We recently analyzed 240K WordPress LMS websites to determine what technology they use.
We looked at the LMS plugins, page builders, website themes, eCommerce solutions, and even their tech spending.
With the help of our data partner BuiltWith, we uncovered some interesting findings, which we’ll share with you in this article.
Our Key Findings
- LearnDash is the most popular WordPress LMS plugin with over 34% market share, followed by LearnPress (31%) and Tutor LMS (19%).
- 41.3% of course websites spend less than $50 per month on their tech stack, while 34.9% have a monthly tech spend between $50 and $250.
- WooCommerce is used by over 65% of websites, making it the unchallenged winner among the eCommerce plugins used on LMS websites.
- More than 90% of the websites use a page builder, while Elementor leads the pack with a 57.5% share.
- Among the WordPress themes, Astra was detected on 19% of the websites, closely followed by Divi (9.1%).
- LMS-specific solutions have a big market as well. For example, BuddyBoss is used on 13.1% of LearnDash sites, while Tutor LMS Elementor Addons is used by 26.5% of Tutor LMS sites.
How We Conducted the Study
To conduct this study, we considered the eight most popular WordPress LMS plugins and included only the websites using one of them. The plugins include:
- Tutor LMS
- MasterStudy LMS
- Lifter LMS
- Sensei LMS
- WP Courseware
We accessed the list of all the course websites using these plugins with the help of BuiltWith, which included around 240K websites. The data was pulled in early October 2022.
We then looked at the tech profile of each website to see what solutions they use and analyzed the data to gather insights about the most popular choices among course creators.
WordPress LMS Plugins Battle
One of the most important questions a course creator has to answer is what LMS plugin to use.
Based on our analysis, 83,415 course websites use LearnDash as their WordPress LMS plugin, making it the market leader with a share of 34.8%.
The next most popular LMS plugin options are LearnPress, used by 74,379 websites (31%), and Tutor LMS, used by 45,623 websites (19%).
The remaining websites use MasterStudy LMS (4.9%), Lifter LMS (4.2%), Sensei LMS (3.7%), WP Courseware (1.9%), and AccessAlly (0.4%).
To better understand these usage patterns, we looked further into the websites with a high technology spend (>$250/month) and those with a low spend (<$50/month).
Among the websites with a high tech spend, LearnDash controls an even bigger market share of 60.3%.
This isn’t surprising, as LearnDash is used by the biggest names in the industry, including Yoast, the University of Florida, and DigitalMarketer.
For the low tech spend category, instead, we found that 97.8% of websites use an LMS plugin that offers a free version. The leaders in this category are LearnPress (50%) and Tutor LMS (28.8%).
On the other hand, plugins like LearnDash, WP Courseware, and AccessAlly—which don’t offer a free version—have a market share of slightly more than 2%.
This makes sense since most course creators just starting out want to minimize their expenses.
The Tech Spend
Another common question that webmasters have is how much course websites spend on their technology stack.
To answer this, we looked at the monthly tech spend of individual websites and found that 41.3% spend less than $50, 34.9% spend between $50 and $250, and only 23.8% spend more than $250 per month.
We also tried to see if there was a correlation between a website’s monthly tech spend and its monthly revenue, and there seems to be a reasonably strong correlation.
Specifically, among the websites with monthly revenue of less than $1k, only 11.9% of them have a monthly tech spend of more than $50. However, for websites making $1k-$5k per month, the number increases to 60% and hits 89.7% for websites making more than $5k a month.
Based on this data, it’s safe to say that WordPress LMS websites with higher monthly revenues are also likely to have a higher tech spend.
The Undoubted eCommerce Champion
Another point of interest for our study was to see what eCommerce plugins were used by these WordPress sites. Undoubtedly, WooCommerce emerged as the unchallenged winner.
Of all the websites that use LMS plugins, 65.3%—or 156,562 of them—use WooCommerce as their shopping cart solution.
While some websites also use other cart solutions, such as Easy Digital Downloads and SamCart, their share is pretty low.
Moreover, WooCommerce’s usage varies based on what LMS plugin the website uses. For example, 77.5% of Tutor LMS websites use WooCommerce, while only 20.7% of AccessAlly websites use the plugin.
This variance can be explained by the fact that AccessAlly has solid built-in checkout features and payment gateway integrations, while Tutor LMS doesn’t.
Popular Page Builders
When looking at the tech profile of these WordPress LMS websites, page builders were another point of interest.
In our analysis, Elementor emerged as the first choice of course creators since 137,859 (57.5%) websites use it. Other popular page builders include WPBakery (17.6%) and Visual Composer (17.2%).
Just these three page builders are used by 90% of the websites, but it’s hardly surprising. After all, this is the era of page builders!
In fact, WordPress LMS plugins have few design customization options and mostly rely on their integrations with popular page builders to allow users to customize all aspects of their course websites.
Another interesting thing we found is that 53.7% of the Elementor websites we analyzed use Elementor Pro, which is the premium version of the page builder.
Themes Powering LMS Websites
Another critical aspect of any WordPress website is the site theme.
In this regard, Astra is the clear winner, with a 19% market share. It is also the leading LearnDash theme, with a market share of 29.7%.
Divi and Hello Elementor, instead, are used by 9.1% and 5.9% of the LMS websites, respectively.
While Astra and Divi are among the most popular themes out there, Hello Elementor piggybacked on the popularity of Elementor, gaining a significant market share.
Overall, the market of WordPress themes is fragmented—much more than LMS plugins or page builders. This is because, comparatively, there are many more options for themes.
Other popular theme options—including Kadence, GeneratePress, Thrive Themes, and more—all have single-digit market shares.
Another interesting thing we noticed is that specialized themes command a much higher market share for individual LMS plugins. Here are some examples:
- BuddyBoss is used by 13.1% of LearnDash sites.
- Eduma is used by 22.7% of LearnPress websites.
- MasterStudy is used by 71.7% of MasterStudy LMS websites.
However, in the case of MasterStudy, the number is exceptionally high because the theme is bundled with the LMS plugin.
Popular Membership Plugins
Subscription-based memberships are a popular product type used by many course creators. In fact, a membership plugin allows you to charge and manage subscriptions and restrict access to your content.
Of all the membership plugins, Paid Memberships Pro is the most popular and is used by 13.5% of course websites.
The second most widely used option is Ultimate Member (5%), followed by WooCommerce Memberships (2.2%) and MemberPress (1.9%).
However, when looking at this dataset, remember that the overall number of WordPress LMS websites selling memberships will be higher since plugins like LearnDash, LifterLMS, and AccessAlly come with built-in membership functionality.
The Market for LMS-Specific Plugins
Apart from the general solutions that all LMS plugins can use, there’s also a big market for specialized plugins.
These types of add-ons are designed to be used with specific LMS plugins and bring additional functionalities to the websites that use them.
Some standout plugins in this category include:
- TutorLMS Elementor Addons lets you add specific widgets to the Elementor page builder, which you can use on your course website.
- Uncanny Toolkit for LearnDash adds specific modules to LearnDash to improve your students’ learning experience.
- Design Upgrade for LearnDash lets you redesign every aspect of your LearnDash pages.
While the first option is used by 26.5% of the Tutor LMS websites, the second and third options are LearnDash-specific and used by 26% and 10% of the websites.
The best LMS plugins have a bigger ecosystem of specialized add-ons and plugins supported by third-party developers. One such developer is WisdmLabs, which offers several LearnDash-specific products.
Other Popular Plugins
We also looked at the usage of some other popular plugins that don’t necessarily fall into any of the above categories but are still important to consider.
Some standout solutions from the websites in our study and their usage % are:
- Contact Form 7: Popular contact form plugin (45%)
- Slider Revolution: Popular WordPress slider plugin (28%)
- WPForms: General-purpose form builder (24.2%)
- MonsterInsights: Google Analytics plugin for WordPress (13.3%)
- WP Rocket: Premium caching solution (8.64%)
- The Events Calendar: Plugin to create and manage an event calendar (5.8%)
- OptinMonster: Lead generation software (3.6%)
- Presto Player: Video player plugin (3.5%)
These plugins serve different purposes, and some of them—like Slider Revolution and MonsterInsights—are extremely popular.
We hope this study helped you gain valuable insights into the tech stack of WordPress course websites.
We discussed various plugins and solutions, including WordPress LMSs, page builders, website themes, eCommerce plugins, and more.
We’d also like to thank BuiltWith for providing all the data that made this study possible.
Now we’d like to hear from you. Do you have any questions about our study findings or methodology?
Leave them below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.