Nowadays, circumstances make daily processes move to the Internet. The usual studying process is also affected by this. Most of the studying institutions had to switch to distance learning. Advanced organizations have already been using Learning management systems to improve the studying process.

So LMSes are becoming even more popular now.

ElifTech has extensive experience in developing such kind of systems, and in this article, we collected important things that should be considered during LMS building to make it successful.

Content

The principal value of any LMS is its content.

Start thinking about what types of content the system will support, how it will be represented, and who will manage it.

Localization of content and UI

Define what languages the system should support.

Remember that the translation process is continuous and goes alongside the app developing process.

Text content

Simple text content can be represented in different ways.

Classic WYSIWYG-editors produce raw HTML-markup with both content data and content appearance.

On the contrary, Editor.js outputs JSON object with data of each Block

Given data can be used as you want: render with HTML for Web clients, render natively for mobile apps, create the markup for Facebook Instant Articles or Google AMP, generate an audio version, and so on.

Clean data is useful to sanitize, validate, and process on the backend.

Media content

Video, audio, and images are an integral part of the studying process, so we need to think about what formats and video resolutions system would support.

Should the system allow just video embedding, for example, from YouTube or also direct uploading to the LMS? 

You need to remember that the system should support not just full HD resolutions but also smaller formats so that users using mobile networks to access LMS could also interact with the app. So in case, LMS has an “upload video” feature, preferably it should have “Video transcoding” that would convert video to different resolutions, some ready solutions like “AWS Elastic Transcoder” could be used.

Search of content

It’s important to think about how users would search for content inside the application.

Pages should have not just title and text but should be categorized. 

If the app should support search by full pages text, then to have excellent app performance, don’t forget to use full-text indexes in DB or, in more complicated cases, utilize some search engine like ElasticSearch.

Not only users should search your content but also bots like Google, so remember to generate sitemap.xml and set up correct meta tags, preferably use Server Side Rendering for public pages.

What the system has on the output?

If the system should generate statistics, reports, or something like this, then think of how it should be represented and what filters it should have.

It can be tables with numbers or different types of charts.

Roles and permissions

Think about what types of user roles the system would have and what access these roles should have to different parts of the platform. To simplify representation, you can build permissions matrix (see next image).

Permissions matrix can look like this and will contain more roles and permissions.

roles and permissions

Also, don’t forget to think about user roles transitions and possible cases that should be handled to prevent possible bugs.

User interface / User experience

The primary goal of any business is to increase its sales and increase the growth of the business. UX/UI Design plays an essential role in achieving this goal. 

For a start-up or a small venture, the importance of UI and UX Design becomes even more crucial as the first impression lasts long, and using UI, and UX designing can make or break the brand recognition.

Integration with third-party services

It might be useful to integrate the CRM system with LMS to track users’ deals and access to the app.

For authorization, I’d recommend using not only email/password but also integrate different methods like Google, Facebook, or Office365.

Preferably do not store media content on your servers, try to upload it to cloud solutions like AWS S3 + Cloudfront.

You might need to set up syncing of users with marketing systems like Mailchimp.

Every application can require the integration of specific third party services.

So I’d recommend checking API features of any third party services firstly, its versions, and if a service has ready up-to-date lib-wrapper for selected programming language. 

Build scalable service at the very beginning

You should remember that at some point of time, the number of online users will be increased significantly, and one instance of the application won’t be able to serve all users, so it will require scaling. Focus on building scalable API of your service at the beginning because, in another case, when this moment comes, you might not “fix it quickly.”

Customer service

Provide customer service to your users to keep their loyalty.

You can integrate chat widgets like Intercom and prepare FAQ pages describing application requirements, features, and other frequent questions.

Don’t forget about logs

Sometimes only application logs can answer the question, “what and why happened?”.

The application can store not just standard and error output logs, but also include meta information like user ID.

You can log not only server requests, but also browser user actions/errors.

There are many cloud services for logs saving, I can recommend LogDNA. 

Collect usage statistics and know your users.

Integrate google analytics to collect statistics of application usage.

You could temporarily integrate services for users sessions recording like Hotjar to find out how users interact with your application.

These sessions recordings can be input data for UI/UX improvements.

I recommend having such services enabled for a short time (not forever) because they consume more users traffic and make additional loading for end users.

Collect statistics of features usage. If the feature is not used, try to improve it or get rid of it to simplify application support.

Different marketing and statistics collection scripts can be easily enabled or disabled when you integrate them via Google Tag Manager, allowing do changes with browser code without additional deployments and downtimes.

Summary

ElifTech has powerful experience with building learning management systems and tried to share the most important things that should be considered for building almost any LMS to make it prosper and useful for users.