WordPress has been used for possibly every website imaginable, and one of the types of sites that seems to be growing in popularity with WordPress is that of an LMS – a Learning Management System.
This is a site that can be used for a variety of purposes having to do with online education and training of all sorts, both for students as well as the teaching staff.
Both themes and plugins have been developed for this purpose, one of the latest of which is the Varsita theme from Themeum. Like quite a few other themes found on the ThemeForest marketplace, Varsita comes pre-packed with a few plugins, the main one being the Themeum LMS plugin.
Themeum LMS is a powerful extension that adds quite a lot of functionality to your site to be able to run it as an e-learning platform, catering for any number of courses, lessons, assignments, students and a lot more.
There are plenty of featured built into this LMS theme, but here’s a quick round-up of the main ones, and what they offer.
First of all, it’s a modern theme with at least five homepage variations to cater for different businesses and customer bases. It’s also responsive, making it possible for your students or employees to learn through the use of their smartphones or tablets.
As I already mentioned, Varsita comes with a few plugins included and supported by it, one of which is Revolution Slider, which is an all-purpose slider that can be used to display any type of content.
Another plugin included with the theme is Visual Composer, a drag-and-drop page builder plugin that allows you to take full control of how your WordPress site looks, without the need to learn any code.
It also supports plugins such as BuddyPress and WooCommerce, and provides a PayPal payment gateway to be able to handle payments. If you’re using this theme as a University website, for example, you can build an e-commerce store right there and then, within your main website.
Varsita LMS though is the main plugin that makes this theme what it is. It provides a powerful dashboard from where you can check useful stats such as total sales and orders, pending orders, courses, teachers and so on.
It was built to make the process of setting up and maintaining your LMS as easy as possible, and the way it’s set up will definitely help you do that. It’s quite easy to set up your online lessons, incorporating any form of content you can imagine and even having the option to make a lesson free or paid.
Teachers and student both have their own profiles where they can add their names, profile photos, assigned courses and much more. You can even add events, manage them, add speakers to them (who also have profiles) as well as include as many courses as you’d like, each with it’s own name, ID, pricing and so on.
Setting up your Varsita theme
When you install Varsita you are provided with a number of theme options that you can change to your liking, ranging from the header to a coming soon page.
You can access them all from the Varsita dashboard that’s found right within your WordPress dashboard. It’s all set up in a very intuitive way that any level of WordPress user will be able to modify the site to his or her liking using just a few clicks.
Taking a quick look through the options available here you’ll see the Header tab where you can modify the margins and choose between having a sticky header or not, as well as a Sub Header tab where you can change the blog banner and background colour for the blog subtitle.
Under Logo & Favicon you’ll find options to change just that – your site’s logo and favicon. Layout & Styling is then where you get multiple options to change the layout and colours throughout your site.
Typography is where you can change the font family, weight, style, alignment and more for the body, menus as well as headings. Blog on the other hand allows you to modify the way your blog looks and works – anything from enabling comments to changing the “Read more” text.
Next up are your Portfolio settings, followed by the possibility to enable a Coming Soon page similar to the one you can see in the screenshot above.
Finally, you have the Footer tab where to edit the footer text, CSS and more, and last but not least is the Import/Export tab where you can import and export your theme options settings from file, text or URL.
The Themeum LMS plugin is the main driving force being the Varsita theme.
From the Themeum LMS tab in the WordPress dashboard you’ll get access to all it offers – the ability to create courses, lessons and events, to create categories for each of these, and even to add teachers and speakers.
Below are some screenshots of what it’s like to add Courses, Lessons, Teachers, Events and Speakers. All have an intuitive UI that keeps with the WordPress dashboard’s look and feel, making it not only blend seamlessly into your backend, but also be an easy process to update and upkeep.
As can be seen, each of these has its own set of settings too. For each lesson you can upload any attachments and videos that might be required, giving you the freedom to provide students or employees with any content they might need.
You can assign teachers to courses, speakers to events, prices to any of these, and a lot more. Each teacher and speaker has their own profile, and your events can even incorporate a map to make it easier for users to find you.
Beside all that, as I mentioned earlier each course and event can also be assigned a category, allowing you to organise them all as you need.
Last but not least Themeum LMS also has a General Settings section. From here you can set the currency, what pages to use for Checkout, Payment Success and Payment Cancellations, and you can also set the PayPal settings to enable or disable this payment method and set the email address for your PayPal account.
What’s the end result like?
Now to the front-end of Varsita. Modifying the looks of the site is up to personal preference, but for this review I’ve just left it as basic as possible.
Below are some screenshots showing what you can achieve using just a few of the options and settings possible, and near-zero design changes.
As with other products on the ThemeForest market support is provided by the theme creators, in this case Themeum. They’ve got a Questions page on their site where premium theme customers can ask questions and get answers, as well as go through others’ questions to find solutions to any issues they might have encountered.
All questions seem to be replied to within a few hours by a member of their staff, as are the comments left on the ThemeForest Comments section.
Varsita is available for purchase from ThemeForest for $58 for a Regular License.
At that price, you’re also getting the included plugins and an LMS that anyone would be able to set up, use and make the most of for their website, whether it’s an educational institution, a training organisation or even a workplace just looking to offer training to employees.
Considering the prices of other WordPress LMS systems out there, Varsita is on the affordable side, with most others being around or higher than the $100 mark.
Conclusions & Recommendations
There are those of you out there that might be wary of using WordPress themes that come pre-packed with plugins and other files, sometimes resulting in a bloated theme, and you may be right. However Varsita seems to incorporate some handy plugins and features that anyone looking to create an LMS could use
After all, if you don’t currently need an e-commerce store, you can always leave out WooCommerce. However it will still be readily available if you decide to open one in the future. The same can be said for other plugins such as Revolution Slider or MailChimp.
The short time I spent working with Varsita and the Themeum LMS plugin has been quite productive. They both offer an intuitive UI that any level of WordPress user will be able to use in order to maintain the site, so there’s no worries of clients being unable to keep their sites updated.
On the front-end you’re free to modify the looks as you’d like. You’ve got quite a few theme options readily available, and you also have Visual Composer for those extra design tweaks, so if you’re looking to create a WordPress site for any form of educational or training institution, this theme is worth taking a look at.
What are your thoughts on Varsita and other themes of its sort? Do you have any experiences building a learning management system that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.