When I was initially looking to set up my own LMS about a year ago, I looked at Lamaste! LMS and promptly dismissed it because it did not at the time support the three-tier course/module/lesson structure I wanted and I was also concerned about using a shortcodes-based approach, as I am very much a visual creator, using Elementor exclusively.
Over a year later and I have worked my way through the premier LMS plugins available, swallowing all the commercial hype they can muster, only to find huge feature gaps in the functionality of even the most expensive plugs, or the need for additional expensive add-ons with large recurring licence costs just to do what should have existed in the core offering. The frustration of constantly fighting against fixed designs and conflicting plugins forced me to eventually abandon developing my own LMS.
Now wiser and more experienced in building an LMS, the impact of COVID-19 has forced me to reconsider my own LMS needs once again and I returned to Namaste! to become reacquainted.
Its overly simple appearance disguises an LMS of real power and flexibility. It now has the three-tier structure I wanted and a host of other features I perhaps had not properly appreciated first time around. I surprised myself by being able to build, in just four weeks, the LMS I struggled with for many months previously with other plugins. The few feature gaps I had were quickly filled by adding the inexpensive (one-time payment!) Pro version and Namaste! Reports. I opted for the bundle price to include Namaste! Connect (although I’ve yet to use it) and the Namaste! Theme, although quickly rejected the theme once I had a look and went back to my own design as it did not give me the flexibility I wanted.
As to support, I have used it little so far but have been impressed. I raised a query about a plugin I needed and received a reply two days later – along with the new plugin! Ok, it was perhaps not that complex a request but the fact that I was listened to and received a positive response so quickly speaks volumes for the owner / developer, especially considering this was when I still had only the free version.
It is not perfect. The three-tier course/module/lesson structure is not yet fully integrated and there are still some gaps in features. The fixed designs of some of the shortcode-generated tables sorely need some attention and there is almost no control over Namaste-generated user messages or display labels. That being said, these are mainly cosmetic and don’t detract from the overall quality of the plugin. I have had no technical reliability issues (apart from one small error message on a shortcode that perhaps should not be used outside of secured pages) and I have had no plugin conflicts. The shortcodes work perfectly for me in Elementor, displaying results even in edit-mode. I have also added additional custom post fields using the ACF plugin and these have displayed and worked perfectly within Lamaste! posts.
Conclusion: Lamaste! is not for everybody. To get the best from it you have to be comfortable building your own templates-based LMS. You could of course buy their theme and that would work for some, but being able to get it to work with any theme or set of templates is where it really shines and there is some reasonably good support documentation. My advice: take your time getting to know how it all hangs together. Study the documentation, play with the shortcodes on pages and posts, test everything and, when you’re comfortable, clear it down and then formally start building your site. Properly design your site structure and relationships on paper before you get too heavily into it: it’s a lot easier to get it right before you start than it is to roll back because you haven’t thought it through fully.
Namaste! includes a PayPal payments method but I have yet to build a proper membership layer and payments gateway, being undecided about how I want to do this. I have my favourite membership plugins used for other purposes so I might see how they work, but I will also give Konnichiwa a try as it seems to be more closely tied to Lamaste!
These opinions are my own, based on my experience. Yours may be different but it’s a free plugin so definitely worth taking the time to properly explore. But, as with all plugins, they’re just tools. They cannot compensate for poor planning or deign so put the time in to making it work best for you.