LearnDash has established itself as one of the most widely used WordPress LMS (learning management system), and there is a decent selection of a suitable WordPress LearnDash themes.
The difficult choice is to pick a theme that best suits your requirements. People often end up confused about whether to choose an LMS-specific theme or roll with a generic WordPress one.
LearnDash-specific themes are those that have been built explicitly for the LearnDash plugin or those that exclusively state their compatibility with LearnDash.
A LearnDash-specific theme can bring several advantages to the table. Some of these include:
- Ease of integration – Since the theme has been built specially for LearnDash, you don’t have to worry about UI conflicts when integrating LearnDash or any of its extensions.
- Support for LearnDash functionality – A LearnDash theme should support LearnDash functionality well, such as student profiles, quizzes, assignment uploads, etc.
- Compatibility assurance – There shouldn’t be conflicts when LearnDash plugin is updated.
A generic theme has not been built for LearnDash, nor does it guarantee LearnDash compatibility. It’s like any other WordPress theme.
But that doesn’t mean it will not work with LearnDash. Themes have a lot more to offer than styling options. They can have a direct (positive or negative) effect on your e-learning business.
When it comes to elearning, course design is significant. If your site doesn’t look professional, then your courses run the risk of being seen that way as well.
Think of it this way; if LearnDash is your training institute that houses your courses, a theme is a structural plan that the institute is built on.
It makes your content discoverable, it guides the learner, impacts the experience, and directly influences the learning process. A theme defines how a learner/teacher interacts with the system and creates an environment for learning.
If you go with an unsuitable theme, you might confuse the user or throw them off their desired path. But, given the sheer number of themes available for LearnDash, how do you pick the theme that’s right for you?
Types Of LearnDash Themes Explored
LearnDash is compatible with almost all WordPress LMS themes. But compatibility doesn’t mean bug-free operation. The theme has to blend with LearnDash to provide a seamless learning platform truly.
To classify the themes into different categories, you have:
- Course-centric themes
- Learner-centric themes
- Store-centric themes
Each category has something unique to offer. And, the way you want to structure the learning experience, will help you decide the best category for you.
Course-centric LearnDash Theme (eLumine)
eLumine is course-centric theme that puts the focus on learning material. The interface is tailored to blend in the course content, and user-experience is shaped around learning.
Course-centric themes are ideal for corporates, universities, and training organizations. Learning is given prime importance with features adding up to create a distraction-free, conducive, and favorable educational environment.
The best course-centric theme for LearnDash is eLumine. eLumine is designed to change LearnDash layouts completely. eLumine has several advantages over existing LMS themes, including much better layouts for the WooCommerce shop page and LearnDash course page.
The theme offers a unique and seamless layout for LearnDash quizzes, sports a pleasant course progress-tracking bar, includes custom course-specific widgets, contains collapsible side-bars to make the layout reader-friendly, is search-engine optimized (to help rank your course content), and integrates a review and course feedback module.
To list out the theme’s options, you get drag and drop page builder, gamification options, one-click demo import, multilingual support, course video integration, multiple color schemes, customizable fonts, logo upload option, social media sharing options, etc.
eLumine recently introduced three different ready to import demos or starter sites which prove to be very useful when one looks towards saving time and effort.
No more investing heaps of time in setting up menus, building pages, registration forms etc., Three well built sites, with all the theme settings configured and courses is a premium very useful feature.
Apart from LearnDash, eLumine integrates with WooCommerce (provides custom layouts), BuddyPress. bbPress, Gravity Forms (see WPForms vs Gravity Forms comparison), Contact Form 7, WPML (check WPML review), Advanced Course Manager, etc.
Quizzes are not only fun but also helpful for students when it comes to memorizing what they have learned. With eLumine, not only will you get a quiz module, but your quiz module also possesses one-of-a-kind look and feel.
To make sure your customers can express what they think of your e-learning website and you can know their thoughts, eLumine supports the Ratings, Reviews and Feedback extension.
Student-centric Theme (Social Learner)
Student-centric themes put learners at the focal point. A student-centric theme encourages collaboration and communication between students. The student profile is where course discovery and learning begins.
Social Learner is a quintessential student-centric theme and is fluidly compatible with LearnDash. The layout is completely redefined to create a social-network-like-feel, with achievements, discussions, and activity updates being tightly integrated. It allows an informal and easy flow of communication between students and teachers.
Social Learner offers a customizable member profile, highlights student milestones, achievements, and course progress, allows student updates to be tracked and shared on a timeline, and encourages engagement and interaction.
The theme is suitable for schools, colleges, or youth training programs. Social Learner also allows you to edit styling using a visual customizer, setting to change the color scheme or create a new one, manage layouts, select and customize the fonts, upload a logo, add customized codes, optimize scripts, translate the theme, etc.
Social Learner is a big driver for engagement thanks to powerful social features and integrated gamification.
It helps to style and integrate all the moving parts that you might want to make use of if you’re going to create an impressive online course site that has a strong social networking component as well.
Comes with real-time notifications in the toolbar, showing you messages, friend requests and more without having to refresh the page.
Social Learner comes with beautiful styles for forms, working out-of-the-box with popular form plugins including BuddyForms, Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7.
Store-centric Theme (Academy Pro)
Store-centric themes focus on the purchase aspect of courses. They are ideal for course merchants or those looking to create a course marketplace.
The Academy Pro theme is LearnDash compatible, but it is pre-styled for WooCommerce (hence making it store-centric). It offers a clean UI and several options to change the styling of the theme.
The theme allows for easy store setup along with modern-clean design, e-commerce capabilities (to sell your courses), pricing page (to list out membership prices), fast-loading capabilities for quick navigation, responsive, mobile-friendly layouts, and search engine optimization.
The Academy Pro theme is built on Genesis, which means it comes along with options to customize the colors and content with real-time updates, select from various layouts, tailor widget areas, divide content into columns, add custom icons, and style messages and buttons, customize the header with logo upload, etc.
Academy Pro is WooCommerce ready and compatible with LearnDash and Ninja Forms. The reason why I say it’s built for WooCommerce and compatible with LearnDash is because it is primarily an e-commerce theme.
Other Compatible WordPress LearnDash Themes
There are many other LeaRnDash themes available, so if you don’t like any of above mentioned, you can take a look for alternative options.
Astra theme has extensive integration with LearnDash which allows you to achieve uniform, professional and well-branded course website.
Astra theme is fully compatible with LearnDash and offers many features in free version itself. Apart from this, the Astra Pro version offers vivid features for LMS.
Astra dedicated, and conversion oriented options help you get more students. You can create custom designed sales pages for your online course and membership plans.
The integration of Astra with LearnDash gives you unique features like Distraction Free Learning, Personalized Profile Image, etc. Astra is a complete package that integrates well with WooCommerce, Elementor, Beaver Builder and more alongside LearnDash.
Astra makes sure that your courses, progress bars, account pages, widgets, sidebars and more integrate consistently with your brand. It gives you dedicated options that let you customize and control everything related to LearnDash.
Good courses need a better sales page to match the standards. Attract students, build interest and convince them to take up a course. With Astra and LearnDash, you can build a conversion friendly sales page and add all the details your students are looking for.
You can enhance LearnDash layouts and create custom sales pages that look more appealing and attractive to bring in more students. For more information about Astra, be sure to check Astra theme review.
ThemeForest market offers many LearnDash oriented and compatible themes. Some of them include Unidash WordPress theme, Edumodo education theme, LeranPLUS, etc.
LearnDash Themes Final Thoughts
LearnDash is compatible with most themes. But a wrong (or rather not-so suitable) theme, will make you work-around it to get desirable results.
The right theme will make life so much simpler. Themes bring a lot more to the table than mere styling options. In some cases, they are driven by your business decision.
For example, if your focus is on students, making sure they can consume learning content effectively, you should pick a learner-centric theme (eLumine).
If your target audience and style of teaching calls for an increased need in communication and collaboration, go for a student-centric theme (Social Learner).
If selling courses is what matters, go for an e-commerce-centric theme. When building any website, a theme is central to the look and user interaction. With a LearnDash-specific theme, you can’t go wrong. It provides you the right kind of support you need, to build a seamless learning site with LearnDash.
Given the many tasks, you, as the learning administrator, have to manage – a theme built for LearnDash can help you get rid of unnecessary site setup hassles.
You can further expand LearnDash funcionality using LearnDash addons. One of very useful addons is Instructor Role Plugin For LearnDash which makes handling increasing students on Learndash much easier. If LearnDash is not right plugin for you, great alternative is Tutor LMS. You can find more about it in my Tutor LMS review.
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