Setting up an online course can be simple if you choose the right hosting provider. Your choice in learning management systems (LMS) determines your site’s performance, cost of operation, and the detail you can place in your course. Some LMS hosting providers enable you to efficiently set up an entire academy.
The key here is to choose an LMS host that’s reliable, efficient, and scalable. In this article, we show you how to choose the right LMS hosting provider. We go over the most important factors and show you how to set up an online course of your own.
Why is your hosting provider important?
Your choice of hosting provider determines the technical performance of your site. In addition, hosting providers provide site security and design elements on top of the model with which your course can scale.
For course creators specifically, your site will have significantly more logged-in users than a typical website. Logged-in traffic is typically not “cached” and can use more server resources than logged-out visitors.
As your course site grows, running reports, file storage space, and handling payment transactions are all factors that may require you to seek out the best hosting environment possible.
Using a good hosting provider ensures that your site runs smoothly, without delays or downtime. If you want to run a scalable business, this is extremely important.
Good hosting also means good security — inadequate protection can put your finances and reputation at risk. If user data is compromised, especially if users lose credit card information, the damage to your brand can be substantial.
If you plan on running an online course or academy with any flexibility and scalability, the first choice you make needs to be the right choice in LMS provider.
What are the factors to consider when choosing a hosting provider?
There are several important factors to look at when considering a hosting platform.
Uptime refers to the portion of time when your website is online and functioning properly. High uptime rates mean your students can access course materials easily. Of course, it also means new students can sign up for your course without delay.
You need a hosting provider with both good uptime rates and real-time monitoring. The latter ensures that you’re the first to know if anything goes wrong with your site.
Your bandwidth refers to how much data your website uses per month. Your LMS site needs enough bandwidth to enable students to access their course materials without significant delays. Not having enough bandwidth causes hiccups, lags in loading times, and an overall annoying learning experience.
If your course includes a lot of images and videos, you need significantly more bandwidth. If you run multiple sites from a single account, such as a WordPress multisite, you need more bandwidth for that too.
Even the most well-designed web hosting provider’s platform is imperfect. Problems of some kind are inevitable, especially technical difficulties.
Choosing a host with great customer support is the antidote to many problems. Great customer support enables you to get through problems smoothly. It can also mean getting the best advice on how to set up your LMS site.
Good businesses of any kind offer a fair pricing structure for their goods and services.
Good LMS hosts offer flexible pricing options and a reasonable overall cost. They also don’t charge hidden fees or try to sneakily take more money than they say they will.
When you’re looking for the right LMS host, check for hidden fees and watch demonstrations. If they offer a free trial, test it before you commit to a long-term contract.
Advanced features (bonus)
Advanced features can offer additional functionality that improves learning experiences. They can also improve site security.
You should consider certain additional features that some hosting providers have:
- SSL certificates
- Open source
- Many testing options (quizzes, long-form, etc.)
- User experience design options
All of these factors and features are available with the right dedicated hosting provider. We recommend choosing the hosting provider with the best functionality and widest range of features.
Top three hosting providers for an LMS site
Let’s go over the top hosting providers. Here, we look at various types of hosts and we go over their top features and pricing.
Pressable is a managed hosting provider for WordPress and our preferred choice since it is an Automattic venture. It was designed for the needs of small businesses and offers several important features that we’ve covered. To start, they offer a “100% guaranteed” uptime commitment, including refunds for any downtime you experience (excepting scheduled server maintenance). They also offer free and complete site migration, and free SSL certificates and malware scanning.
If you’re just getting started, their hosting has a $19 per month plan with 10GB storage and up to 5,000 monthly visits. They offer a lot of scalability, so you can update your plan as you scale, up to a custom plan for businesses with over 150 sites and 3 million monthly visits.
BlueHost is a great hosting provider for beginners. It comes with all you need to offer your course on a WordPress site. It even includes a drag and drop page builder, all for a starting price of just $4.95 per month.
If you plan on offering a scalable course that ends up being offered to hundreds of thousands, it may not be the best choice. But they do offer a premium package that comes with 15TB of bandwidth.
WP Engine is our third recommendation for a premium hosting provider. They offer a managed WordPress hosting plan but offer plans to suit the needs of various types of individuals and businesses. Their basic managed WordPress hosting plan (“Startup”) starts at $25 per month.
WP Engine offers incredible functionality that makes running a course with them a good choice. Their hosting engine comes with automated WordPress and PHP updates and proactive security infrastructure. Even their most basic plan ($25/month) comes with a simple 1-click backup option. If you are interested in organic marketing, they also offer SEO features.
Once you’ve found the hosting provider you feel is best for you, you need to use a WordPress plugin to build an LMS site.
Hosting providers may offer some features that enable you to build a site. Drag and drop and other features can even be used to set up basic course infrastructure. But you cannot have a functional LMS site without a dedicated solution.
The simplest, cheapest, and overall best way to offer a course on your hosted WordPress site is with an LMS plugin. Dedicated LMS/course plugins give you the entire infrastructure to manage both course content and your learners.
Sensei LMS is a complete eLearning solution for online course creators. It works on WooCommerce, the eCommerce platform. The WordPress plugin is user friendly for both you and your students. Most importantly, it offers a suite of basic and advanced features that enables you to maximize the customization and quality of your course (or entire academy). At the same time, it enables you to offer a high quality and complete learning experience.
Here are the most important features.
Easy content dripping
Content dripping is a feature for scheduling the release of your course materials. It enables you to plan everything in advance.
An example of LMS content dripping would be creating a 12-state course, with one lesson automatically sent out each week. So, you don’t need to constantly update your course material or do tedious manual work.
The Sensei LMS content dripping feature is fully customizable. You can set whatever schedule you’d like, and you can edit it at any time.
Easy setup for payment methods
Sensei LMS facilitates payments with several important payment gateways. The list is quite comprehensive but includes some of the most popular payment methods, including:
- WooCommerce Payments
Easy course setup using various formats like quizzes, videos, and more
When launching an eLearning course, creative freedom can be extremely important. This is why Sensei LMS offers all the important formats for lessons and examinations.
You can liberally apply any mix of multiple choice, long-form answer, true or false, and more for tests. You can also offer lessons in any mix of written content, images, and videos.
You have the freedom to create courses and tests of varying lengths, using any number of formats. This makes Sensei LMS a flexible plugin that can be applied to any kind of subject matter. It doesn’t matter what you’re teaching, Sensei LMS gives you the tools to teach it and evaluate learners in the most appropriate way.
Complete student management: evaluate and grade tests, track scores, and track course progress
No LMS plugin is complete without a student management interface. Sensei LMS offers an intuitive interface for evaluating and tracking grades, scores, course progress, and more. This offers even more flexibility as you can also tweak your course to make it more valuable to your learners.
Easy certificate creation
Certification is often an important part of online courses. Sensei LMS has a certificate creation feature that allows you to create custom certificates. This is a useful feature if evidence of the successful completion of your course is important to learners.
Convert blog posts into courses
Why create a course from scratch when you already have so much existing content?
The Sensei LMS Post to Course Creator feature takes the information you’ve already published in online articles and turns it into course material. Within the Post to Course Creator interface, you just name your course and select a category. Every post within the specified category is recreated as a lesson.
This feature automatically converts the post:
- Featured image
With a little editing, this feature makes course creation streamlined and easy.
If you’re creating an online course, you need to choose the hosting provider that best fits your needs. Hosting providers vary in terms of security, support, add-ons, bandwidth, uptime, and cost. The right course for you offers what you need at a cost you can justify.
The top hosting providers for anyone looking to launch an online course are:
- WP Engine
Once you’ve chosen your provider, you want to use a WordPress plugin to actually create and manage your course. For that purpose, we recommend Sensei LMS:
- It’s fully scalable
- Its automation features save you time and enable you to create a course in minutes
- It offers full student tracking and management
- It comes with a great support team
- It’s fully customizable and applicable to many subjects