A slow LMS could be something that affects your course compilation rate, increases churn and eventually costs you money as frustrated learners may seek refunds. In other words, slow LMS platforms can negatively impact user engagement and the overall success of your online course. In this blog, we’ll explore the potential culprits behind your slow LMS and discuss what you can do to improve the performance of your system.
If you’re looking for an agency to speed up your LMS affordably, check out our LMS Audit service page. Our audits are designed to evaluate your learning management system to provide a path for you to fix outstanding speed and performance issues.
Key Reasons Behind A Slow LMS
The following reasons are often the main contributing factors to slow LMS platforms:
- Unscalable architecture: Certain technologies aren’t performant, particularly at a larger scale. We often refer to this as the scalability issue.
- Overloaded server: When too many users access the LMS simultaneously, the server can become overwhelmed and slow down.
- Unoptimised media files: Large files like images and videos can slow down your LMS if not optimised for web use.
- Inefficient or poorly optimised code: Poorly written code can cause your LMS to run slowly, especially on mobile devices and with users that have slower internet speed.
- Bloat: Having too many off-the-shelf plugins or loading libraries with tons of unutilised features could seriously slow down your learning management system. We often see bloat issues with unscalable technologies.
How this issue can impact your eLearning Business
A slow LMS can cause a range of issues for your business at different levels:
- User frustration and disengagement. Learners may become frustrated with a slow LMS and less likely to engage with your course content.
- Decreased learning outcomes. Slow LMS platforms can negatively impact learning outcomes, reducing your course’s effectiveness.
- Reduced ROI and revenue. A slow LMS can result in a higher churn rate, leading to missed revenue targets and wasted marketing ad budget.
- Inefficient Processes. Too many hacky workarounds and excessive use of one-size-fits-all plugins lead to inefficiencies on the operational level. From our experience with 100s of audits, we concluded that most LMSs that are built on open-source architecture use a mix of workarounds and bloated plugins to compensate for the lack of core functionalities. That is not to say LearnDash isn’t scalable; it is (to a degree and up until a point), but most LMS agencies pick the easy route of using off-the-shelf plugins as opposed to creating bespoke functionalities.
- Increased pressure on your support team: In some cases, your LMS may become unavailable or some features may not work as intended. That’s when your support time may get inundated with tickets.
Why you should optimise your LMS Now!
As time goes by, it becomes necessary to add new features to stay competitive. You might consider implementing features like discussion boards, gamification, and others to keep things interesting. However, adding these features without proper development can put a strain on your system, which could lead to a negative impact on everyone’s experience, from users to admins. The issue becomes exasperated when you onboard new learners and your active users grow. So in a sense, you’ll be penalised for growth!
Increased pressure on support, L&D and admins will take your focus from improvements to putting out fires.
How to Optimise a Slow LMS
1-Consider Moving From OpenSource to a Bespoke System.
If you’re on a SaaS solution, chances are you can feel the pain and frustration of having to rely on a large corporate rolling-out feature that may or may not fit your use cases. You also have to deal with excessive per-user fees and hidden costs on video hostings and etc. The support is also limited and may not be quick or to the depth that your business needs.
In this case, your best option is to move to a better system. To help you choose wisely, we have written a blog on selecting the best LMS; make sure to give it a read.
LeanrDash, Open Edx and other open-source platforms are among the ones we see to struggle with performance issues. As we discussed in this blog, an open-source LMS isn’t necessarily equal to a slow LMS. It takes a certain expertise to take advantage of the freedom that comes with an OpenSource. However, for companies serious about growth and building a good foundation, you should seriously consider a fully bespoke LMS built on easy-to-scale and lightweight language. Here at Plume, we have to do exactly that.
Book Your LMS Audit To See How we can improve the performance.
We’d also like to make a distinction here; you can greatly customise open source systems such as LearnDash and call it custom LMS. However, when we discuss fully bespoke, we’re referring to a proprietary LMS that is built around your exact needs. Learn more about our custom LMS services.
2- Optimise Your Server Resources
An overloaded server with too many requests can cause a slow LMS. When too many users access the LMS simultaneously, the server can become overwhelmed and slow down. This can be addressed by upgrading to a more powerful server.
You can upgrade a server by scaling it vertically or horizontally. Vertical scaling involves increasing the resources available to the server, such as adding more CPU or RAM, to handle the increased load. This approach can be practical but has limitations, as there is a limit to how much a server can be scaled vertically. Horizontal scaling, on the other hand, involves adding more servers to distribute the load across multiple machines.
This approach can be more scalable and cost-effective in the long run, as additional servers can be added as needed to handle increasing user traffic. However, horizontal scaling requires more advanced configuration and management to ensure the load is evenly distributed among the servers.
Pick the right server that is highly compatible with your LMS technology. A LearnDash LMS serving 1000 users doesn’t have the exact hosting requirements as one custom-built to help millions of users.
👉 Learn more about Video Hosting for your LMS.
3-Optimise large media files
Large media files, such as images and videos, can hinder your LMS performance if not optimised for web use. To maintain quality while reducing file size, you can compress images and videos. For images, you should consider converting them into WEBP & JPEG 2000 depending on the original image (WEBP for PNG & JPEG 2000 for JPEG).
For videos specifically, you can use tools such as HandBrake to optimise your videos before uploading them. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to avoid self-hosting as it consumes significant server storage. Hosting videos on an external server or a video streaming service like Vimeo Pro can also reduce the load on your LMS and improve its performance as those providers use appropriate compression algorithms and provide you with a fast-loading video, essential for your LMS speed optimisation.
Another potential solution is using Content Delivery Network (CDN) to store and deliver your media files, which can help reduce the load on your LMS and improve the speed and reliability of your content delivery.
Do it right from the get-go.
The best solution is to hire the right developers or agency to ensure your LMS project is executed efficiently from the beginning. Adequate funding should also be provided to avoid cutting corners and compromising the quality of your project. Additionally, it’s crucial to allocate the right amount of time and effort into developing a clean codebase depending on the stage of your product. For instance, MVPs can be developed inexpensively with less emphasis on perfect code, whereas MLPs require more conscientious development practices.
Move beyond your MVP:
Another common pitfall is that businesses tend to stick with their suboptimal MVP for too long, even after achieving product-market fit. In such cases, it’s best to redo the MVP with a suitable focus on performance to meet user expectations and provide a better user experience.
Using proper caching and minifying assets:
Reducing CPU Intensive Tasks: JS execution is CPU-intensive. By deferring the JS, you can avoid CPU spikes during the initial page load, providing a smoother experience for users.
Combining CSS and JS Code:
Fewer HTTP Requests: Every separate CSS or JS file results in an additional HTTP request when the page loads. By combining multiple CSS or JS files into one, you can significantly reduce the number of HTTP requests, resulting in faster page loads. This is especially important in an LMS where there might be various plugins or modules contributing separate CSS/JS files.
Enhanced Caching: Consolidating files allows for more effective use of the browser’s cache capabilities. One larger file can be cached instead of several smaller ones, ensuring quicker subsequent page loads for the user.
Minification: When combining files, it’s also a good practice to minify them. Minification involves eliminating superfluous elements, such as extra spaces and remarks, from the original code while preserving its operations. This method can considerably trim down the bulk of your CSS and JS files, accelerating their retrieval speeds.
Less Overhead: Fewer files also mean less overhead in terms of metadata and HTTP headers. This further contributes to quicker page load times.
4- Tackle the bloat issue
Large plugins that load libraries with unnecessary features can cause your LMS to slow down as these unutilised features still load at the same time with the rest of your code. To address this, consider reviewing your plugins and libraries and removing unnecessary features. The result is smaller but more functional feature sets that are highly performant. In addition to performance issues, off-the-shelf plugins are designed with one size fit all methodology and thus if you’re serious about scaling, you should consider bespoke plugins to achieve both better speed and more tailored functionality.
Keep it simple & Clean
During the design and development phase, try to limit the number of active assets on your pages. Too many blocks or irrelevant features can unnecessarily slow down your site. Instead, focus on adding only the essential blocks that support your courses and teaching. This will improve loading times and increase clarity and engagement for your learners. In addition, keeping it simple and streamlining your course pages can create a more effective and efficient learning experience.
Turn off extra add-ons and just-in-case features.
You may have some features designed for a particular scenario that doesn’t happen that often, or perhaps you thought your learners would be interested in them, but they aren’t. In those cases, a review of feature-benefit vs cost-load could help you determine which feature or add-ons should be turned off for good.
A slow LMS can negatively impact user engagement, learning outcomes, nd the overall success of your training materials. We covered the reasons behind a slow LMS and the steps you can take to improve performance. It’s essential to regularly monitor your LMS and adjust as needed to ensure it remains fast and responsive. Remember that a fast LMS can help attract and retain more learners, improve learning outcomes, and increase ROI. So, take the time to optimise your LMS now and enjoy the benefits of a faster and more efficient system in the future.
Are you tired of a slow LMS system that frustrates you and your learners? Slow LMS platforms can negatively impact user engagement, revenue and the overall success of your online course. In this blog, we’ll explore the potential culprits behind your slow LMS and what you can do to improve the performance of your system.
Reasons for slow LMS platforms:
- Unscalable architecture
- Overloaded server
- Unoptimised media files
- Inefficient or poorly optimised code
Best practices for maintaining a fast LMS:
- If you currently use a SaaS LMS, it may be beneficial to switch to an open-source technology. If you’re already using an open-source LMS, then you may want to consider investing in a fully customised LMS to ensure long-term growth and support.
- Regularly monitor server performance: Keeping an eye on your server performance can help you catch and address any issues before they become a significant problem.
- Optimise images and videos before uploading: Optimising your media files can help reduce load times and improve the overall performance of your LMS.
- Test your LMS on multiple devices and browsers: Testing your LMS on different devices and browsers can help you identify and address any compatibility issues.
- Keep software up-to-date and regularly maintain code: Periodically updating your LMS software and maintaining your code can help keep your system running smoothly.