Guide to build an elearning website like Udemy, Coursera, or Udacity

Jul 08, 2020
Build an elearning website like Udemy, Coursera, or Udacity

If you’ve been playing with the idea of building an elearning website, now is the best moment to implement it.

Online education is on the rise. Our web development and support team is ready to share with you useful considerations about creating an elearning website.

We will discuss the advantages of elearning and the necessary functionality to build a website like Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, and more. It will help you attract more learners, keep them happy with your product, and monetize your efforts. Let’s go.

What is elearning?

Elearning is the acquisition of knowledge with the help of electronic technologies. While studying, students are not present in a traditional classroom. On the contrary, they use educational assets through gadgets (computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.) connected to the Internet.

Sometimes, the classes are delivered live, so learners can virtually raise their hand and communicate with the teacher. In other cases, the course materials are pre-recorded.

Other terms often used for “e-learning” are electronic learning (the full version of the name), online learning, internet learning, distance education, distance learning, online classes, and more.

The rise of online learning

Elearning has transformed the ways to get new knowledge. That’s why educational platforms like Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare, Udacity, Lynda, etc., attract millions of people. Even before the global pandemic pushed education to the remote format, the online education market had been forecast to reach US$ 350 billion by 2025. Of course, the figures need a big update — people find it relevant like never before to be able to study while staying at home.

Udemy - example of elearning website

Key benefits of elearning for students

Time savings

Learners don’t have to spend time on visiting the physical site. This becomes especially crucial when they are far away. Thanks to elearning, studies begin with one click of a mouse.

Reduced costs

Online education is more cost-effective compared to traditional forms of learning. Add here the expenses of travelling to another city or country, course materials, and accommodation. Businesses often prefer buying online courses instead of hiring trainers for their staff.

Flexible schedules

In most cases, online learners are able to shape their own schedules. This allows anyone to get new skills, acquire a cool hobby, or start a new career by flexibly combining lessons with everyday life.

Individual pace of learning

With elearning, students can learn the study material as fast as is convenient for them. Particular lectures can be played again when needed.

Safety in the pandemic times

An obvious advantage of elearning is that physical presence is not required, which reduces the risks, anxiety, and hassle, compared to traditional learning.

How to build an elearning website

All the benefits of elearning sound great, but how to create a website like Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, or others? Here are some steps you need to take.

1) Define your niche and get best content

In elearning, there are plenty of areas. You can build a versatile platform with courses on various topics, or you can launch an industry-specific elearning website. There’s always an option to grab one of the popular niches like personal development, healthy lifestyles, technology, entrepreneurship, arts, etc.

By defining your niche and studying your target audience, you will be able to build an elearning website tailored to their needs. Of course, you will need valuable educational content that this audience will appreciate. You can cooperate with expert instructors and thought leaders, partner with universities, etc. Knowing your audience can also influence the functionality to build and the monetization decisions to make.

2) Decide on the monetization type

How do elearning websites like Coursera, Udemy, EdX, Udacity, and others make money? Here are some of the monetization forms you can ponder on:

  • paid educational courses
  • free courses but paid certificates of completion
  • monthly subscriptions
  • premium accounts with extra options
  • training programs for businesses
  • donations

3) Choose the key elearning website functionality

The next step in our guide on how to make an elearning website is to review the functionality. Elearning websites like Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, and more, may vary in functionality, but here are some important features you need to think about:


When it comes to registration on your website, make sure the form is simple enough — a name, email/phone number, and password is perfect. It is also a very popular solution to offer an alternate sign-up with social profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, etc.).

Registration on an elearning website

User profiles

Usually, there are two types of user profiles (students and teachers) with a different set of fields. Among other things, learners will need their lists of active and completed courses, points and achievements, and payment history.

Search, categories, and filters

You need to enable anyone to quickly find the necessary courses. This is useful for all elearning websites but especially for ones with 150,000+ options such as Udemy. Elearning websites provide this through such functionality as the search bar (often with autocomplete), well-defined categories, and filters by various criteria (like topic, price, duration, language, proficiency level, etc.)

Search on an elearning website

Featured courses

In our fast-changing world, people don’t know where to start. So while the search is for those who already have ideas or preferences, a block with trending courses on the main page could be a good incentive for most customers.

Featured courses on an elearning website


Make sure your audience feels comfortable on your elearning website and always feels their questions or concerns will be resolved. That’s why you will need to build a support chat into your site.

Сourse page

Every course page should have full information about it. Among the required things are the extended description, the duration, the price (if not free), information about the creators, the summary of the multimedia included (articles, videos, etc.), the star rating, the certificate of completion, and more.

Course page on an elearning website

Course creation

Enable your website admins or course trainers to create courses easily, according to their preferred structure, and upload learning materials in various formats (audio files, PDFs, videos, etc.) Once created, courses should be quickly editable by their creators.

Rating and reviews

The trust of learners often builds on the feedback from other learners, so a system of rating and reviews is a useful thing. It will also allow you to know your audience’s opinion and build your strategies on it. Also, you can use the rating system to automatically showcase the most popular courses.

Ratings and reviews on an elearning website

Notifications and reminders

Keep the participants informed about new courses or other events. This can be done through email or on-site notifications. Avoid spamming them about all courses. Instead, you can choose only relevant events based on their preferences.

Admin dashboard

Your admins need a convenient dashboard to track the activity of the participants, get useful analytical data (number of students, ratings, conversions, etc), manage user roles, create or edit new content, and so on.

Multiple payment options

Provide your elearning site customers with secure and user-friendly payment options. Make them varied — offer payment with a credit card, PayPal, Stripe or Braintree, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and so on. It should be easy for learners to pay and for trainers to get their earnings.

4) Hire a web development team with a cost-effective approach

Once you have decided on your niche, started thinking about your content, chosen the monetization methods, and reviewed some great website functionality, it’s time to select a web agency that will build an elearning website for you.

The Drudesk team uses a cost-effective approach to development. We use contributed solutions in a CMS (Drupal or WordPress) and work twice as fast in order to save our customer’s time and money. Content management systems are very efficient as a basis to build websites with, and allow unlimited customizations. We have shared posts about what makes Drupal a great solution for university websites and how to create an online course website with WordPress.

  • Example of our e-learning website project

We are proud of the fact that our web development team created some innovative features for the Global Finance School website. GFS provides people across the globe with finance knowledge by means of interactive online courses and e-books. We made such cool features as integration with, integration with the Moodle learning platform, access to content by user’s IP, recurring payment functionality, encrypted and secure transaction functionality, social media integration, and more.

Global Finance School - example of elearning website

Our team of expert web developers is ready to create an elearning website like Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, or others for you from scratch. We will help you become an industry leader through the use of modern technologies in elearning website development!

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