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How much does it cost to build a platform like Udemy?

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Posted: March 27, 2019 at 9:16 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Education has evolved to become a business niche these days. With never-ending demand for online courses, the scope for new online learning and teaching platforms is witnessing an exponential scaling.

Not just the certificate courses, but also the MOOCs have become extremely popular among the students. Consequently, learners from all class and levels are enrolling to online courses with an array of intentions:

  • Companies say they have seen a 42% growth in revenue generation after adopting corporate eLearning.
  • E-learning as an independent industry has grown by over 900% since the year 2000.
  • More than 6 million students in the US have already enrolled in online course classes.
  • 73% of students enroll for online courses to get new a job and employment. It mainly includes 35% of students intending to change their current job and shift to a new career field.
  • Out of which, 30% of students are from regular degree and certifications programs who want to strengthen their standing in the current job. (Source)

What’s the reason for presenting these stats?

The only bottom line behind all these numbers is the scope of eLearning as a business niche, and how it is profitable to launch one of your own.

There will be a never-ending scope of learning, and a similar scope for capitalizing on it will follow each time. E-learning websites like Udemy, Khan Academy, and Coursera with their highly valuable content, innovative aspects, and updated e-learning courses have become a prominent source of online courses.

If you are trying to know how to create an e-Learning website similar to Udemy, this article will help you out with an array of information such as – how much does it cost to create a website? How long an e-learning website development does take? Let’s just start from the basics.

About Udemy and how Udemy works

Udemy is an e-learning marketplace for online courses. It allows professional tutors to create an account and sell their online courses through it. With a dedicated tutor dashboard, and you can create and sell online courses, which are visible to millions of students who come to the website seeking new skills to learn from a wide range of multi-lingual library of the same. It provides potential and competitive courses in all domain from a central platform.

Many companies of all sizes choose Udemy for corporate learning from its top-rated courses. It provides an engaging online learning platform accessing business relevant content instantly from industry and subject matter experts. Thus, it has created an opportunity for learning more without attending physical classrooms or leaving the job to complete a vocational course.

You can enroll in the courses that you find best and learn at your own pace in a 24×7 environment. The online courses can be accessed from different devices and platforms like desktop, laptop, Android app, iOS app etc.

It earns by charging a commission cut from the sales made by tutors on the platform. The commission percentage is decided by the admin who can set the same or different rates on all tutors or category of courses. Consequently, this commission-based channel in the primary revenue source for the platform. So, how much does it cost to create a website like Udemy?

Factors that influence the overall development cost

It depends on multiple verticals that include requirements, platform support, time-frame, and the chosen tech-stack to build the website. Moreover, it is also not an easy task to get all the required features and tech-stack in the initial stage of eLearning website development. As the development advances, you would come across various other requirements, which would demand an additional investment as compared to what you started with. For starters, my cost evaluation would include only a few essential functionalities that are minimalistic to a basic eLearning marketplace like Udemy. So, let’s just have a look at the features that could impact the cost of our e-learning website:

1. Content and element implications

The amount of content, the design of content, and mode of content creation will have many implications on the overall cost to create an e-learning website.

The cost would be comparatively lesser if you just add a few texts and images. However, if you intend at publishing HD videos, animations videos, and add customized features for more engaging user experience, the cost will advance significantly. You will need buying APIs for video streaming engines and subscribe to CDNs for seamless and scalable video streaming experience.

Interactive website helps in more user engagement. The users will search the course content with categories and subcategories, depending upon the author, language. Therefore, browsing and sorting the course features must be efficient and effective. Implementing an advanced search filter will also have a significant impact on cost estimation.

To come to the UI design for accommodating the above requirements, the project goes through a comprehensive pre-development survey, specification documentation, and prototype design. This whole process takes about three weeks for a team of at least 5-7 members. This would be approximately a work of 100 hours. The cost outcome would vary for different development companies and services.

2. Instructional design and aspects of interactivity

After preparing the layout of the content elements, and defining the required specifications, the final design of the online platform will be an outcome of target audience research and feasibility tests. The dimension of interactivity and the target audience can be achieved by defining the learning objectives. It will help developers amplifying the instructional goals and accomplishments in your website such as videos, live conferencing, PowerPoint slides, Animation, Gifs etc.

This phase will lay a groundwork or actual UI for the fundamental and advanced features you would want to integrate into your site. The freelance instructional designers will charge on an hourly basis. It would take approx. 80 hours of work to deliver a finished design. A freelance instructional designer would charge $50- $150 every hour.

3. Application development cost and timeframe

The developers spend a lot of time developing and designing the website and application. They usually make certain changes and doing frequent updates for better refining and fine-tuning of the website. However, if the whole process gets delayed, it would make an impact on the overall cost estimation. So formulating a preplan for better platform compatibility and feasibility is essential.

Besides development, the cost of server and web hosting also need an additional amount. This phase also handles the requirements to develop a responsive website, which gives the ability to access the course on all devices and browsers. It would not only improve the mobile engagement but would also save some extra cost, time and resources wasted in developing separate mobile sites.

The cost estimation of this phase would actively include the optional investments in mobile apps for Android and iOS. However, keeping it aside, the overall cost for a responsive website development can be calculated with hourly compensations given for at least 500 hours of coding. You can guess the cost by the fact a developer would charge at least $100-150 per hour.

4. Additional resource and cost allocation

It is a crucial thing to control your resources and complete utilization because the final delivery completely depends on these areas. The e-learning videos can be modified and used for a different learning project. Thus, the allocation of cost minimized from designing to final delivery.

Like we minimized the extra cost of development for mobile sites using responsive architecture, we can adopt similar minifications in other areas too. The major cost would include in recurring subscriptions taken for integrating advanced features through APIs.

For example, there will be an additional cost to buy APIs for authoring tools, interactive whiteboards, and video streaming engines. If you don’t have the specific resources to handle the multiple phases of development, you can outsource it.

What are the different options for development?

Thanks to the recent development in web development technologies, it has become so easy to develop eLearning websites with supporting tech. Besides the coding from scratch, you have got a number of other ways to build your own Udemy.

Option 1: If you want to code it from Raw/Scratch

This approach suits best to the Ed-tech entrepreneurs for launching large-scale websites and monetizing them. They can afford to hire an in-house team and compensate them accordingly. The in-house team of experts can research, test, design, develop, and maintain the website.

Alternatively, you can also outsource the whole project to a development company, which will employ its resources to do the same. Be it any of the approaches, the development team will need being aware of the following tech considerations:

Expertise on one or all of the following tech stacks for development:

  • LAMP
  • Python-Django
  • MEAN
  • MERN

Depending on the stack, you will need a development framework. The framework provides feasibility for easy addition of new features in the future or modifying the website without breaking the existing codes. It’s a standard that every developer follows. It provides flexibility, scalability and highest customizability for the whole website.


  • Since the whole site is coded by your own team, time and cost need to go into the investments done as a salary of your team.
  • If you are outsourcing, the cost will be considerably cheaper. You can calculate from the aspects discussed in the previous section.
  • The cost of regular maintenance will be less if you outsource developers.

Option 2: Without coding- Closed Source SaaS solutions

The SaaS or PaaS based eLearning websites builders provide readymade solutions where you can simply use a GUI to create your own website.

You don’t need to handle the coding as SaaS vendors would already do it for you. You can simply buy a SaaS-based eLearning website builder and setup your site. The hosting is also provided and managed by the SaaS vendor. The e-learning platform will readily have most of the features. However, there is a limitation. You cannot add or remove a particular feature on your own.

Most of the time these SaaS solutions are standalone LMS with could sharing capabilities. They are not a website as a whole. You might have to add some additional APIs to add more features, which bring your platform closer to websites like Udemy.

Example: Weebly, Proprofs, TalentLMS, iSpring, Udutu LMS etc.


The software vendors will charge monthly subscription costs for letting you use their ready-made eLearning platform. So the cost would come as a monthly recurring payment for as long as your site is active.

For example, Weebly offers the plans starting from $12/month and goes all the way to $25 and custom pricing based on requirements. So for a basic website on Weebly, you would be paying $300/year. This doesn’t include the additional cost of LMS, advanced authoring tools, video streaming APIs, and interactive whiteboard which would result in approx. $1000/year if included.

Option 3: Self-hosted scripts: Available readily as Open-Source code

These are the most flexible and easiest options to create an e-learning site at a reasonable rate. The user can get the ready to launch websites without possessing any coding skills by the help of a custom self-hosted script.

They come ready-made with inbuilt features. More importantly, they are standalone websites. Depending on the vendor, you might also get integrated authoring tools, LMS platforms, payment gateways, and analytic tools etc.

Nowadays, these are the popular options to go live with your eLearning platform in a few days with all the features readily available. These sites offer ready to use eLearning themes, student management system, media, and text uploaders, membership revenue models, etc. as a functionality. As they are open source code, you can edit the source code to customize your site, add new features, or remove any unused feature as well.

Such solutions are available in the market as Udemy clone scripts. You can get these scripts from any third-party eLearning solutions vendor such as Pinlearn and Agriya. These vendors also offer outsourcing, where you can hire them to customize your script, set up your site, host it on a web-server, and take care of the maintenance for you.


  • These are considered as ready to launch generic websites, therefore the cost is quite affordable.
  • As there is no coding involved for you, you can get it at a reasonable cost. Only a one-time cost is required to buy the script.
  • Many vendors provide additional features and customization services with extra cost if you need personalization of the site.

For example, PinLearn offers its Udemy clone script from starting one-time price of $699 and goes all the way to $1499 if you also want to buy mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Words to Conclude

Hence, you can define the final developmental cost and timeframe, after analyzing the size of the project and the different types of features you would want to add in your website. Start, analyzing your business model, do the competition research, comprehend the features you would need, try out different solutions in the market. Ultimately, you would be able to derive the final cost more strategically. Hope this article gave you an overview of the cost and how to create eLearning website by choosing a perfect way to build your e-learning platform or a website like Udemy.
This article was written by Kathy Alameda, content strategist at PinLearn. She develops educational technology plans and online learning strategies for schools, businesses, universities in the USA & Other country. She is also an author and researcher on effective e-learning programs.

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