Like with anything else, most people aren’t sure what to expect when they go out searching for quotes in regard to eLearning development. They might have a roundabout number in mind, but even then, they have no idea what factors influence that price.

In today’s post, we’re going to look at the three main areas that influence the cost of an eLearning course.

External Resources

The first category relates to how many people need to be involved in the eLearning course to help bring it to life. Depending on the scope of the course, there may need to be a small crew involved in bringing different elements together, such as video, photography, content, design, and more.

When a Subject Matter Expert needs to be brought in for course development, this often means a higher price tag. You may need a SME if:

The subject matter is highly specific

There are no existing materials for the coursework

There isn’t any outlined structure for the course

However, you can expect lower costs and a shorter timeline if:

You already have material ready for eLearning with clear goals for the course

Subject matter is fairly simple

There are clear plans for storyboarding with ready-to-go audio and video

The more prepared you are for your eLearning course, the less development time it will require (and therefore, less cost.) But be careful here: There is a lot more to instructional design than just writing about your content. For courses to be effective, they need to adhere to many different educational considerations. Not everyone has this expertise, so make sure you do before trying to write the storyboards in-house. If you have the skills internally you can save money, but if not, you can actually make the cost of a good end product go up.

Course content

Next, you need to consider how complex or simple your design needs are for the course. Are you using stock images and in-house videos, or will all of these elements need to be designed and assembled for the first time? You’ll also want to factor other content needs such as:


Narration or audio recording

Animated or custom-made videos

Think about this category in terms of volume and complexity. The more needs you have, the higher the cost of your eLearning course. Not everyone has an in-house team who can help bring these elements to life, so working with an outside expert can be a great solution (that also takes the stress off your own team.)

Interactive Features

How engaging does your course need to be? Think about the material your course will be teaching, and ask yourself—is this complex or simple content?

Simple courses with limited interactive features, text presentation, and linear content is far easier to produce than those that involve hands-on experiences, branched scenarios, assessments, and training aspects.

For example: If your course is just training employees about new policies, you are probably just passing along information. However, if you were training employees to use a new software (like Salesforce, for example), you’d want a much higher level of interactivity.

The eLearning Course Cost

Will your eLearning course cost go up as you seek more complex, custom-made features? Yes. But, overall, eLearning may save you time and resources because of its flexibility in the long run. Don’t skimp on the features that can truly help your team be better at their jobs.

This whole process can be a balancing act. You don’t want to blow your budget if all you want is “check the box” training. However, real learner engagement and course effectiveness takes time, and thus, money. Identify where your priorities are and invest in those that will benefit the most from a more interactive experience.