What should I be looking for in an LMS portal?

There are plenty of off the shelf LMS portal options to choose from. However, a lot of them don’t let you customise and brand them to fit your needs.

If you are just looking for a single course, such as a GDPR compliance course, then a non-branded Learning Management System would suffice.

However, if you are wanting to create a blended approach to L&D, to support career development and continuous personal development, then customising and branding an LMS portal is essential.

Should I Create an LMS Portal From Scratch?

It is a very costly and time-consuming process to create your own Learning Management System. The biggest cost is maintaining it and development it. Technology is still improving at such a fast pace and the world of online learning and development is no exception.

If you have specific needs from a Learning Management System then you have two options:

1) Go with one of the bigger LMS providers who will possibly have what you are looking for.

2) Go with an agile LMS provider, use their standard LMS portal and add on your custom functionality.

It is very rare to find a big LMS provider who is willing to customise it for your needs.

Who Can Benefit From a Customised LMS portal?

Single companies: Any company who wants their employees to feel as though they are experiencing a tailored training programme,. One that has been created by head office.

Multi-tenant organisation: Companies with multiple brands can add content from a single admin LMS portal. Then push that content out to multiple, individually branded, learner focused LMS portals.

White labelling resellers: Digital training providers and eLearning authoring companies who want to offer their “own” Learning Management System.

Training providers: Individual training companies who offer face to face training. They want an LMS that can deliver blended training to their customers.

Why You Should Add Your Company Branding to Your LMS Portal?

Encourages trust: Branding your LMS portal will help your employees trust it and feel it’s a safe system to use. If they see a generic/3rd party branded product, they are less likely to want to use it.

More word of mouth: Your employees or students are more likely to talk about the LMS and recommend it, if it looks and feels like the company owns it.

Better engagement: Your employees will be prouder of the LMS and more engaged with it, if it feels part of the company.

How do I brand an LMS Portal?

All LMS providers differ but they tend to give you one or both of the following services:

DIY Service: Where you are given access to the branding module of your LMS portal. Typically, you can change the logo and colour mix used in the LMS.

Client Service (Customer Success department): Better LMS providers will also give you a dedicated contact who will set up and customise your LMS.

What are the top 5 customisable features you should look for in an LMS portal?

Colour mix and logo: Nothing says “my Brand” more than adding your own logo and your own colour palette!

Email notifications: If you are sending out messages from your LMS, such as welcome emails or course reminders, then the ability to brand them and edit the messages is important.

Terminology: Do you have employees or team members? Do you have Line Managers or Supervisors? The ability to change all the words on your LMS is a great way of fine tuning the perfect look and feel for your company.

Dashboard: Don’t create too much noise for your leaners. Learning Management Systems tend to come with a lot of features. However, you won’t need them all, certainly not to begin with. Customise the site so users don’t get confused by things they don’t need to see.

Languages: Multi-national companies and training providers often want a learning management system to be translated into multiple languages. It is a good question to ask potential LMS providers even if your current training needs don’t require multiple languages.

Those are the 5 most asked questions around customisation of an LMS. There are plenty of other things you could look out for too, including a dedicated URL for your LMS.

What is more important: The Content or the LMS?

With the increasing demand for a mobile app to support the more traditional delivery of eLearning content via a web browser, content has become King in the delivery of eLearning courses.

Mobile devices can do a lot of things but their screen size does dictate how learners interact with them.

eLearning authoring has gone down the route of simple interactivity with swiping and tapping/clicking on smart phones. Instead of fancy interactions on laptops and PCs.

Just think of how you use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is the content that holds your interest, rather than the way you are interacting with the site.

So, eLearning content is arguably more important than the LMS portals delivering it.

Off the shelf content can be beneficial for the small number of employees who are naturally proactive when it comes to devouring learning content but a customised eLearning course is going to hold a student’s attention far more than a generic course.

What features does a good LMS have?

The answer to this really should be “the ones your network need”. Some of the ones below should be taken into consideration.

LMS Blended learning capabilities: It is importat to mix classroom training (ILT) and virtual classroom training (VILT) alongside eLearning courses on a learning management system. Blended learning is a combination of learning methods, where students independently learn at their own pace and with an instructor.

LMS Advanced Reporting: The Learning Management System should track, assess, and monitor learner progress. It should have powerful reporting capabilities including generating standard reports with filters and custom reports as well.

The LMS should generate standard and customized reports while allowing the administrator to automate them on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even biannual schedule.

Administrators should be able to manage the LMS’s advanced reporting features and set-up advanced reports with just a few clicks!

LMS Portal

LMS Notifications: A Learning Management System should give a master administrator the ability to edit email notifications and reminder templates.

LMS Portal

LMS Document Management: A Learning Management System should have a Knowledge Repository or Document Management section. These are similar to a mini document management or performance support feature.

Knowledge repositories allow administrators to add and store reference materials in a central location, making it easily accessible for learners.

LMS Portal

LMS Mobile app: Mobile learning and its importance in blended learning methods has grown alongside the growth in smartphone useage. A good Learning Management System should come with a learning app or a compact device version of the LMS.

It allows learners the flexibility to learn on the go. Furthermore, a good LMS App should have an online and an offline mode, with the ability to download content.

LMS Portal

LMS Modern UI and Intuitive UX: A Learning Management System needs to be simple and easy to use. With a clean design if you want your students to have a good experience.

LMS Portal

LMS Certification and Retraining: Certification comes handy in instances where specialised training and skill are involved. Compliance and safety is another area where certification is critical. A Learning Management System with powerful certification features is very useful for easing the burden on Training and Compliance teams.

LMS Portal

LMS Gamification: Learner engagement is key to increasing and maintaining continued usage of a Learning Management System. Returning students are very important because it essentially indicates a growing culture of learning and development within your organization.

A good Learning Management System will have an easy-to-use gamification feature that acts as an extension to traditional post-training certificates. It should associate learning material completions with badges, points, and peer linked leader boards.

LMS Portal

LMS Learning Paths: A Learning Management System needs to support the creation of larger training curriculum with learning paths. Learning paths, also called programs or learning plans, provide administrators with the ability to construct a journey for students. Usually towards the completion of a learning goal.

LMS Portal

LMS Custom Learner Dashboard: A Learning Management System should allow you to customise your learner dashboard and switch features on and off. Or to re-order them to ensure the right information is accessible with a minimum number of clicks.

Customised LMS dashboards ensure students are engaged and viewing only the most important information to them. As a result, administrators can arrange these widgets to capture the attention of students when broadcasting important messages.

Will an LMS improve Learning & Development in my company?

You need to think of a Learning Management System as the courier who brings you the new winter jumper you ordered online.

If the courier fails to deliver on time, your perception of the new winter jumper becomes a negative one. It is not just the courier but also the supplier who suffers from your negative experience. The delivery issue is possibly nothing to do with the jumper supplier, but you don’t differentiate between the two.

What is more important, when you finally get the jumper, is that you like the colour, it fits, and it keeps you warm!

In summary, whilst an LMS is important in helping you improve learning and development, it is not the most important thing and you shouldn’t just focus on that.

The learning culture you create is equally (if not more) important to achieving good learner engagement. If a new employee starts, is assigned a learning path to help them learn the skills to be great at their job, but your existing employees talk negatively about the training and education you provide. You are going to struggle to up skill your new emloyee, no matter how fancy looking your LMS is.

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on online learning?

When the economy is struggling and a business needs to look at cost cutting, Learning & Development budgets are often one of the first areas to feel the pressure.

LMS Portal

In Spring 2020, the focus for most companies was on how to handle furloughing of staff. Or how to carry on trading with as few staff in the office and stores as possible.

Soon afterwards, Learning & Development departments started to plan for the long term cultural changes at work, casued by COVID-19.

We now see a much more flexible approach to working hours and remote working. The need to support staff remotely has become an imporant focus for HR and L&D departments. As a reulst there is a lot more attention on Learning Management Systems to support the training needs of employees who are working remotely.

Integration with video conferencing systems, (such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams) and LMS portals has had to rapidly develop. It has become a new norm for company educators as a way to communicate with learners.

How can a Learning Management System Increase ROI of L&D Programs?

When your senior executives can easily see the relationship between training and business results, you are more likely to get their attention. Not only their attention, but their commitment and budget allocation!

However it is not easy to accurately determine the direct financial impact improved employee education has on a business.

A good model to use is Jack Phillips’s 5 Level ROI Methodology

0 – Inputs: How much was invested in the LMS and eLearning programme?How many employees did you educate?

1 – Reaction: Did the learners like the training?

2 – Learning: What knowledge and skills did they get?

3 – Behaviour: Do they use it at work?

4 – Results: What impact did the training have on the company?

5 – ROI: Did the training pay off?

Please contact us to discuss how to set your goals and measure the success of all these levels.


This topic is too subjective to do it justice only in a blog. It is more beneficial to share thoughts and ideas around it with other Learning and Development professionals.

If you would like to discuss LMS portals and Learning Management support options, please contact us, email: info@elamb.co.uk or follow us on LinkedIn.

If you would like a demo or free trial of our portals, please contact us for an informal discussion.

Thank you.

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