MemberPress and LearnDash are two of the most popular solutions for creating a membership website or selling courses through your site. However, how do you go about comparing MemberPress vs LearnDash?
There are quite a few factors to consider and you need to understand every aspect of these solutions to make an informed decision. With that said, let’s get down with a thorough comparison.
MemberPress vs LearnDash – A Basic Overview
Let us first clearly introduce both MemberPress and LearnDash. This is important because most people consider them as two very similar options, but they actually fall into two somewhat different categories.
LearnDash is simply a learning management system (LMS) plugin. In other words, it’s only designed to help you create and sell courses. But it comes as a complete course management system, so you don’t need to have different plugins for different course management functionalities such as a course registration plugin.
MemberPress, on the other hand, is a membership site plugin. While you can definitely use it to create and sell courses, MemberPress is essentially designed to serve a wider purpose.
Pic credit: MemberPress
You can create a fully-fledged membership website using MemberPress. It doesn’t have to be courses. You can sell premium content, forum memberships, access to exclusive groups, and so on.
So as you can see, LearnDash and MemberPress are actually two fairly different options. While the former is laser-focused on managing and selling courses, the other allows you to create a membership website where the product or service can be a lot of things other than the courses.
Do keep in mind that if you’re looking for a more complete WordPress membership plugin and not just a course management plugin, then you have many options to choose from. Paid Member Subscriptions, for one, is a complete membership site plugin too that may turn out to be a simpler and more affordable alternative for many users.
This is why when comparing MemberPress and LearnDash, we will also include some relevant information about Paid Member Subscriptions here and there so that it helps you make a more informed decision with another solid option for your consideration.
MemberPress vs LearnDash – User Interface
Since MemberPress is a complete membership site plugin while LearnDash is only a course management plugin, the user interface and experience can differ greatly. You should expect MemberPress to have a steeper learning curve and a more complicated user interface when compared to LearnDash.
In fact, you would need to install the MemberPress Courses add-on to use MemberPress for selling courses.
But we wouldn’t really put it as a shortcoming of MemberPress. Since a membership plugin needs to have a lot more functionalities – some fairly advanced too – it’s usually going to be more difficult to get familiar with than a simple LMS plugin.
LearnDash, on the other hand, can be a lot simpler to use. You can create courses just like you create blog posts. Sure, you would need to use some advanced add-ons and functionalities if you want to add some specific functionalities to your website, but it’s comparatively much simpler for the most part.
That being said, if you’re after a membership plugin minus the more complicated user interface, then you should maybe consider an alternative in Paid Member Subscriptions. Most of the functionalities you need can be added and managed in a few clicks, and there are easy-to-use add-ons for any advanced functionalities you may need with this alternative.
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LearnDash vs MemberPress – Functionality
There’s a considerable difference in the overall functionality of MemberPress and LearnDash. However, a lot would depend on your needs too.
Since MemberPress is a complete membership site plugin that offers a much more comprehensive feature set, you can expect it to offer a higher level of functionality. Here’s a quick look at some of its important features:
- Restrict premium content and encourage visitors to make a purchase using the Paywall protection functionality;
- Supports different membership levels where you can customize the benefits, restrictions, pricing, and much more;
- Offer customizable coupons with expiration dates as well as restrict their maximum usage;
- Drip content functionality that allows releasing the premium content in batches to your subscribers or students;
- Many add-ons to add specific and useful functionalities to your site, such as creating a high-converting landing page without any coding skills;
- Support for multiple payment gateways, you don’t need a separate WooCommerce PayPal plugin or a Stripe plugin.
In addition, it also allows you to create and manage an affiliate program. This can help increase your sales through your affiliate partners who promote your course or membership products.
Do not confuse this with the functionality of a WooCommerce Amazon affiliate plugin, though. Since that one is specifically designed to promote products on your own store and monetize using the Amazon affiliate program only.
As we mentioned above, LearnDash is completely centered around creating, managing, and selling online courses. Some of its main functionalities include the following:
- Create courses easily in a few minutes;
- Use your private or public YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia playlist to create your course in just a few clicks;
- Supports both text-based and video-based courses;
- Lots of customizations from the type of courses to the pricing to the dripping of content and lots more;
- Functionality for offering group courses;
- Offer certificate-based courses where the students get a certificate after successfully completing the course;
- Integrates seamlessly with Kadence Starter Templates to help you create your course website with premade themes designed specifically for your niche.
In addition, LearnDash also partnered up with Astra in 2019 to help you create a one-click LearnDash course website.
You can create free courses, paid courses, or courses with fixed or recurring payments. You can also add quizzes to your courses to make them more engaging and useful.
There are also many add-ons for adding other useful functionalities as well as some advanced features to your course website.
LearnDash comes with built-in support for a variety of payment gateways and payment methods, including Stripe and PayPal. Of course, it also allows you to accept credit card payments through the following integrations, without having to use a third-party WordPress Stripe plugin:
- Paid Memberships Pro
- and others
All said and done, however, you must note that LearnDash quickly becomes redundant when you try to use it for anything beyond selling courses. While it could be one of the easiest ways to sell courses and manage a WordPress course website, it certainly isn’t an ideal solution for running a more comprehensive membership website.
Can You Get the Best of Both Worlds?
Depending on your needs, Paid Member Subscriptions could offer a great balance between these two solutions. It brings the simplicity and ease of set-up of LearnDash but the advanced functionalities and more comprehensive subscription-based operations of MemberPress.
Just like MemberPress, it supports multiple membership and pricing levels, allows you to drip-feed course or premium content to your subscribers, and restrict content to encourage visitors to purchase a membership to access the restricted premium content.
It also allows you to offer free trials and time-based subscriptions. You can also use Paid Member Subscriptions to customize your course or plan pricing, such as charging higher sign-up fees followed by smaller, fixed recurring payments to your users to continue their premium membership.
There are also other unique features like pay-what-you-want pricing, discount codes, and redirecting users to your landing page (where you sell your membership plans) on login, registration, or just from any custom page you want.
What’s more? It’s also much cheaper than both MemberPress and LearnDash. But let’s talk more about that below.
MemberPress vs LearnDash – The Pricing
Since MemberPress goes well beyond being just a course management plugin, it’s naturally priced much higher. It does offer a much wider range of features and functionalities to help create and run a membership website.
That said, the most basic plan of MemberPress that comes with a single-site license is priced at $179.5. And their Pro plan – the most advanced plan they offer which supports up to 5 sites – comes with a price tag of $399.5.
You must note that many of the specific useful functionalities like the ability to add quizzes and certificates and some advanced integrations and customizations are not available in the basic plan.
On the other hand, a single-site LearnDash license costs $199 per year. The 10-site license would set you back $399/year. If you plan to run an even higher number of course websites, you would have to go for the unlimited plan which is a hefty $799/year.
It’s important to note that some of the advanced add-ons offered by LearnDash are paid add-ons and would require additional purchases.
Coming to our alternative, the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin, you’re offered the Basic plan for a mere €69, which turns out to be a little more than $75 at the time of writing this post. It can be used on one site only.
However, even the Pro version is priced much cheaper at just €149 (a little over $163) and can be used on an unlimited number of sites. It also comes with some extra advanced functionalities such as free trial and sign-up fees, and advanced add-ons that help you manage tax charges when receiving payments, use PayPal Express, implement content dripping functionality, and more.
Both the plans come with a year of support and updates.
A full-fledged membership site plugin being priced cheaper than just a WordPress course plugin reflects the value you get with Paid Member Subscriptions.
LearnDash vs MemberPress – Integrations
Again, MemberPress is a clear winner here but the question is whether you really need all the integrations it offers. Ranging from page builders to AI content creation software, there’s barely any area it doesn’t cover with its integrations.
Let us quickly walk you through some of its main types of integrations:
- Page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder;
- Popular email management software;
- Affiliate management platforms like Easy Affiliate and AffiliateWP;
- Analytical tools including MonsterInsights;
- Project management tools such as Asana;
- Popular CRM tools;
- Community-building solutions including BuddyPress;
- ChatGPT for AI content creation;
- LearnDash itself for a more functional course website.
There’s actually a total of 104 integrations.
Coming to LearnDash, you would have to settle for a comparatively modest 34 integrations. It does try to cover all the important categories though. Here’s a quick look again:
- Email management software;
- An affiliate solution in Solid Affiliate;
- Weglot for AI-based content translation;
- Contact form plugin integration with Gravity Forms;
- Membership site plugins like MemberPress and Paid Memberships Pro.
Its 4 featured integrations include an events solution, a content restriction tool, Zapier, and WooCommerce.
Pic credit: LearnDash
Now talking about Paid Member Subscriptions, it doesn’t offer as many integrations. But it ensures that you get pretty much all the integrations that course or membership site owners typically need.
Paid Member Subscriptions integrates with Elementor, WooCommerce, BuddyPress, and it also has built-in functionality for content dripping. In fact, it comes with built-in functionalities for a lot of tasks that the other options offer integrations for.
Finally, it also integrates with Profile Builder, one of the most popular WordPress registration and login form plugins.
MemberPress vs LearnDash – The Verdict Is Out!
We have covered all the important areas of comparison between LearnDash and MemberPress. We sure hope this made the choice much easier for you.
MemberPress could be a great option if you’re looking to create an advanced membership site. Or if you plan to sell other forms of subscriptions or memberships, other than just courses.
On the other hand, if you simply want to sell courses and courses only without much fuss or customizations to your setup, then LearnDash may meet your needs better.
However, Paid Member Subscriptions might just fit your needs and budget even better. If you aren’t looking for a lot of bells and whistles but need a wider range of functionalities than what LearnDash offers, then Paid Member Subscriptions may hit the spot just right for you.
In fact, it makes for a great option for course or membership site owners who are just starting out and have a tight budget to work with. Paid Member Subscriptions will accommodate you for far less than either MemberPress or LearnDash, without disappointing you on the functionality front.
So if you’re not sure about either MemberPress or LearnDash due to the pricing or other factors, give Paid Member Subscriptions a try and you may end up thanking yourself later!
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