The e-learning market shows year-over-year growth. Forbes reports that it’ll reach $325 billion by the year 2025. Such a pace of growth is attractive for many startups and investors.

But how to create a platform that could succeed? What models and core features are there? I’m giving answers to all these questions and beyond in this article. 

Models of e-learning platforms

To make it easier, let’s compare the models of two well-known e-learning websites — Coursera and Udemy


This platform partners with companies and universities giving its users access to lectures and courses from professors. 

Here are just some of the educational institutions they cooperate with: 

  • Arizona State University
  • Stanford
  • London Imperial College
  • University of Michigan 

Users can study topics of their interest and even get a university degree. That’s why the range of prices is really wide: from free to over $22,000.


There are over 130,000 courses on Udemy compared to about 2,700 on Coursera. Most of them are short-term and created by individuals. 

But every contributor has to go through a verification process before they can publish anything to a platform. 

It looks as follow:

  • Instructors identify their ownership rights to the course
  • Enter the country of residence 
  • Legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Address

After that, the Quality Review Team looks through the course and publishes it if there are no additional edits to make.

So what models are there?

It’s possible to single out more models that modern e-learning platforms adhere to. But the two mentioned above are the brightest and most widespread examples:

  • Platforms that partner with well-known educational institutions or people (another example is MasterClass)
  • Or the ones where everyone familiar with the topic can create their own course (another example is Udacity)

Must-Have Features for e-Learning Website

Now that you have a certain image of the e-learning market, we’re moving to essential features for a platform. The set of features defines not only usability but website development costs as well.

The most reasonable decision is to incorporate features of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) adding new functionality little by little. 

Here are some of the possible MVP features:

  • Authorization and user profiles
  • Search
  • Progress dashboard
  • Course description
  • Payment
  • Push notifications
  • Admin panel

Authorization and profiles

Authorization is what both users and instructors go through. You can add the email and password method or allow signing up via Facebook, Google, and so on.

As for profiles, they should have:

  • User info
  • Profile picture
  • Certificates history
  • History of purchases
  • Settings

And additionally for instructors: 

  • List of courses


Search by categories and parameters — like language, level or price — is a must for navigating through tons of content. 

Progress dashboard

It should be added for both students and instructors to help them track the progress and see how one or another course performs. 

For example, students see courses they’re currently taking along with passed classes. Instructors can see the number of students taking courses, rating of courses, and their earning. 

Course description

This is an important one. Most users scan the page with the course description before purchasing it. So the more information you add there, the more visitors you convert into buyers. 

For example, Udacity covers the following:

  • Time of course and due date to enroll
  • Description of the course and milestones
  • Program offerings like 1-on-1 with a mentor, project reviews, and others
  • Teachers with bio

But don’t forget about the quality of that information and UI design of the page.


Not less important to let users pay for content easily and instructors to withdraw the money they earned. It depends on your audience what payment options to add.

Here are some of the options: 

  • Cards
  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay

Push notifications

Inform users that a course they enrolled in will start in two days. You can also send them recommendations on what courses to take next based on their purchases. Notify them about special offers.

There are too many options. They all depend on your platform’s functionality and the idea behind it. 

Admin panel

There is no way of managing your platform without an admin panel. Think through the functionality it may have. Banning users, sending emails, tracking overall stats, and on.

How to get started with product development? 

There are three things you need to handle before getting started with product development. 

1. Define the target audience

This will actually help you understand what features to build after the basic ones. 

The points below can help you improve your product:

  • Age
  • Circle of interests
  • Hobbies

Based on that information, you can find out which courses to add first to your platform. Not talking about functionality. 

2. Hire team

You’ll need a development team including web engineers, UI/UX designers, and QA engineers to build your platform from scratch. 

There are two options:

  • Outsource development to a tech service provider
  •  Form an in-house team

The latter is usually more expensive. Talking about outsourcing, it seems to be a good option for a new company. You can hire a team from anywhere in the world and cut development expenses.

Below are several platforms where you can look for software development companies: 

3. Think of how to attract instructors

Now you need quality content. The only way to get it is to partner with people interested in running their course.

Wrapping up

It’s time to get to work! Think through every aspect of your product development and you’ll end up managing a successful e-learning platform. 


About the author: Vitaly Kuprenko is the technical writer at Cleveroad.  It is a software development company located in Eastern Europe. His mission is to provide people with interesting material about innovations in the world of IT.