LifterLMS LaunchPad WordPress LMS Theme vs. Plugin Debate

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In this LMScast with Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett you’ll learn about WordPress LMS themes and WordPress LMS plugins. Specifically they talk about the release of the LifterLMS LaunchPad theme.

The big takeaway from this episode is that in the WordPress ecosystem, functionality belongs in a plugin and design belongs in a theme. So if your looking to build a WordPress powered learning management system, online courses site, or membership site, it’s best to use a plugin like LifterLMS for the functionality and a theme like the LifterLMS LaunchPad theme to give you control over the design.

When you use LifterLMS to build your online course site, it will continue to work well with any well coded WordPress theme. But because LifterLMS works with any decent theme, the design of the LifterLMS elements itself is very minimal so that it can integrate with any theme’s design style. When you use LifterLMS with the LifterLMS LaunchPad theme, you not only get a powerful set of theme options and Google Font integration for building a normal website. You also get point and click design control over the LifterLMS elements like the course tiles, the checkout page, the student dashboard, and more.

When you start exploring building an online courses website with WordPress, you start searching for “WordPress LMS themes” and “WordPress LMS plugins.” In this episode Joshua and Chris help you clarify all the noise surrounding how to approach the tools and softwares you need. It’s about getting the right tool for the right job.

Joshua uses a car analogy for your learning platform. The engine is a WordPress LMS plugin like LifterLMS. The body and the paint job is a WordPress LMS theme like LifterLMS LaunchPad.

If you are interested in learning more about the LifterLMS LaunchPad theme, head on over here to get more information. And remember to try a demo of LifterLMS to see what our course development platform can do for you.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Episode Transcript

Joshua: Hello, Everyone. Welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m Joshua Millage, and I’m joined in person today with Christopher Badgett. We’ve got a bunch of exciting news for you today. We’re releasing a WordPress LMS theme. It’s our first theme. It runs on top of Lifter. We’re very, very excited. It’s been a long time coming. Chris, tell us a little bit about what we’ve created here.

Chris: It’s been a long journey. We knew years ago when we started this project that if we wanted to go after the cash, it’s what’s known in the WordPress ecosystem as the theme arms race where you build this complicated theme that has all these sliders and whizz-bangs and courses in there. A lot of the people have a lot of buyer’s remorse when they buy something like that. Later, they install it, and it’s not really ready to go, or it’s a little too complicated, or it breaks easily. With the very beginning of the LifterLMS project, we made a conscious decision to build an online courses/membership site/learning management system plugin instead of a theme, because functionality belongs in that plugin. Our number one question is: what theme do you guys recommend?

We say that LifterLMS works with any well-coded WordPress theme, which is true. For example, our demo currently and in the past has been on the Genesis theme, but today we’re really excited to announce the release of our LifterLMS LaunchPad theme, it’s called LaunchPad. Basically what it does is it allows you to come in there. It doesn’t give you new course functionality or membership site plugin functionality. It’s a WordPress LMS theme, which means it gives you the ability to mess with the design of the LifterLMS elements without needing to know how to code.

That’s the whole design versus functionality. We’ve got them in the right place. LifterLMS will continue to work with any well-coded WordPress theme but now we have our own theme to offer which gives you the precise control over the courses and the student dashboard and all those elements. It’s important to note, it’ll work by itself without LifterLMS. It’s just a regular site. If you’re just getting started and you need a WordPress theme and you’re just throwing up a home page and about page, you can do all that as well and it gives you some great design control over the more general things in nature.

That’s the big announcement.

Joshua: That is the big announcement. I love it because we’ve been utilizing themes like you mentioned, the Genesis framework and Woo Canvas which is a personal favorite of mine. We were very inspired by these but I really do you think we’ve taken everything that we love about these frameworks and these themes and we’ve just 10xed it with ours.

The most exciting part, obviously, of being the creators of LifterLMS is that this is a true WordPress LMS theme. It’s a theme that was built to connect with the engine of LifterLMS. I’ve always used this analogy that LifterLMS is an engine to the car. You do need to go and find the body. We’ve never said that it’s going to be, I guess, intuitive to make it look great. That’s been hard to say that but it’s because we never had a theme that was built for it. It was never seamless.

Chris: I think a great way to look at that is the plugin for example like the course tiles and the student dashboard, it’s plain because it’s designed to work within a theme. The buttons are plain or they try to pick up the button styles and the theme or there’s a little grey border on something. It’s designed to be generic so it can work with any theme but now we’re giving you complete control over all that kind of stuff, of the paint job, of which upholstery package and all that kind of stuff.

Joshua: Absolutely. It’s really, really fun. It’s still compatible with all of the various things that we’ve been compatible with in the past.

Chris: That won’t change.

Joshua: Yeah. That won’t change. All of the things that you love with Lifter will work with this theme.

Chris, where can people go and find this and purchase it, if they want to support us and team over at LifterLMS?

Chris: Absolutely. You can go to You can find it there. You can also just click around the site and find it in our store when you’re exploring pricing and things like that. If you’re just finding this video and just hearing about us and just now getting interested in WordPress LMS themes or WordPress LMS plugins, go check us out at Our core plugin LifterLMS is free. We made that free a couple of months ago. Our theme’s there on the site as well. It’s called LifterLMS LaunchPad. Go check that out at

Joshua: That is amazing, man. I’m so excited. This is the first of many themes we’re putting together. If you find that you like this theme, we would encourage you to jump on board now. We also have more specific themes coming in the next, I would say, 6 months or so but we’re really excited about this. We just want to make it really easy for you to create a WordPress learning management system. This WordPress LMS theme is really the missing piece of the puzzle that we’ve been looking for since the beginning, since we started this. I’m excited. I’m excited to see what happens.

Thank you guys. If you have any questions about the theme, you can always reach us at Twitter. I’m @jmillage, @christopherbadgett or you can head over to and we have a contact form there where you can get a hold of our team. We’d happy to answer any questions that you have about the theme or LifterLMS as a plugin.

Chris: One of the things I just want to add that makes us different in the space is we don’t hide behind our website. You can see we’re here, we’re on the camera, we’re talking to you.

Joshua: I could use a little hair gel but yeah.

Chris: I have a pre-sales office hours every week, if you want to come talk to me. There’s a place for you to come do that live. We’re here for you and we’re all about the community of education entrepreneurs whether you’re in real estate, music, some kind of business or marketing or you’re using courses to support your SaaS product or some kind of internal corporate training or you’re an instructional designer e-learning consultant, we’re here for you. We want to be that technology partner with you. We’re really excited to announce the theme because that really completes the package.

Joshua: It does. Yeah.

Chris: If this themes and plugin conversation sounds a little bit too technical, we have a setup service called Boost that you can check out as well if you just want to get it done quickly but yeah. Check us out at Thanks for being with us on this journey.

Joshua: Yeah. Thank you so much. We’ll talk to you soon.

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