LearnDash Vs LifterLMS Comparison 2018

Updated: September 3, 2018
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Both are very solid learning management system plugins for WordPress and are clearly the top 2 learning management systems for WordPress. There used to be many differences between the 2, but in 2017 they caught up to each other. They now both have course builders to make it easy to setup and manage large courses. LifterLMS has unique page builder integrations for Beaver Builder and Divi. As far as pricing goes, I think the price of LearnDash is more realistic, where LifterLMS has seriously inflated prices. I will say though that with LifterLMS all you really need to purchase is a payment gateway for $99. I have their entire bundle and only use the Paypal gateway. Both are great options, I think for scalability you should consider LearnDash, and if you are just starting out consider LifterLMS.

LearnDash Logo
LifterLMS Logo
LearnDash Website

Cost: $159 - $189 /per year



LifterLMS Website

Cost: Free to $599 /per year



LearnDash Overview

LearnDash is the leading learning management system for WordPress. It allows you to facilitate selling and managing online courses on a self-hosted platform that you own & control.

LifterLMS Overview

LifterLMS is a free learning management system for WordPress. They also have paid extensions available to fund the development of the core plugin. It is also the LMS that I use on this website.

LearnDash Key Features

  • Sell Your Courses
  • Drip-Feed Content
  • Engagement Triggers
  • Innovative Video Progression
  • WooCommerce Integration
  • Advanced Quizzes

LifterLMS Key Features

  • Core Plugin Is Free
  • Beaver Builder & Divi Integration
  • Drag / Drop Course Builder
  • WooCommerce Integration

LearnDash Things To Consider

LearnDash is not an all in one solution in the sense that you may need to also have a shopping cart and a membership plugin. So it is more designed to work with your existing infrastructure.

Yes, you can sell courses in a basic way without a shopping cart, but its doesn't have all the bells and whistles you may want, like coupons, product bundles, etc. It's not so bad since it is very easy to add WooCommerce.

LearnDash is not a membership plugin. So if you want to protect content outside of the lessons themselves, you will need to also add a membership plugin such has MemberPress or Restrict Content Pro.

LifterLMS Things To Consider

The core plugin is free, but doesn't come with a payment gateway. You will have to purchase the gateway you want, currently, Authorize.net, PayPal, Stripe, and WooCommerce are available for $99 each.

Customizing colors requires custom CSS, but I find it fairly easy to do.

LearnDash Coupon / Discount

There are currently no active LearnDash Coupon or LearnDash Discounts available. I do have a special promotion when you purchase LearnDash through the link on this website. For more information on that, you can click on the button on this page.

LifterLMS Coupon / Discount

There are currently no active LifterLMS Coupon or LifterLMS Discounts available. However, if you do purchase LifterLMS through the link on this website, I will give you access to one of my premium training course which normally sells for $49.

LearnDash Review Summary

LearnDash has a lot of things going for it. They say the cream rises to the top, well LearnDash has clearly become the market leader for WordPress Learning Management Systems.

When you pair LearnDash with the Astra Theme, you can have a beautiful online course website with very minimal effort.

I expect to see LearnDash continue to add innovative features to stay one step ahead of competing products.

LifterLMS Review Summary

LifterLMS is great. The one thing that I think is insane is their pricing model. Yes I am complaining about pricing.

Truth be told, all you really need to buy is 1 payment gateway. The rest is completely optional.

But man, the price of their bundles. I just want to know what they are smoking to come up with this stuff. I think their community and user base would grow so much faster if they had realistic pricing.

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Review Transparency & Ethics
These reviews & comparisons are my opinions based on my usage and testing. Although I have been solicited for paid reviews, I want to make it clear that I have always declined! I have never been paid to write or record any reviews, EVER! For more information on my review process, visit my Transparency Report linked above.

59 thoughts on “LearnDash Vs LifterLMS”

  1. Hi Adam,
    Do you know if i can embed Adobe Captivate media into one of these LMS software or any other?
    Thanks and best regards

  2. Hi Adam, I know that both plugins let users mark lessons as complete. Do they also allow a lesson to be automatically marked as complete once the student finishes it?

  3. 1. Which LMS supports math equations for quizzes/ assignments etc?
    2. Also can “Latex” be integrated for writing math quizzes?

  4. LifterLMS has another thing going against it besides the price. Stability. My experience is that almost every version introduced some weird bug. And this didn’t give me the confidence to use it on a site that I dependent on to generate some revenue in order to feed my children. Admittedly this was a year ago, and I have no idea if LifterLMS has improved the stability.

    Learndash is great, but has one thing going against it; not adhering to the WP coding standards, for a variety of reasons. But even when I say this, I’d still recommend it over LifterLMS if you are looking to launch an online course.

    But, and this is an important one…

    The unknown kid on the block. Mainly caused by a lack of “good marketing”. Namaste Pro. Free on the WP repository and the Pro version is peanuts compaired to the other options available.

    Templating is a breeze. Similar to templating for WooCommerce. Copy a page template, rename it, change the stuff you need and your done.

    I invite you (Adam) to give it a try, and would love to read your review on Namaste.


    1. The only real issue I see with Namaste is they have a weak business model around it, almost like it is just a random side project versus a serious thing. This is most likely why there are very few people using it, 1k active installations in 5+ years of being available.

      For me, for plugins that are easy to swap out later, I could care less if there is a business model around it. For example form plugins, there is no real tie in for that. But for something as important as your LMS it’s quite important because later on its going to be very hard to migrate to a different system.

      Yes, LifterLMS has some major code overhauls which, if you were updating, were painful. I saw this mostly with there recent Quiz overhaul.

      Also, LearnDash has been steadily improving their codebase to fix their mistakes.

      Unfortunately LMS’s are always going to be a niche product.

  5. The more I compare LearnDash and LifterLMS, the more I like LearnDash simply because it has so many more advanced capabilities – and they even come at a lower cost. And they have an ecosystem of 3rd parties adding to LearnDash’s capabilities.


    LearnDash lessons, quizzes, pages can be styled using DIVI Builder. This allows you to have custom and beautifully designed lesson pages. This is a big deal.

    Can LearnDash and LifterLMS be styled using Elementor? If not, this is a strong argument for using DIVI when using LearnDash.


    LifterLMS has Private Areas for $199 for one site, $599 for 5 sites. But this is an incomplete solution. It uses custom post pages where the teacher and student communicate via the Word Press comment system. But neither the teacher nor student are notified when there are new comments. Imagine having to manually look at all your private posts every day for new comments from your students if you have 1000 private posts. And you cannot do Private Lessons for Groups of students.

    LearnDash has two options for doing Private Lessons and Tutoring:

    1. FREE ADD-ON: A Private Forum using BBPress can be associated with each course. All students can participate in a private group discussion.

    2. PRIVATE SESSIONS ADD-ON from Snaporbital.com for $49 single site, $69 for unlimited sites. This is what LifterLMs Private Areas should have been.

  6. Hi Adam, I know you can make email engagements with LifterLMS, but can you also just sent out a broadcast email to all students in a specific course. I read thought their documentation but I can’t find a way to send out a ad-hoc e-mail to all students on a course. Do I need the MailChimp add-on for that? Also can you send out ad-hoc e-mail to all students with LearnDash?

    1. Hey Nick, this is one of the things you can’t do. I will reach out to them on it because I really want this too. It just makes sense. Right now you would need them all organized in a segment with your email provider. I don’t think LearnDash has this either which I also find odd.

      1. In LearnDash, the free integration with Memberpress allows Memberpress to handle subscriptions to courses and can send emails to the students of specific courses. The free integration with BBPress allows students of a course to automatically be subscribed to a private BBPress forum associated with that course. If students subscribe to forum topics – such as a teacher messages topic, then they could receive notifications via a BBPress extension.

  7. Jacinthe Boislard

    Thank you very much for your clear analysis of LMS.

    I understand that an LMS is used to sell training programs. In a program, many people have access to the same lessons.

    I wonder if an LMS can be used otherwise. Can it sell videos to the unit so that each customer can build his personal library of training videos?

    Here is the project:
    My client wants to sell 80 videos per unit (2 to 10 minutes), where she shows stuff to horse owners. A video = a course (without evaluation, diploma …).
    So 80 videos = 80 different courses. It aims to sell 200 differents videos within 3 years.
    Videos will be hosted externally on Vimeo privately.
    The videos will not be sold for download. A customer should rather be connected to his customer account to be able to view them. So, each buyer must have his personal space to find his purchased videos, on one or more occasions, and be able to watch them online as many times as he wants.

    An LMS seems perfect for online listening, externally hosted videos and video protection.
    But can an LMS be used to sell in single lessons? Can he assure me that a connected customer will be able to watch only the videos he has paid?

    Thank you very much for your invaluable help.

    1. Hmm I am not sure the status of the translations for either. It’s public info though and you can ask either. I do have a video on translations, so even if Hebrew is not 100% translated, there is a way to contribute a translation.

      1. Hi Adam, I am a newbie here on WPCrafter from Belgium. Thank you for your great site and videos ! You mentioned a video about translation… How i can find it ? Because the LifterLMS translation in french is very bad.. something else, I see you have a pretty cool social media registration plugin on your site… Which is it ?

        1. Did you search my website? There is a search icon in the header and it’s really easy to find any of my videos based on keywords.

          The social media registration is actually from my comment plugin named Thrive Comments. I like that feature because it makes it a lot easier to leave a comment.

      1. Well, I guess that I need to look some more at both of their features today in an attempt to make a decision. But exactly why do you prefer LifterLMS? Is it superior on all fronts to LearnDash? Is there any reason why I would want one over the other? I do want to hopefully use authoring tools to do extra stuff with content that I put in.

        1. Mike Costantini

          From talking with Adam in the recent past, he was big on Lifter up until fairly recently and I think he’s having another look at LearnDash since they introduced a drag n drop style course builder. I’d like to see a detailed side by side feature comparison but right now I think I’m leaning toward LearnDash for my LMS.

    1. Yes, you can have more than 1 instructor. Keep in mind it’s not a course selling marketplace where you let others sell courses on your website and you split the revenue.

        1. There are but they are not that reliable. I think if people want to create a Udemy with WordPress, it’s not a simple thing and may be better off with custom coding a solution.

  8. Hi Adam,
    Briefly, I do tutorials and for my school want to offer online quiz taking to offset some of the workload of manually grading math tests (~1,000 x 40 problems each week). I do not need a payment gateway for my tutorials. I have WP Courseware and LearnDashPro plugins. I am thinking to build a website with Elementor and then use a LMS plugin, maybe even LifterLMS. Do you have any advice on how to proceed?

    1. Well, it sounds like you already have purchased 2 different LMS systems and are considering a 3rd. You really just need to choose the one that best fits the quiz type that you need. My personal preference is LifterLMS and I know they are working on some amazing new quiz features that they are launching here very soon.

      1. For quizzes I highly recommend you check out the (free) plugin h5p.org. I love how easy it is and how much you can do to help people with interactive exercises. It’s not a plugin to build courses, though, but you can use it along with LearnDash.

        Thanks very much for this review and the amazing content you produce.

      1. PrettyLink Pro… Super Plugin, i see WP content section linking but not in the Beaver Content, is that an issue with the PageBuilder/s and PLP? Or do you have it turned off somehow?

        1. Yes you are right on that one. I have a love-hate relationship with PrettyLink Pro. It’s one of those plugins I don’t talk about much because, to me, the developer is not engaged with it. There are issues with page builders that they don’t seem interested in addressing.

  9. Hi Adam
    I need an LMS which I can add new companies into so their managers can add and manage staff. I basically sell an open platform of hospitality courses on a monthly payment basis. National Hospitality Academy and I currently use Moodle.
    Do you think using LearnDash with the multi-platform facility would do the job?


    Mark Bowden

    1. Hey Vicky, yes they released a new course builder 2 weeks ago. Most of my complaints with them has always been around how tedious it is to build out a course. I did take a quick look at it on a test install and will have a review out in December on it. For my personal needs, and my workflow, I will be sticking with LifterLMS because I use their voucher system for everything. Also, LifterLMS has integration with Beaver Builder, which I really like.

  10. preston buckner

    Which one is better if you offer courses to your employees for free and do not need a payment gateway. Also have you ever heard of wpep if so how would you rate it.

  11. The pricing model is the big thing that keeps me from jumping in with Lifter. We use ActiveCampaign for email marketing and we would need a payment gateway, at the very least. If you want to use AffiliateWP, add the cost of *that* extension plus the cost of the plugin. Then add any other WordPress plugins one might need or want to integrate, and one begins to see some of the value of the standalone LMS services. All the more so if one thinks customizability and maintenance would be easier for them with the latter.

    Ugh! Decisions, decisions.

    1. Hey Dan, I do need to update this comparison because 1 week ago LearnDash released a course builder that addressed many of the things I didn’t like about it. And I am with you on the cost of LifterLMS. It does still fit better with what I am doing, so I won’t be switching, but it’s a tough choice.

  12. Oops! You can delete my comment, please. You said “insane pricing model”, but you did say it was free. I actually have to agree with you there!

    1. Yea you will have to 100% purchase a payment extension from LifterLMS to be able to sell courses and memberships. When you look at the cost of their extensions, they are astronomical. That being said, I am using LifterLMS on this website for all of my courses, and I only really use the PayPal extension, however I will be adding the Stripe one next year to offer more payment options.

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