How to Develop an Educational Website: The Comprehensive Guidelines
24 min read
- 1. Educational Market Brief Overview
- 2. Why Should You Create an Educational Website?
- 3. Choosing Between the Customize Educational Website or Website Builder
- 4. Must-have Features of the Educational Website
- 5. Advanced Features of the Educational Website
- 6. How Does an Education Website Make Money?
- 7. Challenges You May Face When Start an Educational Website
- 8. Tech Stack To Make an Educational Website
- 9. 8 Steps How to Develop an Educational Website
- 10. How Much Does It Cost To Build an Education Website?
- 11. Our Experience in Building an Educational Website
- 12. Conclusion
If you are an educational institution representative, an employee of a corporate training department, or a startup owner in the field of e-learning, then you are engaged in one of the most profitable and promising businesses in 2021 according to the source.
The E-learning development boom was provoked by the Internet spreading, globalization, and the technological progress acceleration; and factors that no one expected to occur - this is the Covid-19 pandemic with all the ensuing consequences, including quarantine, remote work, and learning.
If you haven’t made your own educational website yet, it’s high time, because Globe News Wire estimated the online education market will reach $374.3 billion between 2021 and 2026 at a CAGR of 14.6%.
But first, let’s take a look at global prevailing educational market trends, to help you define a niche to develop your e-learning app.
This is a new trend in the e-learning industry that is becoming more and more popular.
An overabundance of information and the formation of the so-called “clip” thinking, persuade people to consume educational content in small portions. Our brain is much more efficient at memorizing a small amount of information. Material from long lessons is absorbed worse than material from short-duration lessons.
As a result, we can see statistics data. According to the source, about 95% of educational experts choose to teach using microlearning because such conditions are dictated by the demand among clients.
This trend is associated with the previous one and its development is largely provoked by the convenience of use.
If you already have an e-learning site - it’s time to make an application to involve more customers and increase profit.
The majority of people in the millennial generation (about 90%), according to the source, practically don’t let their smartphones out of hands.
This data is from US research, but these trends are relevant for other regions as well.
Today, the telephone is much more than just a call device, and this fact affected the educational business.
According to Globe News Wire, mobile learning is the most promising and rapidly growing offshoot in the industry. It is growing at an annual rate of 20% and is expected to reach $80.1 billion by 2027.
According to the source, the top 10 learning software list includes such products as Linkedin Learning, Udemy, Coursera, edX, Duolingo. All of them are LMS or MOOCs based on LMS. Is there more compelling evidence that this trend is definitely worth taking on board?
Cloud-based educational software
As we have mentioned above, one of the most popular types of educational applications is Learning Management Systems. But recently, the switching to cloud-based e-learning apps is gaining momentum. This trend is mostly popular in North America and European countries.
And in these regions, studying and teaching sciences related to medicine and health is gaining popularity. This trend refers to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
If your eLearning project lies in the medicine & health side and North America is one of your target markets - take this trend and go ahead.
Rich investment outlook
The upward trend in e-learning investment is also relevant for 2021. More and more foundations, venture capital, and government organizations are interested in this area and are investing millions of dollars in it.
So, according to the source, the largest financial contribution to the edTech sector in the United States for 2021 amounted to more than $500 and a half million.
As for the regions of the Middle East and Africa, according to Global Market Insights, one can count on a serious financial interest from the government, which is actively investing in the development of online learning.
Don’t forget about commercial organizations and companies - Business Wire claims that the corporate education market will grow by $38 billion over the next 4 years.
In a rapidly evolving technology and fast-moving world, workers need to be continuously trained in order to remain in demand in the labor market. The same applies to companies - to remain employees in the team, just a good salary isn’t enough, people want constant professional growth and interesting projects to stay motivated.
If you represent a future-oriented company, investing in development, training, innovation, then by deciding to create your own educational website, you’ll increase employee loyalty, motivation level, and competence.
Wide range of business models
The e-learning industry is represented by a huge number of application types and websites, with various functions, directions, and including a large number of monetization models. You can use any or even combine several at once!
Huge demand with an upward trend
It’s no secret that e-learning is convenient and safe in terms of quarantine. But there are some other reasons that push people to choose online education.
First, it’s a flexible schedule, which implies a more emotionally safe and comfortable environment for students; People can study from anywhere at any convenient time. Secondly, it’s cheaper than traditional face-to-face training. Thirdly, it’s more eco-friendly, because you don’t need to use paper books, notebooks, get to class by transport, etc.
Provide users with access to your content where they consume it most (mobile phone) - and you’ll get additional consumers, increasing your course’s popularity and recognition.
At first glance, using a website builder to create an education website sounds like a tempting idea.
Firstly, it’s faster - since you need to use a ready-made solution and only customize it for yourself, not creating everything from scratch; secondly, it’s easier - after all, you don’t need to be an expert in programming languages, methodology, and other technical issues; thirdly, this option is significantly cheaper - after all, you don’t need to hire a team of software engineers, pay and track their work.
But there are some possibilities that custom site development gives and that the site builder cannot provide, namely:
- Advanced SEO tools. Promotion is critical to even the very best products. Using the site builder, you’ll be limited in the use of tags, since you won’t be able to edit the codebase itself; and this means that Google’s search engine will show your site to users less than once and a huge number of potential customers will never become real.
- Optimization. What if your site becomes slow? If you don’t have access to edit the code, you won’t be able to optimize, and you will lose clients since no one likes to wait for a page to load.
- Custom design tools. Custom development from scratch gives you the ability to make your site unique and stand out from the rest. Whereas using a website builder will allow you to make a maximum of one of the thousands of standard pages.
- Unlimited expansion prospects. What if you want to expand the project, or, for example, change its concept, export it to other resources? With the site builder, your hands are tied. Eventually, you’ll have to start all over again, getting into a situation when a miser pays twice.
To summarize, the site builder is a good solution for simple tiny projects that aren’t planned to be expanded and developed in the future. But for larger products, for example, platforms of an international scale with a large audience, complex functionality, this is not enough. Because in this case, you need to control the development of your product, be able to optimize and customize it, change and expand it if necessary, not to mention e-learning marketplace applications, where you need at least an advanced admin system with a super admin level.
For a more detailed understanding of the pros and cons of both solutions, you can use the table below.
|Custom development||Website builder|
|Quick to develop||-||+|
|Ease of use||-||+|
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It must meet two main requirements. First, it must be comfortable. Therefore, your task is to make a contemporary modern design and an intuitive interface. Second, the account must be useful and efficient. The more features the better; at least users should be able to track progress, review and manage their purchases.
If you want to create a teaching website with minimal functionality, for example, an elementary application with courses or an online classroom, then a simple admin panel will be enough - the main thing is that it works properly, is intuitively understandable, and is not too difficult. But if we are talking about a large marketplace application like Udemy, then we’ll have to work on a super admin panel with different access levels and a complex control system.
Video Conferencing tools
This is a basic feature for e-classroom applications. You can link services like Zoom or Google Meets. It will be great if the user can choose the appropriate service and pull up data from social networks.
The number of people willing to pay for your service will decrease dramatically if this process is inconvenient and complicated. Provide support for as many payment services as possible. Take into account the peculiarities of the target audience region - first of all, connect the most popular services.
You are unlikely to improve the application and meet the users’ needs effectively without it. Provide them with the opportunity to rate courses/materials/instructors, and write their own impressions. This, by the way, will serve as an additional marketing tool for the marketplace application. Other students’ positive experience is a pretty strong incentive to buy a training product. Feedback also serves as the basis for the Build-Measure-Learn cycle.
A long and tedious search for the right product, especially on large resources such as MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), discourages any desire to learn. Design a search engine with filters, categories, variable item sorting methods, and ratings so students can find the content they are looking for faster and easier.
To keep distance education as effective as offline learning, provide feedback between student and teacher and within the student community. Create modules with chats, provide users with the ability to attach video-photo audio files, and also you can add stickers there (it’s especially cool if they are animated).
How to make an educational website more profitable for students, and increase the effectiveness of classes? Homework is the best answer. It’ll allow students to learn more material and consolidate knowledge in practice. You can add quizzes, problem-solving and word repetition modules, various exercises, and videos. The more interactivity, the more your product will stand out among the competitors.
This feature applies primarily to large marketplaces. Qualified, motivated authors would rather choose a resource where they can make their course as unique and interesting as possible. It will play into your hands - firstly, you’ll increase the quality of knowledge, and secondly, you’ll attract more interested audience.
To implement this, various plugins are usually used at the development stage. So, for example, you can create a code highlighting feature for programming courses, or make auto-translation for videos in language courses.
Gamification is a great way to engage the student into the learning process. Use mini-games, pop-ups, animations, and other interactive elements to make learning in your application not only effective but also entertaining.
Don’t make the user feel confused - provide him with the ability to link Facebook/Instagram or other social network accounts, with the help of autofill data, you’ll make registration and login to the user account much faster and easier, which will be an additional plus to the user experience. And this, in turn, will affect resource monetization.
Pop-ups with offers, course selections based on feedback, users’ previous purchases, discount programs - use all these tools to increase the conversion of users and the attractiveness of your resource for authors.
This is not only about ordinary consumer donations, of course. The main sources of financing under this model are funds invested by foundations, non-commercial organizations.
The prospects here are unlimited, as more and more investors are interested in the field of e-learning. Some of the most active are venture capitalists such as CRV, Andreessen Horowitz, Blume Ventures, Learn Capital, and others.
This method of monetization consists that for an additional payment the client can receive extra benefits - additional lessons, materials for more in-depth study, advanced courses, wider functionality, etc.
The student pays for a subscription on a regular basis and thus gains access to the courses. This is beneficial since the owner’s product receives stable funding, plus you can combine this model with others (for example, provide additional materials and functions for an extra fee).
Educational resources can provide a part or all the materials for free, but the user must pay if he wants to receive a certificate of completion.
This is an up-to-date business model if you want to create a dynamic website for an educational institution, or if your application is being built with the participation of universities.
Thus, students gain access to university-level education, and the certificates will have a practical use, particularly, in employment.
Corporate learning offers
Progress doesn’t stand still, and in order to remain relevant, you need to improve your skills constantly. Therefore, corporations around the world need continuous training for their employees.
According to the source, training employees increases their productivity more than upgrading equipment.
A study by the Association for Talent Development mentions that companies using corporate training programs increase revenues by 24% compared to businesses that don’t invest in employee education.
Offer favorable conditions for business - and get a huge number of users at once! For you as an eLearning entrepreneur, this means more stable earnings and good promotion.
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Lack of scoping
This can be critical in terms of budget and time losses.
It’s better to decide in advance what the basic concept of your application or website will be. How complex and large-scale in perspective you want your product to be. Because in order to design and develop a simple website for an online education system, especially if we are talking about a small number of users, a simple admin system is enough for you. You won’t need powerful servers, a multi-level management system. Whereas the creation of a large marketplace platform will require all this, as well as advanced features like a sophisticated search engine and customizable functions for courses. So think about the development in advance to make the project flexible to modifications and expansion. Otherwise, you may face a situation when you have to start all over again, from scratch.
Yes, in the field of online learning, the demand is huge. But you shouldn’t discount the competition either. You can be 100% sure that your product is innovative, relevant, and unique, while similar solutions will already exist on the market. And then your idea will never be successful.
To avoid this, take a responsible approach to the stage of market and competitor analysis, resort to expert advice and various analysis services.
In addition, this risk factor is also eliminated by using the MVP stage. So, you’ll invest a minimum budget in the implementation of a simplified version of the product, quickly get the first buyers and investments, and most importantly, you’ll immediately start receiving feedback - the best basis for improvement of your platform.
Be careful when choosing a development company to implement your business idea:
- Amateurs may not know all the frequently encountered challenges in creating e-learning platforms, while professionals can advise you on what to expect and how to avoid problems;
- Professional teams usually work with their own code style and know exactly which tech stack to choose. Thus, your site will be easily scalable and changeable, and the code will be easily understandable;
- Experienced companies can provide qualified digital consulting. As a rule, they know the market conditions well, understand technology, and trends. They are also more confident due to their rich experience, so they can take initiative in work, even if you don’t understand something or have doubts.
- A skilled team will be able to continue working with your project not only at the MVP stage but also in case of expansion to an international large project. They have enough expertise to support the education platform and expand it worldwide;
- By hiring more qualified engineers, you can use more advanced technologies and features for your idea. An inexperienced team is unlikely to cope well with unfamiliar solutions, as a result of which you may miss deadlines or even have to change the development company.
- A correct estimation is also a sign of the developers’ professionalism. The expertise in this matter may depend on the task timelines, delays, budget overshoots, and other unpleasant moments that can be avoided by hiring experienced agencies.
Wrong choice of methodology
Besides choosing the right technologies, a methodology is another key to understanding how to develop educational websites without delays, and with optimal value for money. Thus, it depends on the methodology of how effective communication is within the team.
One of the most widespread methodologies is Scrum, Agile. They allow you to streamline all work processes. So, the entire scope of work is divided into stages - milestones, which are performed in sprints one after another, and between these iterations, planning, and analysis of the work done, and error processing are carried out.
Comfort and safety
An easy-to-use application is in high demand. If you want to attract more students - make a user-friendly interface, the function of linking accounts in social networks and auto-filling data; connect as many payment services popular in your region as possible.
To get your students and instructors willing to sign up on your platform, make sure they trust it. This means you need to take care of the security of both the users’ personal data and the observance of copyright for the content. For this, you can use SSL certificates, multi-factor authentication, as well as watermarking, encryption.
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Choosing the right stack is an answer on how to create a website for education without delays, with an optimized budget, and on time.
We have collected some tips based on our own experience on which technologies are best suitable depending on the type of software and its main concept.
React has established itself as the most flexible, uncluttered technology with great community support. It’s the best value for money solution, perfect for developing websites. If you are building a mobile app, using React Native is similarly perfect.
Because eLearning software development doesn’t imply super-complex features such as geolocators, 3D animations, and native modules, for the development of which a native stack is usually used (Java and Swift).
Quizzes, chats, texts, and videos, which are most often implemented in educational applications, can be easily and quickly done using React Native. Unacademy is a vivid example of a successful product developed using this technology. It’s India’s largest online education platform with 50+ active learners.
Node.js, bundled with the NestJS framework - this is the technology that will allow you to start the product implementation process very quickly and easily. It will be easy and convenient to adjust the development, due to its flexibility in modifications and the absence of problems with overloading.
Here, start from what is more critical for you - the privacy of users’ personal data, or speed and flexibility. In the first case, it’s better to use relational databases such as PostgreSQL. In the second, non-relational databases like MongoDB would be more suitable.
We mostly use AWS. Since this cloud system is the largest one, and it’s very startup-friendly, it also provides hundreds of different services that can cover any needs and tasks.
For beginner projects, AWS suggests a loyalty program - through which you can get a one-year free subscription.
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1. Turning a crude idea into a clear plan
Initially, you need to understand what exactly you are going to deal with.
Determine what the main concept and goal of your project will be, what kind of software you create (mobile application, website, cross-platform software, etc.). State this in detail on paper - based on this information, documentation with requirements will be formed and further stages of implementation will be built.
2. Analysis and consulting
A product is doomed to fail if it doesn’t meet the needs of its target audience. You need to understand what your users are missing, and which needs are already covered by existing solutions on the market.
Conduct an analysis of competitors to find their weak points, which will become a growth zone for you.
Of course, you can do it yourself, using services like Google Analytics, Statista, SiteProfiler. But there is another option - to order consulting from skillful professionals. Then you can take into account all the risk factors, think over your idea in more detail, and get an approximate forecast regarding budget costs and time frames.
3. Content creation
Speaking about how to build an educational website, one cannot fail to mention a basic step as filling with content.
It’s important to consider the concept of the application/website here - whether you’re going to sell amateur courses without worrying about accreditation, or your goal is to provide university-level knowledge. In the second case, you’ll have to enter into cooperation with educational institutions, find pro teachers. Of course, it can be troublesome, but such educational products will bring more profit.
4. Determine the work plan: MVP milestones and features
The next step will be detailed planning of work.
You need to divide the entire volume into parts - milestones, which will be implemented in turn one by one.
All features must be written on paper and divided according to the degree of importance into basic and additional ones.
Of course, doing this should be based on the material obtained after analyzing the market and competitors. Here, complex digital consulting will be very useful to you, since together with analytics professionals will conduct a preliminary estimate and help you reasonably divide the functions, determining which of them are absolutely obligatory, and the implementation of which you can postpone.
5. Design and prototyping
This step is required to obtain a raw image of the product. It’s much easier to work when you have an image of the final result in your head.
Therefore, you’ll need experts to create relevant, well-thought-out design and prototypes.
So, not only you and the development team can get an idea of the future educational platform, but also your potential investors.
And this is an additional advantage in terms of raising funding, especially relevant for small startups, as it makes the possibilities for expanding the project more promising.
6. Implementation and testing
Here are some tips about the most laborious and time-consuming step when developing an educational website:
To optimize your time and funding, think about your technology stack in advance and choose a methodology that works best for your product type and market conditions.
Methods such as Scrum, Agile are some of the most popular and widespread. The total amount of work is divided into milestones, which are processed one by one by sprints.
First, the sprint is planned, then the work is conducted, then the analysis of the work is performed, and then the next iteration starts.
Don’t forget to test your product. It’s more important than it might initially appear. It will be better to test the product at all stages of development, not just after deployment/launch.
At this stage, as well as during development, the correct choice of the stack and methodology doesn’t lose its relevance. It would be good to use methods like CI/CD, thanks to which the customer is instantly notified of all updates and can quickly make adjustments if necessary.
After the MVP is launched on the market, the work on the project doesn’t end.
In addition to support and bug-fixing, you should continue collecting feedback, improving the platform’s functionality as part of the Build-Measure-Learn cycle. With each new iteration, the software will become more thoughtful and in demand among clients, attract new investments, and increase the scale.
As we already mentioned, the MVP stage is a great solution how to create an educational website without risking losing a lot of budget and time in case of failure, but this doesn’t mean that this product should be worth a penny.
It’s not a prototype, but a working version of a product with a minimal set of features that are most significant from a concept point of view.
The average cost of its development is approximately 50% of the cost of a full-scale project.
Full-scale product cost
Our professionals have made analytics about educational websites costs. It shows that building a training platform usually starts at $20,000 USD and can be up to $100,000.
But you need to understand that the spread is large, and this is due to the fact that pricing depends on many factors: the project scale, how numerous and advanced the application features, how complex or simple technologies are. It’s clear that the creation of elementary web pages for the local market doesn’t need cutting-edge technology solutions, extra powerful servers, and so on. Whereas large projects are much more time-consuming and expensive.
To get a more specific price forecast for your business idea, it’s better to discuss it with specialists in detail at an individual consultation.
Underestimating promotion is a crucial mistake. It doesn’t matter how unique and high-quality your product is - it can fail due to a lack of promotion.
The average check for a promotion is approximately $10,000. But, as with the rest of the points, it can vary greatly depending on your goals and the scale of the learning platform.
This is also an important pricing factor. It’s clear that an extra-low price tag often indicates the low professionalism of the developer or lack of experience.
But this doesn’t mean that more expensive in 100% of cases is better.
It’s important to take into account the localization factor here: the highest rates - about $70/hour, are for engineers from the USA and Great Britain. Whereas programmers from Asian and Eastern European countries work at a rate 2-3 times lower. This difference is conditioned by factors such as the education level in the region; the degree of development of the IT industry; the availability of large domestic software products.
Thus, by hiring programmers from Ukraine, for example, you’ll get proficient web development services with great value for money. The level of IT education in Ukraine is high but there exists a lack of large domestic projects.
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It’s a Singapore-based company that came to us with the idea of creating an educational product that would help them take part in improving the outdated school system.
Our task was to build an education website that would work as a career emulator for kids.
We had a few months to complete the project, so the initial idea of creating a mobile application was changed to the web application format.
Our developers have developed an advanced admin system that allows teachers to customize the lesson, set certain parameters, and analyze the results after the game session.
As a result, we finished the project before the deadlines - in 3 months, saving 40% of the client’s budget (compared to hiring local vendors).
The game itself has a user interface, in-game purchases, a grading system, quizzes, the ability to improve skills, track progress, as well as community and online learning features.
At the moment, we keep cooperating with Avid Adventures, now it’s already a large international platform, where 500 players take part in one game session. It attracts investment and interest from large private and government organizations: in particular, the US State Department, which introduced this product into the national educational program.
This is a game we created for a Malaysian company specializing in teaching kids programming and mathematics.
The idea was to gamify math learning to maximize children’s engagement.
All teaching material was divided into topics (Algebra, Probability theory, Geometry, Functions, Vectors, and so on), after which the students had to go through several quizzes (usually 10-15) to consolidate their knowledge.
To stimulate kids even more, we have developed an in-game rating reward system, as well as an online competitive play mode.
This project implementation took 4 months and now the game has been successfully launched on iOS and Android platforms.
So, we’ve reviewed the main trends and conditions of the current e-learning market. We found that this is one of the most fast-growing industries, which will maintain its development pace in the coming years.
- When deciding to start your own business in this niche, pay attention to trends such as micro-learning, cloud-based software, and mobile apps.
- The main benefits that product owners receive in learning business are huge investments with an upward trend, huge consumer demand, instant relevance, and a wide range of business models with the ability to combine them.
- You can use a site builder or create an e-learning platform from scratch with the participation of engineers and designers. The first option makes it possible to create educational websites free either at a minimal cost, but this is not suitable for large projects, since you’ll have very limited opportunities to modify, expand a ready-made solution.
- When asked how to start an educational website, we have covered 8 basic steps and the main challenges along the way. Remember that detailed planning, deliberate choice of stack and methodology, and good promotion are just as important as quality development.
Creating learning software is a great profitable idea, but it needs to be taken wisely.
The best choice would be to think over everything in detail and get digital consulting in advance. Then, if you take into account all the recommendations and choose a reliable technical partner, your business idea is doomed to success!