Developers November 24, 2020

eLearning: Custom built site v LMS

Tom Cashman @tomnuevo

hi all. I'm the founder of an elearning business that runs on a custom built website. It's clear after 4 years that we need a better UI/UX and we are looking at combining a front end built in Webflow with a 3rd party LMS (learning management system).

The problem is that even the most feature-rich LMSs lack the depth of our current customised assessment and testing engine, which is a must-have feature for our students.

One idea that occurred to me was connecting Webflow + LMS + somehow connecting our assessment engine (via APIs perhaps?). As a non-technical founder, my question is: is that kind of integration commonplace? Is it likely to be especially challenging?

Thanks in advance!

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    Great question @tomnuevo. At Startup Sanctuary we use Webflow + Thinkific.

    If you feel Thinkific is too basic, you have a couple of options.

    If, like you say, you are looking for more advanced testing facilities, AND, you are non-technical, you might be better to try have someone build out something custom for you.

    For us, bolting on an LMS like Thinkific to Webflow is a 'decent' medium term solution, but not a long term one. If you are going to try Webflow + LMS + somehow connecting assessment engine via APIs, I would also see this as a more short to medium term solution.

    Again, it depends on your situation and budget etc... but if you have complex testing requirements, something custom could be your best option.

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      Thanks Gordon!

      The reason we are drawn to the idea of connecting Webflow front-end to an LMS, is:

      1. we would have more control over marketing, design and copy in the front end (we currently have a static front-end - if we need changes we need to ask our developers)

      2. existing LMSs have a whole range of attractive features we'd like to tap into e.g. detailed student analytics, automation features, attractive UI/UX etc. To get anywhere close to the LMSs with our own website would likely take years and we feel we're just "reinventing the wheel". Why spending years building our own version if it already exists, right?

      The one thing the 3rd party LMSs lack is our testing functionality.

      Why do you think in your own case that Webflow + Thinkific is a short/medium-term solution?

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    Disclaimer: I am the founder of a customizable LMS platform primarily catered towards complex cases where run of the mill LMS won't cut it.

    It is true that most LMSs wouldn't match your existing customized assessment and testing engine since it is "customized" and very unique to your needs. You can certainly use integrations to connect the LMS with your testing engine as one option but you need to have robust APIs to be able to do that ideally. Integrations pose their own challenge as you now to have worry about multiple systems. Also, data syncing could be an issue between the connected components.

    Webflow, I wouldn't comment until I understand what you frontend needs are. Do you want to build a complex Marketing website/Landing page with tons of features like SEO, analytics etc ? What about E-Commerce component ?

    Since you have been doing it for 4+ years, you already know how much work it is to try and do all of this yourself :). You definitely need a good partner/advisor ideally Feel free to reach out to me directly if you want to chat.

    1. 2

      Thanks for the insights!

    2. 1

      Just sent you a LinkedIn invitation to connect.

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    Any specific LMS you had in mind? Does it have to be something school districts are familiar with? Or your solution is B2C?

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      the business is B2C (the students are working professionals). Mainstream LMSs like Teachable and Thinkific are likely too basic. Our courses incorporate more advanced testing facilities than they can provide.

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        Oh, I see. I have not seen many integrations where the whole assessment part is an external module. Find somebody to look deeper into APIs provided by candidate CMS, I'm afraid they will be too limiting to support everything you need.

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