If you’ve worked with WordPress at all, then you know about themes. But you may not know about WordPress LMS themes that work with WP learning management system plugins. In this LMScast Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett describe what a theme is for and how to choose the best one for your online course design.
First, let’s define terms: A plugin is an addition to WordPress that brings a specific functionality to your website. A theme is the graphic design and layout for the user interface. Currently there is a trend toward building functionality into themes, and that added complexity within the theme makes development and expansion difficult with some plugins.
The LifterLMS plugin has complete functionality built in so that it should be compatible with almost any theme, but the LifterLMS development team is also working on a theme designed to work with their plugin seamlessly. Their theme design will allow you to easily switch themes and expand your LMS as your site grows.
Some other recommended themes for the LifterLMS plugin include the WooThemes Canvas design theme, which features a wide selection of typography fonts, layouts, backgrounds, and other design elements that non-developers can easily access and use without modifying code. Also look at the Genesis framework by StudioPress, a stable, long-standing theme that is compatible with most plugins.
The LifterLMS development team is developing a new framework called Lifter Launchpad, a base theme framework for developers to customize to create amazing WordPress learning management system themes. Beyond themes, they are also near completion on a new web application for your online courses.
Our LifterLMS course development platform design and functionality are consistently updated and expanded to help you build your courses using a variety of methods and resources, including progressive, versatile WordPress LMS themes that work with WP learning management system plugins. Try a demo of LifterLMS for free and see for yourself what it can do for you.
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And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.
Joshua Millage: Hello, Everyone. We’re back with another episode of LMScast. I’m Joshua Millage, and I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett. Today, we are talking about WordPress LMS themes that work with WordPress learning management system plugins. Chris, my first question is there’s some themes out there that act as learning management systems, and then there’s some plugins that need a theme to kind of operate. Can you kind of give us the landscape of what’s going on in the WordPress learning management space here?
Chris Badgett: Totally. At the highest level, one of our earlier YouTube videos with our lead developer Mark, we talked about WordPress LMS themes and plugins, and I was looking at it, and that video actually has a lot of interest, a lot of people really engage, and it gets more views and so on. So it’s a big question on people’s mind, and at the highest level what it’s all about is the theme is there more for design and layout, and the plugin is a better suited tool for bringing functionality to a web property. That’s why, like on a place like ThemeForest, you’ll often hear people in the WordPress community saying things like, “There’s a theme arms race going on,” where they’re stuffing all these themes with all this functionality and demo content with these crazy graphics and scantily clad women just to kind of sell the theme.
We’re kind of getting away from the core of what the theme really is. It’s really just a framework for design, and the plugin … the reason it’s called a plugin is you’re plugging in the additional functionality pieces you need, so we intentionally with our learning management system plugin LifterLMS took a little bit longer road. We know the market gets really excited about themes, but we wanted to do the right thing and bring all our amazing functionality into the plugin so that it could then work with anything.
Joshua Millage: Yeah, that’s really good. That’s really good, because I think that there’s a lot of disadvantages when you buy a theme that has application style functionality in it in terms of the ability to expand and really just manage it, you know. Things are not where they’re supposed to be from a development perspective, and so, I think it makes things pretty interesting. What we’re doing and how we’ve approached this is we’ve created a learning management system plugin, LifterLMS, and then we’re currently working on a theme that will be out that people will be able to download and use, and it will sync up. You’ve got your theme covering all the design that matches with the plugin’s functionality, so it’s a much cleaner way of organizing your system and gives you the ability later down the road if you want to switch themes and do something else. You can just simply switch the theme. You’re not locked into it for the long term.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. To give a great example, there’s a company you all may have heard of in the WordPress community called WooThemes. They recently got acquired by Automattic. We sometimes recommend, depending to the person, that they use the Canvas theme by WooThemes and then plug in LifterLMS. Now, WooThemes also has their own learning management systems plugin called Sensei, but that doesn’t mean that our plugin won’t work with their theme. The reason we recommend Woo Canvas plus LifterLMS is that the Canvas theme does a great job of just being a theme. It gives you all kinds of theme options in the back end where a non-developer can go in there, select from hundreds of fonts and typography for headings and navigation menu things, change the layouts, squeeze the site down, make it wider, make it have a background, not have a background, make it be in a container or not, do four columns in the footer or six columns or no columns. It just gives you all that great theme functionality at your fingertips without having to be a developer.
When you plug in something like LifterLMS, you can build a really powerful, beautiful, custom learning management system without touching a single line of code, and that’s one of the reasons we sometimes steer people towards that.
Joshua Millage: Yeah, it’s a great theme for managing for your whole site really. I mean, there’s so much you can do with it. The other one that we recommend is the Genesis framework over by StudioPress. It’s a pretty solid framework and theme that’s been around for quite some time now, but I mean, it’s built to work with all the major themes out there. It’s kind of theme agnostic to the best of our abilities; however, there’s millions if not more themes, and so it’s hard to say that we’re compatible with all of them, because it’s simply impossible to test on all of them. One of the things that I personally have taken on is a thing that we’re going to be releasing that really is going to allow you to create a web application. It feels much more like a web application than it does a website with courses, and that’s something that I’m really excited to release to the world hopefully whenever we syndicate this episode, it will be close to being done. We’ll make sure to put a link in the footer there to it.
Chris Badgett: If I may drop another spoiler alert, behind the scenes we’re also developing something that we’re calling Lifter Launchpad, which is sort of like a base theme framework that other theme developers can come in, take our starter framework if you will, then build their custom theme that will look great with LifterLMS, so we’re really wanting to get into the WordPress community and open up a business opportunity to other theme shops and theme developers that want to build a learning management system theme, really focusing on that design. Let Lifter do the heavy lifting for the functionality and build some amazing WordPress learning management system themes.
Joshua Millage: Yeah, absolutely. We don’t want to be a theme shop. We want to be a plugin shop, but we want to make it easy for theme shops to come in an build their own, which will be really exciting. Cool, well you can reach us both over at LifterLMS.com if you have any more questions, and if you’d like, you can come back and comment on this episode over at LMScast.com. Chris, do you have any final thoughts for the crew?
Chris Badgett: I just want to ask if you guys enjoy this show. We’d really appreciate if you’d leave a review or give us some honest review or a four, five, one star on iTunes, something. Just let us know what you’re thinking. It motivates us to make more of these episodes.
Joshua Millage: Yeah and that also definitely helps our ranking too, so we’d appreciate it. All right, well until next time. We’ll talk to you soon.