E-Learning Authoring Software – Market Review 2017

Back in the day, training employees was an expensive exercise because it would normally involve one-to-one training and a lot of reading for the new employee. However, it has changed a lot in recent years due to developments in E-learning authoring software. It is now easier and more enjoyable for both parties than ever before. Whether you are currently using third-party training material or your own, new skills can be earned with ease and important employee policies can be applied. With this being said, there is still one section of training that is still quite tough and it just so happens to be the most effective of them all – custom training using E-Learning Authoring Software. Check out our  comparison between the authoring tools Articulate and Lectora.

If you are to create your very own course and training for all employees, you will need to either do extensive research on the topic or hire an expert to do it all for you. Within the market, it is easy to get confused within minutes because there are so many companies offering numerous different packages. How are you supposed to know which is right for you? How are you supposed to know which E-Learning Software Authoring Software is better than all of the others? Luckily for you, there will now be answers because we have ten of the most popular and used e-learning authoring software in summarized. In this list, we will go through all the key factors you will need to make your decision and explain which E-learning Authoring Software will serve you best according to these factors.

Our Choice – First up, we aren’t going to beat around the bush – we have two options that we think you will love because they sit atop the rest of the pile considering all the pros and cons. For our choices today, we have Trivantic Lectora Inspire as well as Articulate Storyline 2. In terms of the price, these come in at $2,200 and $1,400 respectively so do represent a bit of a difference as far as money is concerned. Above all else, we found them easy to use with a whole host of features to allow a manner of different tasks depending on the needs of the user. With this being said, we should point out that everyone’s needs are different and you might find a much better solution than these two after assessing your own.

So, we have two tools so far but what about the rest? Don’t worry, we have many more to go through including SmartBuilder, Gomo Learning, Raptivity, and iSpring Suite 8. When it comes to business content creation, every single one of the E-learning Authoring Software barring Raptivity will have everything you need. Let’s not waste any more time, let’s take a look at the key factors below!

Functionality and Features – With this conversation, it is very easy to get a little misguided because some programs will offer the core features without going any further but this is absolutely fine. Often, we get stuck looking for software that goes above and beyond without being able to appreciate the core features in place so this is important to keep in mind. When looking into the features on offer, you need to write down a list of your needs because if you want to create an engaging course or training program, video and interactivity will be crucial. With Camtasia Studio 8 and Articulate Storyline 2, you will have the ability to record video and insert it directly onto the software.

Furthermore, the ‘drag and drop’ element will be important for some people because it offers a great way to develop your course in a quicker time period. If another course has similar information, you can carry over the bulk before then making a few edits to make it relevant to your business. If you have this feature in place, the need for multiple keystrokes and code will be removed.

With most of the E-learning authoring software nowadays, you should be able to save your course in two main formats – online and local. Therefore, completed courses can be sent as links as well as files which allows for greater flexibility within a business. Once you have the file, you could send them in an email to all employees who will be taking part in the course or doing anything else you wish. The point is, you have full control over what happens to the course.

With the software at the bottom of the price list, H5P, there are still numerous options for templates which can help to get a project started in just a matter of seconds. If you do not have a designer in your ranks, templates will be essential because you can choose a pre-designed layout and get started without any fuss. When you research the different E-learning Authoring Software, you will notice that they all offer different amounts of templates because Elucidat has 25,000 templates whilst H5P has around 20.

Pricing – Next, we have a topic that we have been leaning against since the beginning and it involves the many packages, plans, and the prices of those plans. Before making a decision, you should first assess how the software is delivered. Will it be a local download or will it be Cloud-based? With Cloud-based technology, you will generally find that it is the cheaper option as well as offering a little more flexibility. For example, you will be able to access your H5P account from any device from any location in the world as long as you have your log-in details. With technology and software always moving forward, updates are also a large consideration and cloud-based solutions normally update automatically.

What’s the downside? With all of this positivity, you might be wondering what the negative is and it is that an internet connection will always be required in order to connect. When software is stored locally as seen with Camtasia Studio 8, Articulate Storyline 2, and Lectora Inspire, the download will be an application which will be available with or without the internet. If the whole office was to lose the connection, it wouldn’t be a problem because the application will still work. However, everything has a downside and for this it is the fact that you can only access it via the one system. In turn, this also means that any updates to the application also need to be completed manually and may require a fee.

Towards the lower end of the price scale, H5P is completely free and is known as an ‘open-source’ tool which is great for the smaller businesses who maybe don’t have the same budget as the larger companies. After just a matter of minutes, you can get setup and it can even plug into Drupal and WordPress. As you may have guessed, the fact that it is free means that it lacks a little in the feature department but it still provides a very good option if your main consideration is keeping costs low.

Another customer-friendly tool, SHIFT Learning, has decided to introduce a pricing model that grows with your business which is quite unique in this industry. When first starting, you can use the free trial and produce content of up to 120 screens. For the first tier, up to three courses can be produced for $1,200 per year with the next tier offering unlimited courses and even reviewers who can suggest improvements for your course. Finally, the Enterprise plan is the most expensive and it offers three users, unlimited courses, up to 30 reviewers, and much more. Negative? Only the fact that it will cost $8,500 per year!

As expensive as this may sound, there is one basic tier tool that charges $7,500 per year (for a standard package!) and that is Elucidat. Furthermore, Articulate Storyline 2 also only offers one single package and it can cost $1,400 for one license. With this in mind, it is easy to see that SHIFT Learning, Articulate Storyline 2, and Elucidat are the most expensive options in the market and should be avoided if cost is the most important factor for you. If you have the potential to afford these packages, know that they are also among the most capable tools in the market. Overall, they have been built for the larger companies who regularly need training programs in development. Considering its ease of use, we believe that Articulate Storyline 2 offers the best price for the E-learning Authoring Software. If scalability is important, SHIFT Learning is the one for you.

Finally, we should also mention TechSmith Camtasia and this is somewhat difficult to judge and compare because it is just $299. After a fifth license is purchased, there is also an opportunity to make huge discounts but it has been designed as a tool for video purposes. If your main focus will be creating your own videos, by all means go for Camtasia as it is cheap and functional.

Capabilities – Ultimately, all of the authoring software we have discussed so far have unique touches that make them worthwhile and the ability to import PowerPoint slides is a big one. For e-learning, you may already have a number of existing PowerPoint presentations so having this function can make your life a whole lot easier. Although many we have mentioned have this capability, SHIFT Learning and H5P do not which means that they will need to be transferred manually into a new document.

Next up, images will also be important and Articulate Storyline 2 has a deep media content library just in case you do not have access to a stock image website; Trivantis Lectora Inspire and Elucidat are also worth a mention for their amount of images here. With thousands of business-related media, you will find something for all topics and it can help to keep the training engaging for viewers. Although H5P does not offer any images in this way, we should remember that it is a free tool for all.

For some, embedding webpages will also be important. If you were unaware, this means that the employee can click on a simple link within the training and visit an entire website; with these links straight from the e-learning system, it can help to keep things easy. Of all the tools we have mentioned, the only three to enable this feature are Elucidat, Trivantis Lectora Inspire, and Articulate Storyline 2.

For those who want to be able to break free from the confines of HTML5, your options are fairly limited and you will have to choose between less than half of our top ten we are discussing today – Trivantis Lectora Inspire, Articulate Storyline 2, SmartBuilder, and Elucidat. As you can see, those first two names are cropping up regularly which is why we named them as our favorite two at the very beginning. With the other E-Learning Authoring Software, you will have to work with strict templates but this is normally fine for beginners or those who do not use these types of software often.

Finally, we have one last capability and this is screen recording; is this something you are going to need? Surprisingly, despite videos and recording software being all over the internet and on new devices, it isn’t available on all E-Learning Authoring software. For those who need to explain complex systems and for the recipients that learn best by being shown, videos are a plus. Many E-Learning Authoring Software including H5P and Elucidat, do not allow for video recording so you will need a separate tool. Considering Elucidat is extremely easy to use and boasts many fantastic features, this is a shame and a negative on an otherwise positive package.

Unique Features – Before we go and let you get on with your day, we will just mention some unique features that some tools offer. Although these aren’t quite as important as the core features, they can make your experience more enjoyable and reliable. For Articulate Storyline 2, it has been designed primarily for PowerPoint users and the similarities between the two are clear to see. With this in mind, it makes the tool easy to pick up and just get started in moments. Furthermore, there are a whole host of quizzing options as well as markers and buttons that can be used to layer images, text, and even videos. If you need a question answering, a multiple choice question can even be placed within the course.

Example – If you wanted to find out the health of your employees via questions regarding sleep, diet, and exercise, this can be achieved with ease. After adding the answers together, you could have predetermined results from unhealthy to extremely healthy depending on what answers they gave. Additionally, we should also state that the screen recorder on Storyline 2 is among the best E-Learning Authoring Software, not just out of these options but on the internet. During a presentation, all sorts of effects can be used to keep the viewer engaged and keep them focusing on the right areas of the screen.

Of course, we also mentioned Trivantis Lectora Inspire as one of our favorite E-Learning Authoring Software so we should also talk a little bit about why. Firstly, the video editing is comprehensive and there are numerous templates which makes it easy for both beginners and experts alike. Also, this E-Learning Authoring Software allows for integration with Camtasia from TechSmith for even more freedom with videos. In terms of price, Storyline 2 finds itself on the cheaper side. However, you will be able to try them both in their free trial before making a decision and, once again, assessing your needs.

Next, Elucidat provides a strong option with its modern, welcoming interface and simple navigation. Once you select your template, the pages can be added without too much trouble and text as well as images can be edited into courses within the chosen template. For beginners, Elucidat is a favorite E-Learning Authoring Software, because it guides you through the process. When you go to finish a project, for example, instructional videos will show just in case you need them. Perhaps best of all, the responsive slider will allow you to preview pages to see how they act on specific devices. Once you know that it looks good on all platforms, you can move forward with confidence.

Throughout this market review for 2017, we have mentioned many different e-learning authoring software and most will give you a pleasant experience; we say ‘most’ because Raptivity is likely to lead to confusion, frustration, and a lack of motivation. When researching, be sure to check the price tags attached since they can be very different to one another and remember your needs – there is no point picking a tool just because we have said how good it is if it will not help you with your project. If you want to create videos, Camtasia will do great. If you need a more extensive tool, look into one of the other options. Over time, we will continue to provide you with superb content as technology continues to improve. For now, thanks for reading and good luck with all future projects! Also have a look at our overview with a top 7 authoring tools.