators face.

To create a course, you need to hire tutors and teachers who are top experts in their field. In partnership with them, it is required to:

  • Plan ahead;
  • Compile information on topics;
  • Layout topics into sections, modules, and lessons;
  • Add video, audio, animations, quizzes, and assignments;
  • Develop content, based on learning styles, e.g., videos, diagrams, and colored text – for visual learners. Podcasts – for auditory learners.
  • Include webinars and live support sessions as part of the class to bring more energy to online learning.

Optimize Website Performance

E-Learning websites are content-heavy and carry course data, videos, corresponding images, and other elements.

In turn, page weight may impact the load time, which is one of the website health indicators, along with visual stability and interactivity.

In addition, 47% of visitors want a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. Website responsiveness to user requests and load time directly impacts customer loyalty, attracts them, or turns them away. Plus, Google considers load time when ranking sites.

To ensure smooth performance, you need to:

  • Optimize the database;
  • Adjust website images;
  • Remove redundant data like code comments, white space characters, or unused code files from your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that are not required to load.

Make Sure Your UI/UX Design is User-Friendly

When it comes to design, clarity, and simplicity are two major aspects.

Sure, it’s good to be creative. However, minimalism in UI design has more benefits that appeal to users. Easier content processing in the brain while simpler navigation without unnecessary elements on the screen doesn’t distract from learning.

Besides, the more complex the UI design is, the more difficult it will be for programmers to implement. A minimalistic theme with easily-accessible interface elements is among the latest UI/UX design trends, so make it simpler.

Stay on Top of Trends

Trends in e-learning are always evolving. As more people in the global economy become interested in online education and e-Learning trends, we’ll look at what to expect from the industry:

  • Gamification and game-based learning. Games add energy and entertainment to the learning process helping engage students. To motivate students and track their progress, it is good to design, and then assign badges or score points for achievements and learning efforts. Learners will also appreciate participating in quizzes and receiving prizes. Besides, it will increase the retention rate for e-Learning providers.
  • Microlearning. This strategy is about breaking up large chunks of information into smaller, more manageable, relevant pieces.
  • Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality. Algorithms assist in developing content that meets the needs of diverse learners. These technologies help create rich interactive experiences and present difficult concepts by combining real and virtual worlds, realistic 3D models in immersive environments, and more.
  • E-Learning apps. Apps store their data locally on mobile devices, while websites use web servers. Students like them for the convenience of learning anywhere and anytime, without dependence on the Internet. Based on Statista.com, educational apps are the third most popular app category after games and business in the Apple App Store.

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10 Core Features Every E-Learning Website Needs

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform

1) Login 

In fact, the process we call registration implies features including:

  • The registration itself

The registration process should be quick and simple. It’s not a feature that users like to spend time on. A complicated registration process might increase the user’s leakage. Despite this, introducing a double opt-in registration and asking users for an email confirmation is still highly recommended. 

Skooli Registration Page

Skooli Registration Page

  • Authentication

As mentioned above, to keep users on the platform, the process of creating an account has to be very simple. And authentication makes the registration process as easy as it gets.

Just allow your users to register by using Google, Facebook, or even Apple. 

Note: If your online learning platform offers tutoring lessons to minor children, within the registration process, it’s advisable to ask for:

  • address
  • country
  • city
  • zip code
  • school
  • grade level
  • birthday.

This is done to avoid any gaps in who is paying. And overall, to take extra precautions.

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - authentification

Wyzant Account Creation Page

  • Sign In

The sign-in feature should have a simple form with an email address and password. In addition, your online learning platform can offer sign-in through social networks.

TutorMe Sign-in Page

TutorMe Sign-in Page

  • Password Recovery

In case a user has forgotten their password, send your user an email with a recovery password link.

Warning: The real concern for your platform should be restricting access to different user roles: users, tutors, and admins. To restrict access to different user types, our company usually implements a policy system that authorizes access to parts of a project. 

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - password recovery

Wyzant Sign-in Page

2) User Profile

The user profile doesn’t have to be complicated or too detailed. It needs to contain the general information extracted from the registration process.

Tip: Don’t force users to register right away. Usually, the registration process comes before sending a request to the tutor.

For tutors: the tutor registration involves more steps:

Step 1: include basic information. 

Step 2: describe their educational background. Additionally, the subjects that they are going to teach. Plus, a few words about their experience and expertise to attract more users.

Step 3: pass ID verification. Firstly, a tutor uploads photos of the ID document. Secondly, states the country. Thirdly, indicates the type of their ID document, and the document number.

Tutors and users should always be able to update their profile information.

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - user profile

Wyzant Welcome Page

3) Search

Users should be able to search either by keyword or by subject. 

Some online learning marketplaces, like Wyzant or Preply, try to find the best tutor right away by suggesting the user take a questionnaire. A questionnaire can include questions like the following:

  • Time zone
  • Level of user’s education
  • Availability for lessons
  • The urgency of the lesson
  • Teacher’s title
  • Teacher’s short description

The search page should also contain filters and a sorting system. But this is not always the case.

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - search

Skooli Search Page

Filtering

The users should be able to filter teachers by:

  • Hourly rates
  • Availability
  • Tutor age
  • Gender
  • Student’s level
  • Tags
  • Upcoming dates
  • Price range

The search page should also show the number of teachers chosen according to user preferences. 

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - filtering

Wyzant Filters

Sorting

Basically, a user should have the ability to sort by:

  • Best match
  • Lowest/highest price
  • Rating
  • Event time
Preply Sorting

Preply Sorting

4) Booking

Surely, not every type of online learning platform has to have a booking feature. This feature is more typical for online learning marketplaces for booking lessons with teachers. 

After a user books a lesson with the teacher, the teacher receives an email with the user’s request and additional information. Typically, a teacher confirms the class, and the student receives an email with payment instructions. After processing the payment, the student receives a link for the upcoming class.

Preply Booking Page

Preply Booking Page

5) Tutor Page

A tutor page is a page that converts users into clients and convinces them to book a course with a teacher.   

A tutor page should always have a tutor’s photo, name, the subjects a tutor gives lessons on, rating, and hourly rate. That’s the primary information that is going to make the initial impression. And obviously, the page should have a ‘contact a tutor’ button. 

After scrolling through the tutor page, a user should be able to find the information on:

  • The number of hours the tutor has spent teaching on the platform;
  • The tutor’s education;
  • Cancellation history;
  • Examples of the tutor’s expertise (answers to user subject questions);
  • Reviews.

If a tutor has a lot of reviews, you can add a review search by tags or keywords.

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - tutor page

Skooli Tutor Page

6) Payment

After a teacher has accepted an invitation for a video lesson, the user sends the payment. The scheduled lesson appears on the user’s dashboard as soon as the payment is received.

Regarding sending funds to tutors, different educational platforms use different approaches. For example, with Wyzant, payments are carried out twice a month. However, with Skooli, the platform pays tutors only after they earn $100.

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - payment

Preply Payment Page

7) Video Call

Besides messaging, there is another very important way of communication between users and teachers. That is video communication. If you are planning to create an e-Learning website, your marketplace should have a video feature introduced either by Zoom or Twilio.

File sharing, lesson recording, and screen sharing should be available for both sides during a video call.

8) Dashboard

The dashboard is designed both for users’ and tutors’ convenience. It helps track the student’s progress and view the number of lessons taken. The dashboard enables tutors to view booked lessons, withdraw funds they have earned, and access video lessons.

10 Core Features for Every Online Learning Platform - dashboard

Wyzant Question Page

9) Feedback and Rating

Feedback and ratings are, in fact, what makes your platform look trustworthy. So it is worth including ratings and feedback sections on a tutor page, on your home page, and some even include reviews on the payment page.

Preply Reviews Page

Preply Reviews Page

10) Admin Panel

Every online learning platform should have an admin panel — whether a local or a global marketplace. Features like adding, editing, or deleting your marketplace users and tutors should be accessible to any admin. In addition, an admin should be able to add, edit, delete, approve, and reject classes.

Additional Features for E-Learning Website to Succeed

Once key features are identified, adding extra functionality to the list can help make a more valuable product and attract potential users’ attention.

Gamification

In e-Learning, gamification is becoming a hot trend in a lot of industries, including e-Learning. Gamification elements can be added to the e-Learning platform to boost users’ motivation to learn.  

There are a few ways to introduce game elements into your platform:

  • Points: you can give users levels or scores to show how well a student knows a certain topic.
  • Bonuses: you can make points that can be given after each finished course or task. These points can then be exchanged for a free lesson or a subscription upgrade.
  • Leaderboard: allow students to view each other’s scores to give learning a competitive edge. To top it off, create a list of the top 10 users in a specific learning category. This way, students can view their friends’ scores and compete for first place.
  • Quizzes: users answer questions from different categories to earn points or coins and exchange them for prizes.
  • Award badges: students earn digital badges for successfully completing course assignments or tests and for persistent class attendance.
  • Classroom avatars: learners design characters or their alter-egos that they can personalize and build upon. Then, they can unlock modifications by fulfilling tasks or developing different custom projects.

Note: Typically, gamification elements are used in mobile applications or on language platforms like Duolingo and NaNoWriMo. 

Sloboda Studio has recently upgraded the Fortune Wheel HR platform with modes for fun and work. As a result, performing entertaining tasks increased productivity and created a better workflow.

How to Create an E-Learning Website - gamification

Udemy Course Content Page

Localization

When you decide to create an e-Learning website and would like to make it possible to use, you have to consider the localization of the platform. Not everyone from your target audience likely speaks the same language. Thus, creating a website for tutoring with a multilingual approach can be your one-way ticket to a broader audience.

How to Create an E-Learning Website - localization

Udemy Language Page

Q&A Session

A Q&A session is a live stream of users’ questions and answers, sometimes accompanied by platform admins. 

A Q&A is another excellent way to get users’ feedback or see if there are any troubles that users are having with your platform. In addition, users can share their concerns and chat with other people. Udemy uses Q&A sessions for boosting discussions and developing forums. This is done by notifying and inviting users to an upcoming stream, where they can get intel about certain courses, and learn whether they were useful or not.

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How to Monetize E-Learning Websites

How to Monetize E-Learning Websites

Subscription Model

The subscription monetization model is typically used by online course platforms like Udemy or Coursera. Users buy a monthly or yearly subscription to access courses they like. 

One example of an online course platform is SkillShare. It offers a monthly subscription with a 14-week trial of $15 and a yearly plan of $8.25/month.

How to Monetize E-Learning Websites - subscription model

Skill Share Home Page

Not only online courses use this monetization model. Even though Chegg is an online learning platform, it still charges subscription fees. There is a subscription plan on Chegg Study.

Chegg Home Page

Chegg Home Page

Examples: SkillShare, Chegg, Scooli.

Freemium Model

The freemium model is a monetization model where users can access certain features for free. But after upgrading their plan to a premium subscription, users can have access to a broader set of courses and features. 

Coursera, for example, has free and premium plans on its online course platform. Premium allows users to get a certificate after finishing the courses or have their assignments checked and graded. 

Examples: Coursera, Udemy, Edmodo.

How to Monetize E-Learning Websites - freemium model

Coursera Home Page

This model implies users pay for courses hourly or by the minute. 

Each teacher specifies their hourly rate. There are no risks involved whatsoever. To gain trust and market your platform, you can always offer a free lesson to newcomers. Preply, for instance, pays for the first lesson in case a user is not satisfied. 

Examples: Coursera, Udemy, Preply, Wyzant, TutourHub.

Preply Home Page

Preply Home Page

Commission Model

The commission model is a revenue model where a service provider is charged a fee with every payment transaction. Usually, the commission model is applicable to online learning marketplaces where a tutor pays a fee for every service they provide.

Examples: Teachers Pay Teachers, Udemy, SkillWise.

How to Monetize E-Learning Websites - commission model

SkillWise Home Page

How We Can Help: Ways to Build an e-Learning Website

To cope with high loads of users, you need to have steady and reliable e-Learning software so it won’t crash at the first opportunity. In this respect, custom e-Learning software development will give you the reassurance you need.

Building an e-Learning website from scratch enables you to create literally whatever you want with any features you can imagine. This is an especially alluring advantage for innovative web products.

When the budget is limited, a cheaper option for businesses is choosing Sloboda Studio’s white-label solution. It is a ready product that companies can purchase, customize and then rebrand as their own.

In this case, business owners get a fully-tested e-Learning platform with all core features, including:

  • Registration;
  • 3-step profile creation;
  • Zoom integration;
  • Video courses upload;
  • Stripe Connect integration;
  • Listings & Tutors’ Pages;
  • Admin panel, and more.

There is no need to hire developers or have tech expertise. Instead, companies can launch their product much faster and at a lower price.

Our experience building e-Learning platforms proves that both choosing custom development or white-label solutions are worthy scenarios educational businesses or startups need to consider.

Here is one of the e-Learning projects that the Sloboda Studio team has worked on.

The Skills

Educational platform, The Skills, produces and distributes online lessons and courses from the world’s top athletes like Michael Phelps, Maria Sharapova, and Shaun White, collecting payments from end-users for a subscription.

The Skills Home Page

The Skills Home Page

The client wanted to expand their product with new functionality, such as:

  • intelligent automation for administrators and customers;
  • dashboard creation with custom features;
  • сlient-side creation with modern tech stack and custom functionality;
  • extensive payment integration;
  • manual web and mobile app testing.

As a result, the Sloboda Studio team of web, mobile, and QA experts enrich the Skills platform functionality. Also, we developed and launched a mobile app.

As of October 2020, our client raised $4,9 million and continues to grow.

Wrapping It Up

More students and teachers are shifting online. That’s why entrepreneurs see a very lucrative time to get into this industry with its online platform.

And this is quite understandable, given the e-Learning market’s rapid growth. However, choosing how to create an e-Learning website of your own is one of the top decisions to make.

To start an e-Learning business, you need to know the following:

  • types of e-Learning platforms;
  • most commonly used features;
  • monetization models;
  • current trends and practices;
  • ways of building an e-Learning website.

Once you decide to build an e-Learning platform, you can reach out to our engineering team and ask for a free custom project estimate.

If you have a limited budget, we advise using our ready-made solution for an e-Learning website. This way, you’ll save 2x the cost on the web development process and will be able to customize the e-Learning website according to your target audience’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create an e-Learning site like Udemy?

First, conduct the discovery. Then, make a detailed description of what features you want to implement.

When building an e-Learning website, it is better to partner with a reliable vendor, usually listed on reputable platforms like Clutch. Sloboda Studio, a TOP 40 Custom Development Company, can help develop an MVP to validate your idea and launch your website faster.

Alternatively, we also have a ready-made solution for an e-learning platform that you can buy, scale and customize. Book a free consultation with us.

What should an e-Learning website have?

A well-designed eLearning website should have a clean, simple, intuitive interface. It should also have clear navigation that makes it easy for learners to find what they need. The content should be interactive, well-organized, and easy to understand. Also, it is required to add functionality that tracks and analyzes learners’ performance.

An e-Learning website should have a variety of techniques to keep learners engaged and interested in the content.

How do you make an e-Learning app?

The app development starts with the discovery phase to gather information about the project and identify functional and non-functional requirements. The design and development phases come next. Designers use wireframes to blueprint what they will create, and developers write code and test the app’s functionality. They also ensure that it is compatible with all devices and operating systems. Finally, it’s time to launch the application.

Is e-Learning a profitable business?

Yes. Companies like Coursera and Udemy make millions of dollars from their online courses. For example, Coursera’s revenue grew 41% year-over-year to $415 million in 2021. In 2021, Udemy earned $518.2 million in revenues, up 81% yearly.

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