This is a Thinkific Review with detailed information and clarification about its unique features, pricing, PROs & CONs, Tutorials, and our expert opinion to help you decide whether this online course creation platform is right for you.
Experts estimated that the online learning management industry would surge by over $243 billion before the end of 2023. Today, the learning management industry is one of the biggest industries for investors. You’ve probably heard of skill learning websites like Thinkific, Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera, Treehouse, etc.
These websites have one thing in common; they are skill-learning websites. They offer classes for pretty much any skill (except for the more technical ones like medicine or law), and you learn these skills at an affordable price.
What makes them different is the type of courses they offer and their approach. If you’ve visited Skillshare, you’ll notice that it focuses on creative classes like art or fashion. Udemy and Treehouse, on the other hand, are famous for tech skills like programming.
So what about Thinkific? Let’s take an in-depth look at it. We will look at its UI/UX, functionality or features, support, and maybe some data, then balance it with pros and cons.
Without any further ado, let’s dive right into it.
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Thinkific Review: What is Thinkific
Thinkific is an online course creation platform where skilled professionals provide classes to learners with experiences across the board. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, Thinkific states that it offers something for you. Some users consider Thinkific as the most practical massive open online course (MOOC) platform. (source)
To provide a complete and carefully curated review of Thinkific, I had to offer an incredibly “advanced” course on well something. After racking my brain several times, I inevitably came up with a sample course that could provide this review with a level of substance.
This sample course will aid me with screenshots and illustrations for me to show you how seamless it is to create courses with Thinkific.
Thinkific Review: The Setting Up Process
Getting started on Thinkific was easy. They offered a four-step process to help you create your teaching business. They focused on creating a brand image for the “client.” That was the first impact I got from the creation process; it wants you to help you become a brand.
Furthermore, your teaching experience did not matter. So long as you wanted to create a course, you could do it. It offered tools for the novice teacher and the advanced expert. So even if you have a base knowledge of metal detecting, you can make an account. No traditional education credentials are needed. I think that’s a powerful option on its own.
Does teaching material matter when you’re creating the course? It doesn’t matter whether you have zero or a dozen teaching videos or material; you can set up your account and continue building on it.
After completing the setup process, Thinkific greets you with this screen. It showcases all the tools you’ll need to get your eLearning course off the ground.
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Thinkific Review: Pre-course Creation Process
Thinkific offers “milestones” for course creators. Here’s a rundown of these milestones:
- Getting started with course creation
- Planning your course
- Creating your course
- Launching your course
The first step in that process is creating a course. Before getting started, I made some “top tier” content that I believed would add to my school. I didn’t expect the mandatory videos I had to watch to get my school on the world wide web.
I understand the concept. The people behind Thinkific want you to launch a successful online course from the starting line. And if you want fantastic results from your school, why not put in the effort and watch the four videos? I think it’s a great initiative, but making them mandatory in the course creation process can put off many creators.
So how did the course creation process (including the videos and workbooks) aid my sample course?
Honestly, I preferred making the decisions with the workbook. I can’t speak for everyone, but I work better with written words. The workbooks are, honestly, my favorite touch in the entire process. You can expect a detailed, beginner-friendly workbook to help you build your school from the ground up.
Here’s a snippet of my completed Content Creation Plan Workbook.
Thinkific Review: Course Creation Process
With the fundamentals in place, I can begin to create my course. The process took a while, but I think having the workbook content sets the scene.
The course creation window is slightly different and pretty straightforward. You can upload any material type from videos, PDFs, Powerpoint presentations, etc. I uploaded a presentation; you can record audio and video alongside the Powerpoint presentation. I found that very nifty for my course.
There are some options that are available to both the pro-version and the free-version of Thinkific. Here’s how it looked after I uploaded my introductory chapter.
But the pro version offers additional lesson settings. Regardless, you can still set up your school with the free version.
Let me give you a breakdown of the different learning mediums.
Thinkific Review: Presentations
It was easy to upload my external pptx. files and Thinkific breaks the slides down, allowing you to record audio or videos on each PowerPoint slide. The importing process was also just as simple. I imported a PowerPoint in PDF format, and Thinkific registered each “page” as a “slide.” I found that impressive. I believe the same should apply to pptx files.
Thinkific Review: Quizzes
Creating a quiz was equally as easy. The quiz creation process is pretty straightforward.
You have a section to input your question, answer, and other choices. You also get a pick between explanative answers and multiple-choice. After creating a question, you might need to save it. I conducted a test and left the quiz unsaved for a couple of hours. When I returned and refreshed the page, my question was gone, but the answers remained. I assume that applies to every aspect of the course creation process. Ensure that you save everything before leaving the page.
That’s why there’s a big save button at the top. I was simply curious as to what happened if I didn’t save some content.
Thinkific Review: Multimedia
This lesson medium is Thinkific’s way of including third-part programs in your school. You can use Google Docs, webinar tools, surveys, etc. Essentially, you’re hosting external content. I was confused when I first used an external link to my course. There wasn’t any notification telling me what was happening in the background.
Was Thinkific extracting the course details from my external source? I had no indicator. I pressed save, and the button went grey. That was it. I sat there waiting for a sign. I refreshed the page, and my external link didn’t work. Maybe it was my link? I had no way of knowing whether or not the issue was with my link or Thinkific. The plot thickens.
Thinkific Review: Extra Assessments
Exams and Assignments are the additional assessment tools that Thinkific offers. Unfortunately, you can’t access those tools or features with the free version. You will have to upgrade your subscription.
Thinkific Review: Additional Learning Mediums
Thinkific offers other learning tools or mediums, or features (whatever you want to call them). You can try them for some time and assess whether they fit into your school. Thinkific refers to these “additional learning mediums” as their Learning App Store. Let’s take a look at some of these apps.
Thinkific Review: The Learning App Store
Thinkific’s Learning App Store is similar to Adobe’s Marketplace. It’s a place you can access ‘plugins’ for your school. Thinkific categorizes the plugins for your pleasure, and you can choose whichever one you want. The efficiency of the plugins depends on their necessity to your site and your utilization.
Some plugins are great for students, and others help you as the course creator. I especially liked Segment by Thinkific. It allows you to make better decisions according to your student data.
Please note that some apps come with a free version, and others require you to splurge a bit. I don’t think that all the apps are necessary, and you can do without some of them. However, that’s just a personal preference.
I won’t name any names, but I think Thinkific’s UI does a great job of streamlining both the creator’s and student’s experience. Pop-ups are nice and extra buttons can be great to improve your website, but as a starting point, I think it’s unnecessary.
Thinkific Review: The Bulk Importer
But what if you had your course sitting somewhere else? It could be in your cloud or your hard drive. That’s where the bulk importer comes in. I found this tool relatively efficient for that massive pptx. files or pdf files that house the pre-existing course material you have.
I uploaded a massive folder (1GB folder to be precise) from my hard drive, and the importer handled it well. I was impressed by how efficient and fast it imported the content.
Thinkific Review: Website Settings
I was unsure whether to touch on the website settings, but several features stuck out, and I think you should know a couple of these features.
- First off, the SEO setting. This setting is one I think most creators will overlook without the proper understanding of SEO and its importance to the search engine algorithm.
You want your students to type in keywords and find your school immediately. This setting will set you up for that, and you cannot overlook it. I researched other Thinkific course creators. I used keywords to find their schools. As I expected, their courses were the first thing on my screen. It shows the power of SEO and how important this setting is to your school.
Some settings require you to have the pro version of Thinkific. I realized I could execute just as efficiently with the free version, but I wouldn’t mind paying for some of the pro settings.
- You can also upload your course image and description. If you used the preview button, things didn’t look put together at first. Thanks to the settings page, you can put in those fine details that turn your rusty crusty school into a one-of-a-kind source of education for online students. It might be a small addition, but I loved that Thinkific gave you the exact pixel dimensions for the course image. Not many site builders give you that luxury.
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Next on the menu is pricing. The setup process was unbelievably easy. I used PayPal since it’s one of the best money transfer apps in the world. You can’t go wrong with it. I input my details, and voila, my PayPal was up and running in less than a minute.
Thinkific also offers Stripe. Stripe and PayPal do the same thing except for their execution. I believe either one of these Payment options should apply to users across the globe.
If you’re using the free version of Thinkific, you can only access One-Time payments. If you want a subscription or a monthly payment plan, you will have to upgrade to the pro plan.
Writing out the price tag was just as easy. There was nothing complicated about the process, and I was happy with the pricing of my “art” class.
Below is a brief of the various Thinkific pricing plans:
- The free plan (Costs Nothing)
- The Start plan starts at $99 per month or $74 per month (when billed annually).
- The Grow plan is priced at $199 per month or $149 per month (when billed annually).
- The Expand plan starts at $499 per month or $374 per month (when billed annually).
- The Plus plan (The Thinkific website does not provide pricing information.)
Thinkific Review: The Site Builder
After you’ve created the core of your school’s learning material, priced it, and made all the necessary back-end decisions. It’s time to work on the front end. The front end is essentially the appearance of your website on mobile or desktop.
You’ll add buttons, background images, fix the headers, work on your navigation bars, etc. It’s the overall UI/UX design but simplified. That is the purpose of the site builder if the name didn’t give it away already.
I liked that you can toggle with the logo’s size after uploading it. I wasn’t a fan of how the logo looked even after copious amounts of time trying to work on it. But that’s a personal design choice.
Some people may enjoy working with a logo. I, for one, did not like its execution.
I wished I could change the color of the header once I was on the site builder, but it followed the pre-determined colors I chose in the beginning. I looked for a way to change the color, but it fell short. It is the small things.
The java code I applied on the Settings page did show up. Not in the way I wanted (but that might be on me), but it showed up proving that it did indeed work.
As I worked my way through the landing page, it reminded me of the Wix site builder. If you have previous experience working with Wix, then using the Thinkific site builder should be a walk in the park.
I liked that Thinkific offered different types of sections for you to add to your landing page. Since it is a different site builder from what I’m used to (credits to WordPress and Wix), I had to take my time learning the ins and outs.
I finally found where I could change the color of my site. I was happy that I could copy and paste the color hex. It made things smoother and easier for me during the site creation process. Here’s a snippet of the results.
The toggle between fullscreen editing, desktop editing, and mobile editing was also a welcomed addition to the process. I could switch between these modes with a click, and that’s pretty helpful. You can make things differently (like color and fonts) in both the desktop and mobile versions.
That’s a pretty handy tool to have, but for the sake of branding, it wouldn’t be ideal to have different-looking sites on mobile and desktop. I liked how the mobile version of the site was easy to navigate and friendly to mobile users.
So far, we’ve covered Thinkific from the creators’ perspective, but what about the learners? Before publishing your school, you can preview the site on both desktop and mobile.
I should point out that Thinkific is for course creators. Your learners’ experience relies on how you (the creator) build the website and offers the content.
From this review, Thinkific aims to create “brands” out of their course creators by giving them all the necessary tools to create a successful course.
Your learners depend on you to create the best foundation for their educative journey.
Thinkific Review: Support
App Support is sometimes the make or break of a customer’s experience. App Support should be efficient, helpful, and fast. Before we indulge in ticket submissions to Thinkific Support, we can give credit where it’s due.
I found that Thinkific’s FAQ section and bot functioned relatively well. The FAQ section offered quick and efficient answers for most queries, and the Thinkific bot (its name was Champ) was equally as helpful.
What if you wanted to speak to a customer representative? You can contact support every weekday during standard working hours. You could send them an email, discuss your ticket over voice chat, or use the chatbot to exchange quick messages.
I also looked at Thinkific’s social media (specifically Twitter), and they have an active social media presence. Sometimes, the person behind the keyboard will respond to queries or mentions.
I also noticed that what I’m assuming to be the support team responds to respond to reviews and queries on Trust Pilot. If users (creators or learners) experienced issues with the site, a helpful response would soon follow.
Fortunately, there are FAQs and posts for both Thinkific creators and learners. So, if you ever come across an issue or even a bug, you can reach out to Thinkific and they will get back to you. It won’t be immediate but there will be feedback.
Thinkific Pros And Cons
Thinkific comes with its own share of good and bad. There is a lot of good, and I believe some of it does balance out. Let’s take a look at some of the pros behind Thinkific.
- Quick and easy sign-up process.
- Thinkific focuses on branding and creating a successful online course.
- It offers Free and Premium versions.
- The Free version is capable of launching your online school.
- The people at Thinkific strive to educate their course creators at every step.
- The Learning App Store makes it easier to add components to your website.
- The process of installing apps from the LAP (Learning App Store) is easy and quick.
- Once you’ve created and built your site, you can easily publish it.
- You can connect your PayPal or Stripe in under three minutes. As long as your PayPal is active and verified by PayPal, there shouldn’t be any problems.
- Thinkific offers FAQ sections and posts to help course creators and learners across the board.
- The Thinkific Online Course Creation Process is extremely helpful and each achievement feels like a reward.
- Pretty much anyone can open their course and share whatever type of knowledge they want.
- Highly recommended for anyone that is new to online course creation.
- The pre-course creation process is long, and the mandatory videos can dissuade new course creators.
- The site doesn’t automatically save your content. You must save your content before moving on to any stages.
- There is a bit of a learning curve when using the site builder and other back-end tools. People with zero experience might not utilize these tools effectively.
- You can only access some core education elements with the upgraded Premium version.
- Thinkific Support will get back to you, however, it won’t be as immediate as some people might like.
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Thinkific and Teachable swim in the same industry waters. They have the same type of audience and want people to use their platforms to offer online courses.
For those that didn’t know, Teachable is another site that offers online course creation for professionals. You can think of these two websites as “packages” to your course content. The question is, which one does it better?
When you first interact with either of these two websites, Thinkific does stand out. They both do the same thing albeit differently, but Thinkific’s approach gives client’s a more professional feel. Maybe it’s the bold blue colors or the step-by-step process that greets you.
I didn’t go through a pre-course creation approach with Teachable. But what stood out for me with Thinkific were the Course Creation Plan Workbooks. I found them helpful, and they allowed me to create a plan for my online course. I guess that’s Thinkific’s way of preparation before launch.
I did find some steps tedious but the workbooks were a step in the right direction.
With Thinkific, everything felt streamlined. It was a step-by-step process that continued from the pre-course creation process. When I accessed Teachable, I had all the necessary creation modules at my disposal, which can be a good and bad thing.
It’s good for seasoned professionals returning to make their second or third online courses. It’s not necessarily helpful for beginner levels.
Both Thinkific and Teachable offer Free and Premium versions.
I honestly did prefer the simplicity of Teachable’s Admin Navigation Panel. It didn’t have fancy words that translated to simple meanings. Everything was straightforward. Thinkific has its way of doing things until you have the Thinkific modus operandi down things may come across as unfamiliar.
Course Tools refers to quizzes, assignments, presentations, etc. I preferred Teachable’s simple approach. Thinkific’s approach falls short in the size of these tools. Thinkific’s quiz tool is a massive section for questions and another massive section for answers.
I preferred Teachable’s smaller and scalable sections that made it easier for me to follow. You could collapse the Thinkific sections, but not everybody could figure that out at first glance.
I may have been running an art school, but I liked Teachable’s code example tool. You can design (even draw) things with code so I didn’t understand why that wasn’t present in Thinkific. On the other hand, Teachable offered that simply and straightforwardly.
Thinkific’s Learning App Store makes it a lot easier to integrate plugins into your site. The concept of an app store makes it easier for course creators to find tools for their sites easily. Other than reading blogs, posts, and Redditor
Teachable’s site builder did not have a learning curve compared to Thinkific. Again, everything was extremely simple and straightforward. However, I do prefer Thinkific’s site builder. The learning curve is annoying at first but the ability to swap between mobile and desktop versions of your site is a welcome bonus.
I wasn’t a fan of Teachable’s Themes. They were “busy” for my taste but that’s a personal preference. I stuck with the first theme Thinkific offered and whatever changes I made appealed to me down the line.
In the end, I have to give it to Thinkific. They do things their way and I liked Thinkific’s way of doing things. It was satisfactory to the needs of the creator and the end result was a really good package for any course. Thinkific does allow you to create a highly successful course.
Thinkific Review: Alternatives
As shared above Teachable is a Thinkific alternative. However, other course creation tools unlike Thinkific and Teachable) exist. You have Skillshare, Udemy, Podia, etc. The list is pretty much endless.
All of these platforms do things differently. You’ll notice that Skillshare is well-known for videos and content leaning on the creative side. On the other hand, platforms like Udemy are famous for having programming or technical courses.
Each platform has its own reputation in certain industries. That doesn’t mean your course can’t be the first black sheep and tap into unknown territory. Thinkific does what it does best and in its own way. You can say the same for the “alternatives”.
I truly believe there’s nothing like Thinkific. It does things its own way.
Thinkific Review: Conclusion
I believe that Thinkific is a cut above the rest regarding online course creation. The people at Thinkific created something different from the competition, and it shows. They do things differently at Thinkific, and if you want something professional that will translate to your online course, I highly recommend Thinkific.
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