What are WordPress Themes?
Themes are appearances and layouts built for your WordPress site. WordPress comes installed with some default themes. The latest being Twenty Twenty One. These themes have limited functionality and are typically meant for simple blog layouts.
Throughout the years, developers have developed different themes to meet specific needs. They provide appearance, layouts and customisation functionality to support specific types of websites such as Wiki, knowledge base, e-commerce storefront, online learning sites etc.
What are LearnDash Themes?
In our list of recommendations, you will find WordPress themes that have been developed specifically for online learning and compatible with LearnDash.
In addition to the list are customisable WordPress themes. These themes don’t support a specific type of functionality. Instead, they provide you with features that allow you to customise website appearance and layout. While they are not developed specifically for LearnDash, they are still integrated and compatible. They also offer pre-built customised layouts and features that support online learning and LearnDash websites.
Which type of theme should I choose for LearnDash?
If you require a site with a layout that is similar to popular and mainstream online learning sites, then a theme that supports this specific functionality should be sufficient. Such themes typically support not only the standard eLearning site layout but may also provide additional features.
If you have niche design and layout requirements for your online learning WordPress site, then a customisable WordPress theme is likely the recommended solution. For example, my online learning site LearnSkewl caters specifically to young students under 12. Using a theme that supports a standard online layout like Udemy is for my target audience as they require a layout that is simple and allows them to only focus on their online activities. In this instance, I have found a customisable WordPress theme to be more suitable.
Available LearnDash Themes
The University Education theme is suitable for those who intend to operate an education or training centre web site that runs courses and events.
The theme allows you to set up your site with the following types of pre-built layout pages:
- Lists the Latest News and Updates occurring at your organisation
- List courses in the following layouts
- Course Grid, List, Table
- List events in the following layouts:
- Event Grid, Event Calendar, Carousel
Besides integrating with the WordPress forum plugin bbPress and the community plugin BuddyPress.
It offers different layouts for page and blog posts and comes with the Page Builder Visual Composer, allowing you to easily edit pages.
If you have WooCommerce installed, it comes with a layout to help you list your course products.
The theme is currently sold on Envato at USD 49. Based on its last update date, it appears that the plugin is regularly updated, which is good. The item also has an average 4.5 rating out of 5 on Envato.
The eLumine WordPress LearnDash theme was developed specifically for the LMS. The theme developers are also involved in developing LearnDash plugins. Hence, you can expect the theme to be well integrated with LearnDash.
With eLumine, you can download pre-built site pages that fit different online learning use cases. The advantage of this theme is that everything is customised specifically for LearnDash.
Here are the different pre-built use cases that eLumine has to offer:
- Multiple courses online course site
- School site that caters to multiple online courses and multiple instructors
- Single Instructor online course site
Each of the different pre-built templates, offer clean and organised course layout design. In addition, there is a theme customiser that allows you to easily change site colour, text and headers.
The layouts provided by the theme focus on simplicity so that there is minimal distraction to the learner. The theme also integrates with the community plugin BuddyPress and offers customised layouts and templates that enhance the look and feel of your BuddyPress pages. You will also be able to enable personalised student profile pages that display badges, achievements.
The theme also integrates with various other WordPress Plugins such as:
- bbPress forums
- Page Builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer
- Leading form plugins such as Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms
- BadgeOS WordPress badges plugin which allows you to easily display learner badges that they earn for completing courses
ELumine is priced at USD 100 for an annual license per site. The annual license allows you to get regular updates and dedicated support.
Astra is a customisable WordPress theme that is extensively integrated with LearnDash. As it is a customisable theme plugin, you are provided with design freedom and control.
Control the design and layout of your site
Besides getting access to pre-built layouts and templates, you can create your own professional looking LearnDash layouts that integrate with your overall site branding. You are able to customise and control all design elements without coding.
Get started easily with pre-built starter templates
Astra offers pre-built starter templates that can get you started rapidly. Download from their library of templates and tweak it to your needs and content.
Control and customise the look and feel
Astra’s customiser allows you to many elements of your site’s appearance. You can control fonts, header and footers, typography, site width and much more.
Extensive Colour and Typography options
When customising colours and typography, you are provided with numerous options. You can change colour schemes, select different font types, sizes and weights.
Set Distraction-Free Learning
Distractions on a web page can impact a learner’s progress. When you enable Astra’s distraction-free feature on a page, it removes unneeded links from your website’s header and footer.
Astra is priced at USD $59 per year for the Pro license. Astra sometimes runs offers that provide up to 30% discount.
With the Pro license, you get access to all the features, the pre-built templates and usage on unlimited websites.
BuddyBoss is a theme built on top of BuddyPress and LearnDash with extensive integration to popular WordPress LearnDash plugins (you will need to install these additional plugins).
The theme’s in-built layouts and integration, you can create a well designed advanced online learning site that incorporates social network engagement, gamification, membership and community elements.
Without this theme, you would have to customise your own layouts to ensure that all these different plugins and well-integrated into your overall site design.
So what does the theme offer?
A beautiful and intuitive user experience. With LearnDash and BuddyBoss installed, you will be able to have beautiful member profiles, activity feeds and an excellent user interface for LearnDash courses.
The interface provides beautiful course grids, layouts and pages.
BuddyBoss allows one to create social groups and you can integrate these groups with LearnDash groups to enable an online classroom environment where you have teachers and students.
You can also add a course and certificate profile to member profiles.
If you have installed a gamification plugin such as GamiPress installed, you will be able to display badges and points on your profile pages and activity feeds.
You can also enable Zoom meetings on your site.
There are many plugins that BuddyBoss integrates with and allows you to tap these features and maintain a good user experience.
BuddyBoss costs USD $205 (billed annually) for 1 site, USD $259 for 5 sites and USD $295 for 10 sites.
Which LearnDash Theme should you use?
Just give me the standard layout and professional looking design
If all you want is a layout that is optimised for the screen, well-designed and a user experience that is found in standard online course websites, then WordPress themes like eLumine and University Education are suitable options.
The themes are compatible with LearnDash and come with pre-built layouts that you can easily implement. They are still customisable but not to the extent of Astra.
I want to build an advanced online learning community site
If you are looking to build a site with various learning and social features and are willing to invest in the additional plugins to implement these features, BuddyBoss is likely to be your go-to theme.
While you can use a customisable theme like Astra to implement these features into your site, it is going to take time and some work to customise your layouts to deliver a good user experience.
BuddyBoss does all that for you. It’s in-built layouts and extensive integration with 3rd party plugins ensure that a premium and consistent user experience is maintained when you enable these added features.
I want a customised layout and theme that meets my target audience needs
If you don’t need community learning features but still require a user experience that does not follow the standard online course site, Astra will be the recommended solution.
Astra allows you to implement professional-looking online learning layouts that are compatible with LearnDash. You can customise them to meet your design needs and create a user experience that caters to your target audience.
For example, if your target audience is primary school children, you can easily customise a distraction-free minimalistic design by modifying the layout, sidebars, headers and footers to ensure your young audience only needs to navigate through simple options.