If you want to start an e-Learning website, there can’t be a better platform than the combination of WordPress and the LearnDash LMS plugin.
However, even with LearnDash you need to take care of the various elements that you include and do not include in your site.
There are some elements that must not be missing from any e-Learning website. And if they are then you may not be getting the most out of your site.
Which are those elements? Well, that’s precisely what we’re going to tell you here. Let’s get started!
1. Breadcrumb Navigation
If your e-Learning website is your first site, there’s a good chance that you might not have heard yet about breadcrumb navigation.
Essentially, breadcrumb navigation shows the user the path where they are on your website.
For example, if someone is viewing any specific page of a particular category on your site. The breadcrumb on that page will show something like this:
Home > Category > Page title
It’s possible that you might have seen it on other websites, but don’t know it by its name. Here’s an image showing breadcrumb navigation on a webpage
There are many benefits of using breadcrumbs in your e-Learning site. First of all, they help your visitors navigate across the site easily.
For instance, if they land on any of the course pages on your site, they can easily browse more courses related to that category by clicking on the category name in the breadcrumb. Second, they’re loved by Google. Google crawlers and other search engine bots can easily figure out how your site is structured in more detail.
Moreover, sometimes they’re also included in the search results, thus making your site rank better on the search result pages. Now obviously, when you’re better placed on the SERPS, you’re more likely to be clicked and read!
2. Easy Demo Import
The demo-import functionality allows you to start your site in a quick manner by importing the content of a demo site. This means you don’t need to figure out what goes where and how to set up pages.
In case you don’t know about demo sites, here’s a brief intro: these sites are set up by theme and plugin developers to show you what the experience of theme/plugin will look like once set up properly. Look at LearnDash demo site for example.
Now coming back to the main point – when demo content of a theme is there in your WordPress dashboard, you can easily replace it with your own content and go live with your e-Learning website within a day (if your content is prepared already).
So while choosing your theme, you should ensure that this functionality is present in it so it becomes a part of your site.
3. Child Theme Support
Imagine a scenario where you’re already running a successful e-Learning website. You’d also want to modify the styling and design of your site to make it look better, fresh and unique from your competition.
But, you don’t want to change the theme of your site completely because of its robustly optimized code and features – you want some modifications in design only. How can you achieve that without wasting a lot of time and energy?
Well, the answer to that lies in Child Theme Support. In case you don’t know, a Child theme is a theme that inherits the code and functionality of another theme, but you modify its design to give it a fresh look.
That way the core functionality of theme remains as robust as the Parent Theme, while its design becomes what you want it to be. In order to create a Child Theme easily, your site must include the support for its creation.
The good news is that the WordPress platform and LearnDash include that support, so you don’t need to worry about it if you’ve chosen them for your e-Learning site.
4. Simplified Mobile Navigation
The navigation of any site is like its backbone. If that part sucks, there’s no way your users can have a good experience. And since most of the users browse the web on mobile devices today, you should optimize the experience from a mobile-first perspective.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to design website navigation that works well on both mobiles as well as computers. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps outlined below:
- Keep it short and simple: First of all, don’t include a lot of items on the menu. Mobile screens are small in size, and you can fit a maximum of only 3-4 items in a line on those screen sizes.
If you include more than that, the menu will appear in multiple lines, which will not look good at all. Even if you need to include a lot of pages, try to organize them in 3-4 categories or sub-pages.
By organizing them in that manner you can use drop-down menus to show them correctly in mobile screens. You can also try showing 3 of your main menu options on the top with the help of icons and hiding the other menu items behind a hamburger menu, as shown in the image below:
- Include the most important pages first: While creating your menu, ensure that the most important pages appear first and the least important ones appear last. This order is especially important if you’re going to need some dropdown menus.
- Use easily understandable language: The items in your menu should be written with words that are a no-brainer. Everyone should know what to expect from a page from the menu item itself. Therefore, you should avoid words/terms that require thinking in order to be understood.
- Be careful about colors and fonts: The text of menu items should be written in a color that contrasts with the background color of menu. Also, the text should be written in a font that is easy to read and doesn’t require to be zoomed in.
- Include search bar: Your search bar is also a part of the navigation tools for your website. So include it in the right place, which is near the navigation bar. That will help people find pages that they can’t find through the main menu.
5. Customization and Branding
If you’ve not customized your e-Learning site to make it look different and professional, you’re making a very costly mistake without even knowing about it.
The style and branding of a site matter much more than any other factor in determining how it is perceived by its visitors, so you should get a professional logo designed for your website from an experienced brand identity designer.
Also, get your website designed in such a way that it matches perfectly with your brand identity. And don’t try to do it yourself – the biggest mistake that you can make is doing the branding of your e-Learning website on your own!
These things are better left to professionals who are experienced in them.
6. Clean Design and Layout
We talked about the design part of your site briefly in the previous section. But it’s worth elaborating a bit more on that, especially if you’re not getting a custom theme built for your site.
When you’re choosing a pre-designed theme to set up your e-Learning site, ensure that it has multiple layout options. Generally, Grid Layout works best for e-Learning sites because it helps in showing multiple courses on every page in a very neat and clean manner.
Here’s an example of what a site with LearnDash course grid layout looks like:
Grids also work best because in this layout the other elements of design are addressed before work is started on the grid structure. So whatever changes need to be done to the main design can be done later by any web designer without much effort.
Besides that, grid layouts also work more consistently across the site.
7. Page Preloaders
Finally, page preloaders are also important for your e-Learning site. Preloaders – or simply loaders, as they’re known – are tiny animations that load before anything else on your site and keep your visitors hooked until other elements of your site are loaded.
While they do not speed up the loading process of your site, they make users feel so; thus preventing them from hitting that dreaded ‘close tab’ button.
Preloaders are available in various styles, from simple animations to more complex ones. Adding a preloader to your site is simple, and any designer can do it with the help of a few CSS modifications.
However, if your e-Learning site is based on WordPress, then here’s a set of instructions you can follow to add a preloader to your site:
- First of all, install and activate WP Smart Preloader plugin on your site;
- Now visit Settings > WP Smart Preloader to configure your preloader animation;
- Now you need to select a few things. The first among them is the preloader style – there are a number of styles included in this plugin, and they can be chosen from the Select Preloader menu.
- After that, there’s the option of ‘Show only on homepage’. If you check its checkbox, your preloader will appear only when someone is opening the homepage of your site. If you leave it unchecked your preloader will appear on every page of your site.
- The next option is ‘Duration to show Loader’. This column allows you to select the time duration for which the loader keeps showing. The default value is 1500 milliseconds (about 1.5 seconds), which means that if you leave it blank the loader shows for 1.5 seconds before it starts fading out. You can also set the time it takes to fade out by entering a value in ‘Loader to Fade Out’ box.
Once you’ve configured all these settings, don’t forget to hit the Save Changes button. Now you can check how it’s working by loading your site on mobiles as well as computers.
Before we conclude, we want to give you a bonus tip: Pay special attention to the theme of your e-Learning website.
Without a proper theme, even if your site is having all of the above-given elements you may still not be able to tap its true potential. A good theme is one that includes or facilitates all of the above-given features. There are many such themes available in the market, including eLumine, whose examples we included above.
Now let’s wrap things up.
The 7 things mentioned above are essential to have in any modern e-Learning website. You can also do without them, but the user experience won’t be the best. So try to include all of them on your site, and share your experience after doing that in the comments section.
Also, if you know of any other elements that must be included in any e-Learning website then let us know. Your experience may be valuable to a lot of our readers and your fellow webmasters!