While both are popular and reliable learning management systems, Thinkific and LearnDash differ significantly in many aspects. Thinkific is a dedicated online course platform that provides you with almost all the tools you need to set-up, sell, and deliver courses and services. On the other hand, LearnDash is a premium WordPress plugin that can’t run without a WordPress website. One is not necessarily better than the other, so we break down their advantages and disadvantages to help you decide which LMS better suits your business needs.
Thinkific vs LearnDash Comparison Chart
|Pricing and Plans||Check Price at Thinkific.com||Check Price at LearnDash.com|
|Standout Features||Affordable monthly plans, customizable site settings, comprehensive quizzing features, and extensive third-party integrations||Premium WordPress plugin, Best for businesses with existing WordPress websites|
|Number of Courses||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Number of Students||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Affiliate Program||Yes||3rd party plugin required|
|Full video and content hosting||Yes||3rd party plugin required|
|Memberships||Yes||3rd party plugin required|
|Free Plan||Yes||No, but offers a 30-day money-back guarantee|
Thinkific is overall more affordable than LearnDash
Comparing the monthly fees of Thinkific and LearnDash is not as straightforward as it seems. At a glance, LearnDash is significantly cheaper than Thinkific as the pricing plans you see above are for annual subscriptions. Let’s say you opt for the highest-tier plan on LearnDash ($369), the annual cost is still lower compared to the annual subscription to Thinkific’s lowest-tier plan ($39 x 12 months =$468/year). While that sounds like a steal, running your online course or coaching service business on LearnDash is actually more expensive than doing so on Thinkific if you factor in the domain name, website hosting plan, video hosting plan, and other required paid plugins for LearnDash.
Thinkific’s monthly cost when you subscribe annually
With Thinkific, the monthly cost is more clear-cut as you need fewer integrations to run your business smoothly. You know how much you’ll be charged every month/year and you know what to expect from the plan you choose. For those who are complete beginners in selling online courses and have a tighter budget, Thinkific offers a forever free plan. This free plan lets you start selling up to three courses to unlimited students at no cost to you. As for LearnDash, you get 30 days to test the platform and, if it doesn’t fit your needs, you can ask for a full refund within those 30 days.
Set-up and Ease of Use
Thinkific is more intuitive while LearnDash offers wider customization options
Even if you are not tech-savvy, you can design and set-up your online courses and coaching services on Thinkific’s intuitive platform. It’s clean, straightforward, and not as intimidating as WordPress and LearnDash. If you’re starting from scratch, you can build and start selling your products much faster on Thinkific as everything you need to get started is all available in its platform. Whereas with LearnDash, if you don’t have an existing WordPress site set up yet, you’ll have to jump through hoops before you can launch your offers.
Another important factor to consider is LearnDash requires a separate video and content hosting platform. Your training videos can be hosted on video hosting platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia. YouTube is free, but it comes with risks. Anyone who has access to the link will be able to watch your training videos for free. This is why going subscribing to a Vimeo or Wistia plan is recommended. These platforms can restrict access to your videos if the links are not clicked from your domain.
While LearnDash requires a higher learning curve than Thinkific, more experienced course builders appreciate its flexibility and versatility. Thinkific has a drag and drop page builder that lets you create your training portal, but its design options may be too limited for some. With LearnDash, you have more control over the design and flow of your courses. You can install some of the top-rated page builders like Beaver Builder, Divi, and Elementor on WordPress and design stylish online course pages. This also makes consistent branding across your website easier to achieve.
Thinkific and LearnDash have similar content delivery and automation features, but LearnDash requires a separate plugin for memberships and community engagements
Thinkific and LearnDash offer similar core features such as advanced quizzes, drip content, certifications and badges, coupon codes, and unlimited courses and pages. If you opt for Thinkific’s higher-tier plans, you can also start offering memberships and affiliate programs for your loyal students. As for LearnDash, you’ll need a separate plugin to be able to offer these. Even community engagement/forum, which is available on Thinkific’s free plan, requires a separate plugin installation on LearnDash.
Part of having your own community requires a dedicated email marketing software as well for nurturing relationships or selling new services to your subscribers. Thinkific sends some alerts and messages to your subscribers or students, but it’s nowhere near as robust as email marketing tools like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, AWeber, or ConvertKit. Whether you opt for Thinkific or LearnDash, you’ll still end up needing a powerful third-party email marketing tool for your email campaigns and automated sequences.
LearnDash requires more integrations than Thinkific
Thinkific and LearnDash can be connected with leading third-party marketing and automation tools that businesses typically use. Integrating software like ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, Accredible, and Brillium with Thinkific is a breeze. LearnDash can also be integrated with a wide range of WordPress plugins such as bbPress, Easy Digital Downloads, MemberPress, and BadgeOS, to name a few.
We recommend taking a look at their compatible integrations first before deciding on an LMS so you are sure that your existing solutions in place will work seamlessly with the platform. For a complete list of Thinkific integrations, click here and for LearnDash integrations, you can check the list here.
Thinkific makes building and selling online courses easier while LearnDash offers wider customization options if you know your way around WordPress and its plugins
Thinkific and LearnDash have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. If you’re looking for a hassle-free, efficient way to set-up your online training programs and services, Thinkific better fits you. Its intuitive interface and comprehensive set of tools make it easier for you to focus more on creating and marketing and less on tinkering with the platform. You can also integrate Thinkific within your WordPress site if you wish. Create your free Thinkific account here.
Meanwhile, LearnDash is for you if you feel you need more flexibility in designing your platform or you already have a WordPress website and want to centralize your tools. WordPress has the most plugins available, thus you have more extension options to choose from if you opt for LearnDash. It’s not as intuitive as Thinkific, however, and we only recommend LearnDash if you don’t mind spending more time setting up your WordPress site or hiring a developer to do this for you. You can try LearnDash’s features with a 30-day money-back guarantee here.
One is not exactly better than the other, but Thinkific makes hosting, selling, and delivering your online courses less complicated than LearnDash. Thinkific hosts all the videos and digital content for you, while with LearnDash, you’ll need a third-party host such as Vimeo for your training videos.
Thinkific is more intuitive than LearnDash and setting up your online courses will be much faster on Thinkific if you don’t have an existing WordPress website yet.
Yes, Thinkific supports integration with WordPress. You can add a Thinkific checkout button within your WordPress site or migrate your content from WordPress to Thinkific.
LearnDash remains among the best LMS for WordPress websites. It offers full control over how you can design your online training platform and can be connected with an array of existing WordPress plugins.