Schools come in all sizes. Some are a single instructor teaching one subject while others have hundreds of instructors teaching dozens of courses to thousands of students. Each have their needs and challenges for a website but the overall operation is the same – no matter the size or the topic. Whether you’re creating a website for a tutor, a technical center, college, a high school, or a university, you can build it with WordPress and this article will show you how.
Why Build a School Website with WordPress?
WordPress is the ideal platform for building a school website. Why? WordPress is a powerful, open source, and free web content management system that powers almost 25% of all websites on the Internet. WordPress is easy to learn and use, is safe and secure, and search engine friendly. There are also thousands of free and premium themes and plugins available to extend WordPress so you can build any type of website with just about any sort of functionality you can imagine.
Two Types of Websites
First, you need to know what kind of website the school will need. There are two different types of school websites:
- a brochure website that tells you about the school
- a learning management system – an online portal where students and teachers can log in, see assignments and grades, and even take classes online
A brochure site doesn’t need anything special to make it work. It just needs to tell you about the school, talk about the classes, provide directions with a map, and give some contact information. It might include upcoming events with a calendar, show a gallery of teachers and students, and provide a download of upcoming courses. It could even provide online registration and a job board. It will just need a handful of pages and a good navigation structure. You can start with this type of site and add courses to it.
Learning Management System
This will take the website to a much higher level. It will need to provide the same information as the brochure site, but it will need a lot more features. It will allow students and teachers to log in, view courses, take courses, upload assignments, view grades, make payments, and more. Classes can be integrated from another platform or be built into WordPress.
Your school website will need some basic pages. Themes will probably have these pages. LMS plugins may give you shortcodes to place on these pages.
- Home – this is a landing page. Create a page you want to use as the landing page and then set it as a static front page in the Customize menu.
- About – gives basic information about the school.
- Courses – gives detailed descriptions of the courses offered.
- Admission – gives all of the needed information to apply for a course. It should include prices. You should include PDF’s that student can download and submit.
- Contact – includes a contact form and map.
- News – this tells of upcoming events or courses. It could also be called Blog.
No matter which type of website you plan to create for your school you’ll need some plugins. You’ll need something to handle membership, payments, the courses themselves, maps, contact forms, and possibly a way to allow students to correspond with each other (such as a course message board). Plugins are the most useful if you’re integrating a school into your website and you want to keep your current theme, or if you want to have more control over which systems you’re using.
The most popular plugins include:
This is a complete learning management system that lets you set up online courses that you can manage and sell using the built-in payment gateways. You can create learning units, quizzes, video, audio, discussion boards, and more. You can also evaluate students’ work. The free edition is limited to 2 courses. It comes with a theme that you can use or you can integrate it into any theme using shortcodes and widgets. There’s even a live chat feature.
The Pro edition allows for unlimited courses and adds lots more features for $24.50.
LearnPress – WordPress LMS Plugin
This one is a learning management system that provides premium quality features for free. You can create and manage courses, lessons, and quizzes with an easy to use interface that’s designed to be simple. You can sell your courses through PayPal, WooCommerce, or Stripe. It also supports BuddyPress.
There are lots of free and premium add-ons. Features include import/export, reviews, prerequisites, certificates, content drip, co-instructors, and more. Premium prices range from 19.99 to 39.99 euros.
This one is from WooThemes. It’s a learning management system that lets you create courses, lessons, quizzes, pre-requisites, etc. It manages user registration and uses WooCommerce to charge for course content. It creates a custom post type called Lessons that you can then sale as a product. Within Lessons you can create and specify all of the details. It also gives you analytics for the courses. It integrates into any WordPress theme.
There are also lots of extensions that add features such as content drip, course progress, attachments, certificates, badges, etc. Prices range from free to $29. Most are free.
A single-site license is $129.
This is a learning management system that focuses on providing all the tools you need while at the same time making them as easy as possible to use. It includes multi-tier courses, drip-feed content, forums, lesson timers, expiring access, advanced quizzing, prerequisites, assignment management, any type of media, group management, email notifications, user reports, and more. It’s compatible with any theme and supports multi-site.
There are lots of add-ons that add multiple instructors, WooCommerce integration, course grid, gravity forms, and lots more. Prices range from free to $49 or more depending on the features you want.
Prices start at $99.
This is a learning management system that lets you create and manage both online and onsite courses. It includes several payment gateways. It includes backends for instructors, students, and payments. It also includes certificates and badges.
It costs $31 for a regular license.
Here’s a list of more plugins that can help you create your school:
- Namaste! LMS
- LFE online courses
- WP Course Manager
- Simple Course Creator
- WP Google Maps
- Contact Form 7
- Events Calendar
You can create the pages you need by hand and find and install plugins you need, but the best themes have them packaged for you. Many of them provide a turnkey solution to get you started quickly. You simply install the themes and create your courses. Some require you to download plugins. Some of the plugins are premium. There are many themes available for specific topics such as dance class and photography. The themes on this list are more general and will apply to any topic.
This one is a learning management system. It includes course management, student, and instructor management, and allows you to create online courses. It integrates with BuddyPress, bbPress, and WooCommerce. It includes 8 plugins, instructor and student dashboards, course pages, course directories, timelines, quizzes, certificates, badges, assignments, email templates for course alerts, reviews, widgets, and lots more. You can modify the theme and there are child themes available. The results look amazing. This is one of the most popular premium themes for creating and selling online courses.
It costs $64 for a regular license and $3200 for the extended license.
This one is another learning management system that gives you the tools you need to create and sell online courses. It integrates with WooCommerce and has extended user profiles, a questions system, course progress, attachments, embedded media, ratings, and more. It includes four post types: courses, lessons, testimonials, and slides. It includes subscriptions, certificates, statistics, quizzes, related courses, and lots more. It will display the most popular courses. The theme looks great and has a lot of modern features.
It costs $59 for a regular license.
This one was designed to look like a school. It uses the drag-and-drop page builder and slider manager, has unlimited sidebars, 15 pre-designed backgrounds, 6 different footers, 4 blogs, lots of shortcodes, and more. It has 6 custom post types that include: Portfolio, Gallery, Testimonial, Personnel, Course, and Price Table. This is a great choice for a brochure site or for using an LMS plugin (which you’ll have to get separately). It loads fast and looks clean.
It costs $49 for a regular license.
This is an LMS theme that supports Sensei (purchased separately), WPML, WooCommerce, BuddyPress, Contact Form 7, Event Calendar, and MailChimp for creating online courses. You can create teacher profiles, user profiles, manage lessons, create quizzes, track progress, etc. It allows for video and other file attachments. It includes a rating system and questions system. It includes certificates and badges. It adds a Custom Course post type and has advanced searching and sorting. It also includes the drag-and-drop page builder, two sliders, and lots of shortcodes.
It’s $59 for the regular license.
This is another LMS theme designed to build online courses. You can sell both online and onsite courses. Online courses can be separated into sections with quizzes for each. Onsite courses include a reference code so they can be purchased for someone else. It includes instructor, student, and transaction backends, accepts multiple payment gateways (including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, and PayMill), commission tracking for instructors, certificates, badges, ratings, a page builder, master slider, and more.
It costs $59 for the regular license.
This one is built on the SmoothThemes framework and includes two custom post types called Course and Event. It also includes several plugins and features: Responsive Mega Menu, Course Builder, LayerSlider, Working Contact Form, Smart Page Builder, Unlimited Side Bar, Custom Page, Post Metabox, and more. It includes many shortcodes and custom widgets. It’s great for colleges, courses, tutorials, and more.
The regular license is $59 and the extended license is $2950.
This is a clean theme with lots of built-in features. It features a large image (known as a hero image), bold banners, animation (HTML plus JS and Lazy Load), and more. Content is displayed in a grid-based list. It includes several page templates, custom post types (Our Team, Portfolio, Services, and Testimonial), 80 shortcodes, tool tips, Google map, Back to Top button, PSD files, multiple gallery scripts, and it’s fully editable. It’s WPML ready and includes an admin panel, Bootstrap, and the Chery framework.
It costs $75.
This is a turnkey solution designed specifically for academics. It includes custom page templates and widgets to display courses (directory and details), photo galleries, staff, testimonials, etc. It’s WPML compatible. You can have both on campus and off campus courses. It has a sharp and clean design and has a nice slider. You can customize the colors any way you want.
It requires club membership at $199 which includes access to all themes.
This free theme is good for building brochure-style sites for schools. It has a nice landing page. It recommends installing Bootstrap 3 Shortcodes, Ketchup Shortcodes, and Options Framework. It will automate the install for you. These give you some modification options so you can make changes to the theme. It looks nice and loads fast. Of course it can be expanded into a full-blown school by adding plugins.
You can find more themes in our comprehensive collection of The Best School & Education WordPress Themes.
WordPress has everything you need to create any type of website a school could need whether it’s a simple brochure with a few pages of information, a detailed brochure that allows students to sign up for classes, or a school with online courses. You can build the site by hand or use a theme as a turnkey solution. You can create an amazing online school for just a few hundred dollars. WordPress makes it easy so you can focus on the important part – the courses.
Have you created a school website using WordPress? Did you use one of the solutions here or do you have something to add? Let us know in the comments.