Website and course: together or apart?

~ 4 min read | Category: Newsletters

Back in 1982, when I was just 10, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder hit the charts with Ebony and Ivory, a musical invitation for people of different colours to live together in perfect harmony (like the keys on a piano keyboard.)

The song was massive at the time but it popped into my head recently and I realised that it doesn’t get a lot of airplay nowadays.

Decades after its release, maybe the “can’t we all just get along?” message feels a little too twee for the mainstream.

(Or maybe I’m not listening to the right radio stations.)

But I thought I’d revive it today as a launching point for a discussion about two other things that ought to, but don’t always, live together in harmony:

Your website and your online course.

Because you really have three basic options, and none of them is perfect.

Option 1: You keep your website and course platforms separate

This is the most common scenario and it’s a solid option because the needs of a typical website are different to the needs of a typical course.

An example would be where your website is on WordPress and your course is on Thinkific.

They’re totally separate entities and they live at different URLs, such as [website] and or [course].

The main drawback is that your course isn’t fully integrated within the brand and structure of your website.

Yes, you can try to match the branding of your main website on the course platform but it almost never looks quite right.

On the plus side you can choose the course platform that suits you best without worrying about how it integrates with your site.

Option 2: You add your course to your website platform

This is where you host your course in the same place you host your website.

For instance, if your website is on WordPress you can add a plugin like LearnDash to provide the course features you need.

This creates a nicely integrated experience with everything under one URL and provides a consistent design experience.

But on the downside you just made your website infrastructure more complex…

You have extra software to learn and maintain. And if you screw something up when configuring your course, it could affect your website too.

WordPress isn’t the only website platform that supports courses by the way. SquareSpace recently added a course feature too.

Option 3: You add your website to your course platform

Some “all-in-one” course platforms like Kajabi and Podia let you create your main website alongside your digital products.

So they have a built-in page builder that lets you create a home page, an about page, and so on.

On the plus side you get that whole “unified” look across your website and courses, all accessible from a single URL, and you only have to learn one piece of software.

But on the downside, you’re more restricted on the design front. It’s harder to create a website on those platforms that don’t look a lot like other websites on those platforms.

Also, you’re also putting a lot of your eggs in one basket. If the platform goes down, you lose your courses AND your website until it’s restored.

So which is right for you?

If you’re on the fence, here are some simple guidelines that might help…

If you’re comfortable with your current website platform, start by exploring the course features you can add to that platform.

If they turn out to be inadequate for your needs (or you just prefer to keep things separate) then use a platform like Thinkific or Teachable for your course.

However, if you don’t have a website OR a course site right now, consider putting both on one platform like Kajabi or Podia, particularly if your website needs are simple.

There’s no right or wrong answer and you can always change your mind later, but it helps to understand the options and trade-offs.

See you soon,


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