Online learning is facing unprecedented growth.

COVID-19 has shut down schools worldwide, leaving 1.2 billion children without access to traditional education and learning process. A few years ago, a situation like this would have seemed dramatic; today, schools and universities have seamlessly switched to online classrooms.

A few years ago, a situation like this would have seemed dramatic; today, schools and universities have seamlessly switched to online classrooms with the assistance of online learning platforms via mobile devices.

Online learning platforms the third most popular app category on the App Store, right after games and business applications. In addition, the online education market is projected to reach $350 billion by 2025.

The Most Popular Types of Apps in App Store
The Most Popular Types of Apps in App Store

Thus, many thought of building e-learning websites with the intent to make them profitable over a short time.

Interested in how to make an online learning website to win over the market?

In this article, we shed light on the topic and cover the following points:

  • Business perspectives of custom eLearning websites
  • Main types of e-learning websites
  • How online learning and online education works
  • Strategies to make money with your e-learning website
  • Step-by-step process to create educational website
  • Key features for students and teachers in online learning platforms
  • APIs, tech stack, and frameworks used in learning management systems
  • E-learning development cost breakdown

Let’s dive right into the details to learn how to turn custom software development for a successful learning platform.

Market Potential for for Building an E-Learning Website

E-learning market size accounts for over 200,000 apps for education on the App Store, meaning the situation is quite challenging.

Nonetheless, there is much room for new solutions, growth, and innovations. Next, we look at what the market offers with online learning platforms.

Examples & Types of E-Learning Platforms

If you are interested in customer eLearning development but aren’t sure how to start, take a look at the main solution types.

In general, there are two key divisions of educational platforms for internal and external purposes:

  • Internal online training software – offers free courses inside a business or organization for internal training purposes. These solutions can be used for onboarding, employee training, etc. Just imagine - between 2001 and 2017, the popularity of corporate e-learning development grew by 900%!

  • External app and web-based training platforms – these platforms are designed to be available to many students. Examples include platforms like online courses, language learning tools, etc.

Let’s now investigate this software with some vivid examples for mobile learning.

The Most Popular E-Learning Websites & Applications
The Most Popular E-Learning Websites & Applications

1. Online education courses

The market is full of various solutions, with Coursera being one of the most famous.

Online learning platform like Coursera is quite popular among students, with 49% taking an online course. The main advantage of e-learning solutions is the ability to study anywhere in the world and attend the classes of the best professionals, even in the rarest specialties.

2. Language learning apps

Learning new languages has never been more accessible. With hundreds of applications on the market, you can easily study any language with native speakers for only a few dollars a month via computer assisted instruction.

Apps like Duolingo can be used to build up a vocabulary, improve grammar, practice speaking, and much more.

3. Memory training apps

This is another possible opportunity for educational platform development. These e-learning apps and web-based training platforms help form the brain's and memory's flexibility, improve skills, reduce stress, and learn new techniques.

Lumosity, offers many games for brain and memory training, is a good example.

4. Preparation apps

This application is a hit among students aimed at assisting them during exam preparation with the help of exercises, training sessions, quizzes, etc.

Popular examples include Pocket Aptitude, EduRev, Gradeup, etc.

5. Supporting tools

Online dictionaries and libraries are the most popular examples of this type of online learning platform. These solutions provide users with exciting and valuable information, help them look up new words, etc.

Below you’ll find a table with the best e-learning website from each of the above categories so that you can evaluate their popularity and check out their unique selling points.

Solution Platforms Purpose № of Users USP & Features
Coursera Web, Android, iOS Online courses from top universities and educational institutions 47 million Courses from top professionals and universities
On-demand video and audio lectures
Online quizzes and task assessment
Mobile application
Integrated payment system

KhanAcademy Web, Android, iOS Online courses for school students 100 million subscribers Short video lessons on math, history, and other school subjects
Video lectures
Online tests
Mobile application

TED Web, Android, iOS Online talks from top professionals 1.5 million views a day Talks in 100+ languages
Recommendations and playlists
Podcasts and books
Totally free

Open University Web Online university for distance learning 1.8 million students 5,000+ tutors
Open Learn – provides free online video tutorials and courses
YouTube and iTunes channels
Open Research Online – student research publication directory

Duolingo Web, Android, iOS Learning languages app 300 million active users 36 languages
7 billion exercises completed monthly
Language video lessons and tests
LinkedIn certificate of completion
Mobile applications for different platforms

Wolfram Alpha Web, Android, iOS, Windows phone Computational knowledge engine 690,000 visits per day Huge database of different data
Ability to ask a question and get automatically computed answers
Online calculation formulas

Lumosity Web, Android, iOS Online platform of games to improve memory, attention, speed of processing, and problem-solving abilities 75 million users Daily exercises in the form of games
All games are made by over 100 researchers and scientists
Automatic evaluation of cognitive abilities

Brainscape Web, Android, iOS Flashcard app Millions Game based on cognitive science
Ready-to-use and customizable flashcards
Over 14 spheres of knowledge

GradeUp Web, Android Preparation platform for 100+ exams 10 million installs on Google Play Support for 100+ exams
Live online courses
Unlimited questions and quizzes

Oxford Dictionary Web, Android, iOS Historical dictionary of the English language by Oxford University Text Word semantics
Multi-language translation feature
Explanatory dictionary
Word use examples

Cambridge Dictionary Web, Android, iOS Dictionary of the English language by Cambridge University 198.73 million monthly visitors Word meanings
Word use examples

Custom eLearning development is a very promising area today wherein education and innovation are weaving their paths. With billions of potential users, you can turn this sort of application or website into a profitable business while providing value to users from all over the world.

Want to learn how much it will cost to build an e-learning website?

Get in touch with our team to get an initial estimation of your future solution and a detailed project timeline. Receive professional feedback from both business and technical perspectives.

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Monetization Strategy for App and Web-Based Training Platforms

The main goal of online learning platform development is to launch a successful solution that will turn into a profitable business.

Of course, you need to choose the right monetization strategy to reach your business goals.

Freemium model

Coursera 7-day Free Trial Screen
Coursera 7-day Free Trial Screen

This model allows users to access some part of the provided functionality for free. To get full functionality access, for example, you can ask for a payment for each additional lesson, monthly or yearly subscription, a certain app or extension download, open free trials, etc.


Before beginning your new courses with core features, consider basing your solution on this monetization strategy. Users can pay monthly, quarterly, yearly, or lifetime subscriptions to get unlimited access to your online course platform.


You can earn money by integrating Google Ads into your online platform or e-learning website. You will get money for audience coverage and the number of clicks on ads. You can also provide a subscription allowing users to block all advertisements.

You can find more information on how to utilize ads inside the official documentation by Google.

In-app purchases

Another possible approach is the integration of in-app purchases, where you can provide users with the following options:

  • Personal consultations with mentors
  • Buying courses
  • Purchasing additional materials
  • Certifications
  • LinkedIn badges

Extra info: Building an online education business takes time and monetary resources.

For instance, let’s take a look at Coursera. In 2018, the annual revenue of this platform was estimated at $140 million dollars, reached in under six years.

Monetization Journey of Coursera Platform
Monetization Journey of Coursera Platform

The platform started as a free online education platform and changed business models to certificate-based payments.

Coursera’s annual revenue was estimated at $1 million dollars by selling over 25,000 verified certificates to 4.7 million users. Five months later, the platform reached $4 million in revenue.

It’s possible to repeat the success of Coursera by building an online learning platform and launching a unique online course platform.

How to Create an Online Learning Platform from Scratch

Development of an online course platform can consist of many phases – from market analysis to the app’s release with ongoing support and development.

Let’s take a closer look at each stage of creating an e-learning website or an app.

1. Analyze the Market & Define Your Niche

A lot of stages precede the actual e learning website creation, one of them is market analysis to find the right business niche and target audience. It is crucial to analyze the situation on the market, identify the best companies, and understand your main competitors.

You can use a solution such as that of Edsurge, an online directory with customer reviews, to identify the leading players.

Edsurge Platform for Market Research
Edsurge Platform for Market Research

Based on the collected data, you need to document your strategy for educational content and user friendly learning experience.

This kind of strategy can be presented in the form of a Business Model Canvas - a one-page summary that covers the high-strategy details of your start-up and its business models.

See below the canvas with a business model, which lists the key stages of setting up online learning platform. Here, you can see the main ideas for your application, which work you should perform before building an online education business, and how to organize the business part of the product.

Coursera Example of BMC to Develop E-Learning Platform
Coursera Example of BMC to Develop E-Learning Platform

2. Compose Your Unique Value Proposition

Creating a unique value proposition is essential for any business.

Key idea: Even though it might seem like a good idea to create a clone of Coursera or Udemy, you won’t be able to win the market over with that kind of solution. The best way is to identify target audience and users’ pain points and address them in your online learning platform.

3. Work on the E-Learning Platform Content & Online Courses

However great your educational website development idea is, it won’t be successful without unique and valuable content for the online course.

For example, the flagship features of Coursera and Edx are paid courses from world-famous universities like Harvard, Cambridge, Berkeley, MIT, and other flagship educational institutions.

So, decide how you will find partners that will create content for your online learning platform or how you will produce your own text and video content.

4. Find a Professional Software Development Vendor

Now, it’s time to move to the next stage – finding a reliable IT vendor for creating an elearning website.

Fortunately, the variety of companies available for this is diverse. On one hand, this creates the freedom of choice and, on the other hand, you might get lost.

There are a lot of locations to which you can outsource software development. But, in this regard, Eastern Europe stands out, with Ukraine being a very attractive outsourcing destination to create an e-learning project.

The average price for building online learning application is about $40 per hour. Combined with high technical education, a long history of successful IT outsourcing, and a favorable taxation system, you can hire the best e-learning developers while saving up to 60% of your budget.

Regions to Create an Online Learning Platform
Regions to Create an Online Learning Platform

Another advantage of utilizing Ukraine as your e-learning platform development outsourcing region is the great time zone. While your developers sleep, you can set new tasks and get results at the beginning of the next day. There is enough overlap so that you have enough time for direct communication and collaboration on your project.

When you are looking for an e-learning website development company, pay attention to the following factors:

  • Number of years on the market
  • Portfolio with similar projects
  • Availability of senior developers
  • Great references from former clients
  • Level of commitment to, and involvement with, your project idea
  • Provided ongoing product development and support

During initial project discussions, ask all the questions that you want to get a better picture of the company and to make the right choice.

Intrigued to know how to make the right choice among e-learning vendors?

Check our article How to Hire a Development Team to discover the main steps in finding a reliable technical partner and how to avoid costly mistakes.

5. eLearning Website Development & Design

Custom mobile app development is a complex process consisting of two major stages: Discovery and Development.

Custom E-Learning Development Process at MLSDev
Custom E-Learning Development Process at MLSDev

During the Discovery stage, the vendor will concentrate on finalization of your business idea, its analysis, as well as the preparation of complete functional specification, product backlog, as well as UX/UI design research and creation.

eLearning Website Design

When creating an e-learning website, you need to concentrate on a few pillars of a successful user experience (UX) and user interface (UI):

  • Develop an interface to actively involve users in the learning environment and process with the help of different exercises
  • Engage them with learning materials and by providing feedback and motivation in the form of grades
  • Provide meaningful exercises from simple to complex, from generic to specific
  • Interact with them and provide support without distracting from learning

Custom eLearning Platforms

How do you create an eLearning web conferencing software?

The next step is custom eLearning development itself. This phase can be approached in different ways. Some companies decide to first create an MVP (minimum viable product).

This definition means creating of the first version of your digital product with essential features. The main goal of MVP is to test and verify your idea, with advanced features added in later stages of development.

Software Development Lifecycle at MLSDev
Software Development Lifecycle at MLSDev

You also need to decide how many platforms you will target in the first stage - iOS, Android, web, or all.

During the development phase, the top quality assurance practices should be included. QA engineers will hunt down even the slightest bugs and return them to developers to be fixed.

6. Market your Own E-Learning Platform

Even the best company working on building an alearning platform cannot guarantee that your product will find users.

Here is a short overview of a possible plan for promoting online platforms:

  • Paid ads – create and launch Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other ads at the time you launch your application on the market
  • SMM – social marketing is a very effective way to connect with potential and current customers, which directly influences customer retention
  • Partners – if you don’t create courses yourself, you can ask your partners to promote their courses along with your platform
  • Influencer marketing – find leading influencers in your niche, get in touch with them, and negotiate the promotion of your learning platform to their audience
  • Content marketing - these efforts consist of creating and publishing consistent and valuable content to attract and retain users for your online course

In-House Team vs. Dedicated Development Team
In-House Team vs. Dedicated Development Team

Do you want to create an online learning platform from scratch?

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Features for Custom eLearning Platform Development

Functionality for the end-user should allow controlling the app, its appearance, and set up personal preferences. When you create your own e-learning website for the first version of a product, you can implement must-have features.

Below you’ll find a list of the most popular features for students and teachers.

Core Features for the Learner

Functionality for the end-user should provide them with an ability to control the app, its appearance, and set up personal preferences.

Let’s investigate the essential features that you should consider for an e-learning website creation.

  • Registration

Sign-up and sign-in are two primary features that any e-learning solution should have. Implement this feature via email, phone number, or social media user verification. The option to register with Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc, is the most user-friendly and the fastest.

  • Profile

Allow users to create a profile in your eLearning platform. You should implement features such as the ability to configure personal data, change the information provided during registration, set up notification settings, personal learning schedules, etc.

Account Screen for e-Learning Platform
Account Screen for e-Learning Platform

  • Learning materials

The main goal of any online course creation is to provide users with access to educational materials. Make sure you know how to create this content or have an idea of who will be interested in working with your platform.

  • Video courses and lectures

The best way to educate someone about something is to combine audio and video materials. Ensure to include learning video courses in your solution and give users exciting lectures.

Create Video Streaming Site
Create Video Streaming Site

Interested in knowing more about video streaming functionality?

Our team has prepared a detailed guide - How to Create a Video Streaming Website: 10-Step Guide with Business & Technical Parts. Check it out to learn how to start a streaming service like Netflix and turn it into a successful business.

  • Search

A robust search system is the best way for users to find the needed materials. Create a library with all of the available courses and lectures. You can group them by industries, topics, the authors who created them, and other filtering options.

Coursera Search Functionality
Coursera Search Functionality

You can include the recommended options to increase the number of course sales.

  • Additional resources and links

If students should need access to additional resources, provide them with links to access them. Even if you need to include a link to an external resource for users to get a fuller picture of a topic, provide links to them.

  • Groups

By creating user groups, you will allow content managers to distribute educational materials among users. On the other hand, users can communicate with other students in their groups, collaborate on tasks, help each other, and just have fun discussing your courses.

  • Chats and feedback forms

This functionality is a must-have if you want to provide teacher-student, teacher-class, or student-student communication. Integrate chats for instant messaging exchange and video conferencing for live webinars and lectures.

  • Assignments and tasks

Homework is an integral part of online education, therefore it’s important to include a dedicated section where users can find their assignments and tasks. You also need to include the ability to submit assignments for review or set up an automatic assessment system.

  • Quizzes and tests

By taking quizzes and tests, users can check how well they know the learned materials, and teachers can assess students' knowledge. These quizzes and tests can be fully automated or require personal checks by teachers.

  • Calendar

This is another essential feature, especially if students are enrolled in a course with set deadlines. A calendar will provide them with all the important dates, remind them about the need to submit assignments, and even book individual consultations with teachers.

  • Payment

Add the ability to pay for courses and lectures right inside your application. Make sure to integrate the most popular payment systems at your location, like credit cards, PayPal, Payoneer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.

  • Push notifications

Consider this feature a must-have if you want your application to have a high level of user engagement. You can add different logic to push notifications and use them to remind users about planned live lectures, pending assignments, deadlines, etc.

  • Report and progress tracking

E-Learning App Design Sample (Source: Dribbble)
E-Learning App Design Sample (Source: Dribbble)

Automated reports allow users to track their productivity and progress inside the learning management system. You can show these reports and tracking results inside a user’s profile in the form of charts, and send the data to users via email. You can also provide them with a comparison of their productivity among other course participants.

Advanced Functionality for e-Learning Website Development

If you want to go even further with creating an e-learning platform, you can include a few extra features.

  • Offline mode

If you want to create a mobile application, include the ability to use it and take courses offline. This functionality can be implemented by allowing users to download educational materials for further offline use.

  • Social aspects

Allow users to communicate with each other. You can use the Disqus solution to create a community to discuss your courses and share knowledge.

Another possible solution is to integrate social media and allow users to share their progress with friends on their social media pages.

  • Built-in feedback forms

One of the best ways to ensure high user engagement and retention is to improve online sources and add new materials constantly. You can allow users to share their thoughts on each lecture, course, assignment, etc.

Feedback forms will provide valuable information about learning materials and help identify user pain points you can address in further app versions.

Functionality for Teachers and Course Managers

Before you create an e-learning website and app, you need to think through all the possible features designed for teachers and course managers.

  • Registration

If you decide to create a platform where teachers will be able to add their own courses, you won’t be able to go without this feature. Provide different solutions for sign up and sign in, including user verification with Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  • Profile

This is where teachers should be able to change data used during registration, update personal information, and set up personal in-app preferences, etc.

  • Giving assignments

This feature is a part of more extensive functionality for course management. The main goal of this feature is to help teachers send out assignments in bulk and view which students have submitted tasks for review.

  • Assessment tools

In the event of live courses with personal assessments by teachers, they should have an easy-to-use dashboard that allows them to view submitted tasks and assess them. This feature can be combined with another one that will allow teachers to comment on tasks.

  • Marking tools

These tools can be used to highlight areas in tasks where users may have made some mistakes. This tool is very useful for tasks that are submitted in text form.

  • CRUD courses and their content

This is the key functionality of the content management system. Teachers and course managers should be able to create, review, update, and delete courses, lectures, and tasks in the learning management system.

Dashboard for Teachers (Source: Dribbble)
Dashboard for Teachers (Source: Dribbble)

  • Library of content

Teachers might use different types of content to help users better remember the material. So, once you decide to create your own eLearning platform, you need to make sure that your solution supports all types of content, including text files, PDFs, audio, and video files.

Content should be organized into a library with a robust filtering system to help teachers easily find the needed content. These libraries should store both basic content and supplemental content that students might need.

  • Feedback forms and communication tools

Communication is a very important aspect of the educational process. Don’t forget about this factor during custom e-learning development. Provide teachers with a management system, where they will view feedback and communicate with students.

Gamification Elements for Online Learning Platforms

When you create a new educational project, you might also need to include elements to motivate students.

The main goal of gamification in an online e-learning platform is to motivate customers to regularly use your product, submit tasks on time, and get the best results for tasks.

Learning Process in DuoLingo App
Learning Process in DuoLingo App

Here are a few possible gamification elements that you can include in custom eLearning development.

  • In-app currency

The ability to get in-app currency and exchange it for additional lectures, course materials, or use it to buy courses is the best motivator. You can create your own currency and devise the logic behind its work.

  • Experience and levels

As students proceed through courses, you can assign different titles and knowledge levels to them.

  • Achievements badges

These badges can be given for certain achievements, like 14 days of uninterrupted learning, timely submission of all tasks throughout the course, etc.

  • Motivation sounds

When a user achieves some milestone, you can congratulate them on the achievement with the help of fanfares, a supportive mascot, and other cheering sounds.

  • Leaderboard

Competition is the best motivation. This feature is especially useful for group online courses and learning management system. By creating a student’s leadership board, you will motivate users to be actively involved in the educational process.

Tech Stack to Build an eLearning Website

Let’s look at the main integrations and the technology stack to create your own e-learning website.

Let’s look at the main integrations and the technology stack to create your own e learning platform.

Third-party Integrations
Service APIs
Mailing services Gmail
Firebase Cloud Messaging

Push notifications Twilio
Apple Push Notifications Service (APN)
Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM)

Social media Twitter

Payment systems Stripe
Google Pay
Apple Pay
PayPal’s SDK

Content management Google Docs

Task management Trello
Analytical tools Flurry
Google Analytics

Technology stack (app development)
Android iOS
Programming languages Java, Kotlin Swift, Objective-C
Toolkit Android Studio, Android Developer Tools Apple Xcode
SDK Android SDK iOS SDK, Cocoa Touch
Technology stack (web front-end development)
Programming languages JavaScript, TypeScript
Markup languages HTML5, CSS3
JavaScript frameworks SDK Angular (recommended), React, Vue, etc.
Technology stack (web back-end development)
Programming languages Ruby (recommended), Elixir, Python, PHP, Java, etc.
Web frameworks Ruby on Rails (recommended), Phoenix
Database servers PostgreSQL (preferred), MySQL
Web servers Nginx (preferred), Apache
Cloud server platforms Amazon Web Services (AWS, EC2, S3, etc.)

E-Learning Development Costs & Timeline

eLearning development costs can vary depending on the number of platforms you are going to target with the first version of your solution.

Usually, the basic version for an e-learning platform development for each platform will cost you ~$60,000, with a timeline of 3 to 6 months. Please note, we used an average development rate of $40/hour with Ukraine as the outsourcing IT location.

The final cost of development of e-learning depends on the following aspects that you should decide on:

  • Design complexity
  • Number of platforms
  • Number of features
  • Functionality and its complexity
  • Type of IT vendor, the location you choose

Process of Hiring a Dedicated Development Team
Process of Hiring a Dedicated Development Team

The cost of eLearning websites also depends on the team set that you need to create the first version of your online learning platform.

Interested in knowing how we calculate app development costs?

Check out the article App Development Cost: Understand Your Budget To Build Powerful Apps. You will learn about factors influencing e-learning platform development, how to calculate a timeline, and the main hidden cost drivers.

Final Word on Developing Educational Websites

Creating an e-learning website, especially if you build a platform with live courses, can be turned into a lucrative business in the years to come.

Reasons why Students Choose eLearning Solutions
Reasons why Students Choose eLearning Solutions

Coronavirus has impacted almost 98.5 percent of the world’s current student population – around 1.6 billion children and young people. All of these students need to have a way to continue with their education regardless of the situation.

COVID-19's Impact on World Education
COVID-19's Impact on World Education

To start with course creation with core features, it is necessary to follow the steps below:

  1. Study the market, identify competition, and set goals
  2. Come up with a unique features list for your online educational platform
  3. Decide on the platforms to which you want to launch your solution
  4. Find the proper e-learning developers
  5. Create detailed functional specifications with your development team
  6. Conduct polls and research within the target audience to validate your idea
  7. Design an intuitive and attractive custom e-learning platform design
  8. Develop e-learning platform functionality
  9. Consider adding a touch of uniqueness with innovative technologies (AR, VR - virtual learning, Artificial Intelligence)
  10. Launch your solution on the market, analyze user behavior, and plan for further improvements

The eLearning industry is prone to innovation and change. Make sure to always analyze the market, come up with new features for your custom e-learning solution, and ensure ongoing custom e-learning development and support.

MLSDev Approach in Project Cost Estimation
MLSDev Approach in Project Cost Estimation

Do you want to know the cost and timeline for developing a project in digital education?

Get a project estimation with an approximate budget for custom e-learning design and development. We have experience in developing digital products for the eLearning industry. Just reach out to our team.

Get in touch

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the forecast for the market of online e-learning platforms?
The market for custom e-learning platforms is predicted to grow to $350 billion by 2025. Education apps are in third place among the most popular solutions on the App Store.
How long does it take to develop e-learning platform?
A basic website for online learning with a core set of features will take ~3-6 months. Medium apps with more features for 1-2 platforms will take ~6-9 months to develop. If you decide to create a large application with complex app design and features for 2 platforms, you will need to spend 9+ months, which can turn into ongoing development.
What are the steps involved in creating e-learning platform?
The initial steps to developing eLearning platform include market research and competitor analysis to define the niche and further create unique selling points and a list of features. Then, it is necessary to find a capable team of e-learning software developers. The IT team will help with logical and detailed functional specification and backlog creation, followed by custom e-learning design and development.
What are the types of e-learning platforms?
There are a lot of solutions for e-learning that you can develop. The most popular types of software are platforms with self-paced and live courses. They can also be divided into internal training software, used by businesses for internal employee training, and external training tools for learning languages, online courses, dictionaries, memory training, and preparation apps.