A learning management system (LMS) is a powerful tool to improve the delivery, management, and tracking of training materials and educational content for employees, partners, and customers. In this step-by-step article, we’ll look at the behind-the-scenes aspects and key components that contribute to building a robust LMS, including the costs and timeline for developing an LMS.

What is LMS development?

LMS development refers to creating and implementing a system that enables organizations, educational institutions, or businesses to deliver, track, and manage various online learning activities.

Types of learning management systems

There are different types of LMS platforms, each built on a different foundation, which will affect interoperability:

  • Open-source LMS: These systems allow users to access and modify the source code, providing a high degree of customization. Some examples of open-source LMS platforms are Moodle and Sakai.
    • Biggest benefit: cost-effective (free to use and modify, ideal for budget-conscious organizations)
  • Self-hosted LMS: This is a type of LMS where the organization or institution hosts the LMS software on its servers or infrastructure in-house rather than outsourcing to external hosting services or cloud-based providers. GyrusAim and Innform are self-hosted LMS platforms.
    • Biggest benefit: high customization (full control over the platform, perfect for tailoring the learning experience to specific needs)
  • Cloud-based LMS: This web-based platform enables organizations to deliver, manage, and track training and educational content over the Internet. It uses cloud infrastructure to host and maintain the system, allowing users to access the LMS remotely from any device with an internet connection. Skilljar is a great example of this.
    • Biggest benefit: scalability (easily scale your LMS up or down based on your needs, whether you have a small group or a large enterprise)

Phases of learning management system development

The phases of LMS software development include:

  • Analysis and discovery: Identify the reasons for developing an LMS. Is it to provide online courses to improve customer onboarding and retention, track employee training, or streamline the learning processes for some other audience? Determine who will use the LMS—customers, students, employees, partners, or all.
  • Planning: List the core features you need. These could be tools for creating courses, tracking progress, or managing user accounts. Then, set clear goals during planning. What do you want to achieve with the LMS—improved learning outcomes, efficient training processes, better customer retention, lower support costs, or something else?
  • UX design: Consider the layout of menus, buttons, and overall aesthetics. Your LMS should offer a smooth and intuitive user experience for both learners and administrators. The best-in-class systems allow you to match the look and feel of your education platform to the rest of your website, ensuring a seamless user experience.
  • Development: Once you’ve completed the design, incorporate tools that make course design and management simple. Consider features like multimedia, quizzes, and interactive elements. Plus, your system should simplify user account management, including registration, login, and tracking individual progress. One key feature to look for here is single sign-on (SSO) so that a user can access your system without having to log in to multiple places.
  • Deployment: When it comes to deployment, you can consider incremental deployment. This helps minimize disruption and allows for real-time issue identification and resolution. You don’t need to have your entire system up and running to release your LMS. It’s fine to start with one or two features or courses, and they roll out additional courses, role-based training through learning paths, certifications, and more later on.
  • Testing and feedback – Consider rolling out a “beta test” and inviting select users to try out your system and supply feedback on their experience. This will help identify bugs and better understand users’ needs before rolling out the full experience to a broader audience. 

How much does learning management system development cost? 

The cost of eLearning platform development can vary widely based on several factors. For example, custom solutions generally have higher development costs due to unique, custom-built features. In contrast, choosing an open-source LMS may have lower upfront costs since the software is free, but your options for customization and a dedicated support team are limited.

Another factor that affects the cost of LMSs is features and functionality. The development costs could be higher if your organization requires advanced LMS features, such as gamification, course authoring, social sharing, or mobile functionality.

A large organization with many users and complex learning scenarios may need a scalable and high-performance enterprise learning management system. Ensuring scalability and performance optimization will involve extra development costs upfront. Still, it will save you money down the road since the system is built to scale as your company grows. 

How long does it take to develop a learning management system?

The time it takes to build an LMS varies based on factors such as complexity, features, and customization. For an LMS with standard content management features delivered “out of the box”, the development process can take just a few months. 

Several factors can increase this timeline, including customization requirements such as tailored user interfaces and specific content delivery mechanisms. Plus, integration with other systems adds to development time due to its complexity and the need for seamless interoperability.

Skilljar’s learning management system software has customizable features

Skilljar is a cloud-based customer training LMS that companies can use to create and manage online training courses. Used by SaaS businesses and large enterprises, Skilljar helps improve customer training by managing online courses for onboarding and educating customers.

Skilljar is known for its customizable features, including extensive integrations, localization for different languages, learning paths, content formatting, data and reporting, and more. Plus, organizations can maintain a consistent brand identity by customizing the look of their training portal with Skilljar. This includes ready-to-use templates, dynamic theming controls, and advanced customization capabilities with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Get a Skilljar demo to see how Skilljar’s features allow you to deliver a smooth learning experience for your customers, partners, and employees.