How to build a successful e-learning platform like Udemy?
The current year is a witness to the transition that has been taking place in the educational system. Over the years, factors such as the cost of college education, high-quality teaching, place, and pace of learning, etc. made the learners look for alternative educational platforms instead of the traditional (classroom) education system—no wonder the alternative was found soon. According to Research and Markets, e-learning will grow to $325 billion by 2025, a triple the revenue of 2015, i.e., $107 billion. Today, “e-learning” has become a buzzword that paints the face of modern education and rightly so, due to the following reasons.
- Global market value of e-learning platforms
- Flexibility (in terms of time and place)
- Self-paced mode
- Lower cost and often no cost
- Language options (course delivery in various languages)
- Learner’s engagement with the instructors
- Better learning experience with advanced technology
- Rating system along with feedbacks and reviews
- Inclusion of assignments, activities, quizzes, etc
- Course completion certificate (often with accreditation)
- Exposure to worldwide subject-matter experts
The rising popularity of e-learning paved its way for the increased demand for e-learning platforms/websites. As a result, new e-learning platforms are popping up now and then, of which some of the most popular and influential platforms are Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare, Edx.com, LinkedIn Learning, etc. To know more about these platforms, its features, and pricing plans, check out the Top 5 e-learning platforms in 2020.
Organizations are ready to invest in an e-learning platform across the world, whereas entrepreneurs seek e-learning developers and agencies to make their dream come true. But the real question is, how do you build a successful e-learning platform like the widely-opted platforms like Udemy and so forth? Without further delay, let’s see how.
Market analysis & target audience:
Before you venture into any business, e-commerce, or e-learning, conducting a market analysis is crucial. You can do this either by assessing the market’s stats or for a particular locale, such as a specific city(s) or country(s). Such market analysis will help you to recognize the opportunities that await in the coming years pertaining to that specific sector. Post the analysis of the global/locale market view; it is critical to conduct UX research.
UX research (also known as user research and design research) is a systematic investigation of your users in order to gather insights that help you make informed design decisions. By conducting the UX research using the various techniques involved, you can understand the user’s needs, behaviors, attitude, and most significantly, pain points.
In a single sentence, UX research is all about gathering and interpreting data and feedback, which allows you to put your design project into context. By doing so, you ensure that you design with the user in mind, which is key for creating a successful product like Udemy. On the whole, the market analysis and UX research sheds plenty of light on
- User’s goals, requirements, and mental models
- Detecting problems/challenges
- Validate or invalidate your assumptions
- Identify commonalities (patterns) across the target user groups
Selecting your niche:
The next step on your way to creating a successful e-learning platform is to select your niche. Several e-learning platforms cover a spectrum of topics, but you must always go from smaller levels to the higher ones when it comes to laying the first stone. It is critical to choose your niche, i.e., whether your courses are about technology, health, arts, personal development, fitness, or others. You must also be well aware of your learners’ demographic - age, gender, educational background, etc. and their preferences.
As your platform evolves, you can incorporate as many topics you wish to offer on the go and over the years. Like most popular platforms, you can also divide your courses into a chosen number of categories and list out the pertaining courses to its concerned categories. For example, the categories; Create, Build, and Thrive as in Skillshare or Business, Creative and Technology as in LinkedIn Learning.
In whatever way you categorize your courses and add more topics, make sure to start with your area of expertise like fitness, technology, etc. Don’t forget that there are no credit points for the number of courses you offer; its quality matters.
Choosing a business model
The other factor that plays a crucial role in Return on Investment (ROI) is your business model choice. If you’re expecting profits from your e-learning platform, then choosing a monetization strategy must be your priority before building an e-learning website. You have got numerous business models that proved to be good-to-go options in driving revenue for several popular e-learning plans, of which some of them are listed below.
- Paid certificates: In this business model, the admin (one who manages the platform) creates tie-ups with several recognized (mostly, top-notch) universities and educational institutions thereby, to provide the learners with verified (or accredited) course completion certificates, which ensures a continuous medium of revenue coming your way.
- Paid courses: Yet another easy way to earn serious revenue for your business. Through the paid course model, whenever a student purchases a paid course from your platform, you will gain a part of the revenue while the other part goes to the concerned instructor who uploaded the course.
- Corporate collaboration: Here, similar to creating tie-ups with universities for providing e-certificates, you’ll be collaborating with any business organization to deliver them with specific courses. To cater to their learning-related requirements and train their employees in a centralized manner, you will be offering specific courses that ensure a huge sum of revenue for your website.
- Affiliate model: In this type of model, you will be featuring/integrating various study material links such as links for books or equipment, which will be required by the learners so as to progress in the course whichever they opted from your e-learning platform. Once the learners follow the link and make a purchase, you will gain revenue out of it.
- Subscription-based & premium account: With this model, you can earn revenue on a subscription basis. Whenever the user buys a paid subscription; be it a monthly or annual basis, they’ll get unlimited access to your platform and all of its courses, which in turn taps a periodical revenue for your business.
- Donations: Hardly, few companies incorporate this type of business model. There are non-profit organizations that build and run an e-learning platform for completely free. If all their resources (courses) are free, where do they get money to keep doing what they do - maintaining the website, adding new course content and features. They get it through donations.
Yes, you heard it right, several reputed enterprises will donate money. For example, you have Khan Academy, a non-profit educational organization that got its donation from top companies such as Google, AT&T, and so forth.
Must have sweet spots (features):
Having talked about the essential aspects and factors to look for while building an e-learning platform, let’s now move forward with the core features and additional values. These are featured in every successful e-learning platform like Udemy, Coursera, Edx, etc. and that needed to be incorporated in every newly built e-learning website. They are as follows:
- Account registration & easy sign-up
- Profile management - for admin, instructors & students
- Dashboard - filtering & search with autocomplete
- Course page - description, syllabus, enrollment options
- Learner engagement via comments, FAQ, exercises, assignments & quizzes
- Rating system & recommendations
- Payment gateways - multiple payment options
- Course-creation toolkit
- Refund policy & push notifications
- Availability of transcripts
- Whiteboard, workspace, and text chat (real-time messaging)
- Responsive designs (for mobile users)
- Extra-plug-ins & third-party tools
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