With the end of the year looming, FinancesOnline, the popular B2B software review website, released its 2017 listing of the Best LMS platforms ― as ranked by feature set, scalability, adaptability to different environments, and other relevant metrics ― and TalentLMS came out on top.
Now, being called the “Top LMS for 2017” is a distinction we’re proud of.
But what makes for a good LMS platform in general? And what makes TalentLMS, in particular, a great choice for eLearning?
We believe we have a good grasp on the answer because we have poured a lot of energy, hard thinking, and hard work into the platform, trying to understand what business users value in an eLearning platform in general, and in TalentLMS in particular, and what makes our customers rank us so highly.
In this post, we’ll examine a few of the key characteristics and features that we’ve identified over the years as essential for the best LMS software, and explain how they make a real difference in the workflows of thousands of businesses that rely on our platform for their training.
1. Feature-full, yet intuitive
Offering a comprehensive product means implementing a great many features. Which is not that difficult to do, if you design your software to excel in LMS comparison matrices. The difficulty is in offering a comprehensive feature set that is also intuitive — as opposed to merely making it into some LMS software list.
This is a real balancing act, and maintaining this balance has always been one of our main priorities. The key is in weaving all the features on offer in such a way that the software remains accessible for the average user, and in TalentLMS we achieve this in several ways.
For starters, we provide sane defaults, meaning that the user gets a nice experience out of the box, without needing to delve into the configuration for the simplest things.
The structuring and labeling of configuration options (for when you do need to get into them) is another thing we strive to make intuitive. This means nicely laid out options, no technical jargon, and no assuming the user should be already familiar with how an LMS operates.
Maintaining a few simple consistent rules for how content and management screens are laid out also helps. Case in point the standard listing view with the familiar set of filtering, exporting, editing, etc. controls that TalentLMS uses for all of its management screens.
2. Blended learning
TalentLMS has had blended learning (aka hybrid-learning or ILT) support from the start, and it has only gotten better with each version update, making it one of the top LMS for Instructor-led training.
TalentLMS ILT Units allow users to seamlessly combine regular online learning with real-time sessions, whether in-person in a traditional classroom or as an instructor-led online webinar.
A Unit can include multiple such sessions (e.g. to handle different groups of learners using the same classroom at different hours), with automated capacity handling and automated notifications for upcoming sessions in the learner’s dashboards (as well as through email).
TalentLMS even includes its own integrated webinar and teleconference solution based on the open source Big Blue Button engine, with all the tools one might need, from video and audio group chat to virtual whiteboards and session recording.
3. eCommerce support
Along with enterprise training, which is the platform’s main focus, commercial learning (that is, the selling of online courses) is a major TalentLMS use case. In fact, over 20% of our customers use TalentLMS for learning eCommerce.
Following on the feature-full, yet intuitive theme, TalentLMS makes it easy to get started with selling your courses online, while at the same time, offering all the tools and integration options an advanced commercial learning business would need.
Selling courses in TalentLMS is so easy, that it’s not even a three-step process. Two steps will do. You just need to select a payment provider (such as PayPal or Stripe), set a price for your course, and you’re done.
If you need more, there are options for bundles, discounts, and special offers, integration with third-party stores (such as Shopify), and even subscriptions (giving you the ability to provide access to your courses through monthly or annual payments).
Last, but not least, detailed Reports and Custom Reports give TalentLMS-based eCommerce businesses insight into their sales, courses, users, and general activity.
4. Enterprise fitness
TalentLMS has been built with enterprise use in mind, meaning it was designed to be able to scale to high-level corporate training requirements and to offer the features and functionality required by such demanding environments.
This includes things like Single Sign-On, which allows businesses to integrate TalentLMS with their existing intranet and extranet properties through LDAP, Active Directory, SAML 2.0 and related authentication and authorization standards.
Then there are features like Custom User Types and Branches, that allow an organization to deploy multiple learning portals catering to different needs, all spawned and tied to their main TalentLMS account, but with autonomous configuration, user and courses management, and branding.
This is a great fit for industries and businesses with different departments, subsidiaries, regional offices across the globe, or multiple horizontal training needs (e.g. for management vs customer support).
Similarly, though, a great LMS should cater to the needs of smaller businesses, too. How? By offering a multitude of robust features in a forever-free plan!
5. Going beyond training
Many competitive LMS platforms do a decent job at training functionality but stop there. In TalentLMS we believe that a complete solution should go above and beyond the eLearning functionality, to cover the supplementary needs of a corporate training program.
Case in point, our Homepage builder. This feature gives TalentLMS users the ability to create their own pages around their training portal, and extend it into a full-blown website.
Specifically, Homepage builder is a WYSIWYG webpage manager and editor that allows customers to create custom content outside of their regular course content (complete with images and everything), give it a URL and title, order it however they want, and display it alongside their regular training homepage and course catalog pages.
Homepage builder (HB) can be used for adding informational pages, FAQs for your learners and visitors, marketing material and special promotions (for commercial learning businesses), and so on, and administrators also set whether each HB page will be displayed to logged-in users, logged-out users, or both.
Our forum feature (Discussion) is another example of such functionality, that’s peripheral to eLearning management, but solves real problems that customers engaged in corporate training have (in this case, how to have a discussion between learners and between learners and instructors, and how to build a “community of learning”).
In this post, we had a look at 5 features that our customers love. Based on reviews from G2 Crowd, other established sources and our experiences with thousands of learners and businesses, TalentLMS stands out as the best LMS for business – and one of the best LMS software options for commercial eLearning. (Don’t even take our word for it, just read one of the many great TalentLMS reviews out there!)
We believe that these features should be present in all LMS platforms, but they are of course, far from an exhaustive list of TalentLMS’ strong points. We are determined to refine those strong points, even more, improve on areas that we might currently be lacking, and keep stacking those awards in our mantelpiece.
But enough about what we think. What do you think are the best features of TalentLMS? And what would you like to see added next? Drop us a line in the comments below — we are always interested in your feedback.