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Choosing the best eLearning development software can help instructional designers create more effective courses and can also play a factor in some of the best practices for eLearning development. By using the optimal eLearning development tools, course designers can start the design process in the best possible position.

The Top 5 Popular eLearning Development Tools and Software

There are a wide variety of eLearning development tools on the market. Some are more general course development tools while others specialize as online course development tools. Here are five of the best eLearning development software instructional designers use to craft online courses.

Lectora Inspire by Trivantis

Lectora Inspire by Trivantis is a collection of eLearning development software that markets itself as a mobile learning game-changer and touts the motto “design once, distribute everywhere.” Lectora Inspire is one of the oldest authoring tools and updates are released regularly to keep the suite fully loaded with features. Lectora Inspire offers templates from eLearning Brothers for beginners, boasts a large selection of stock images, and features Snagit and Camtasia integration. The suite allows course designers to create adaptable courses that work across different platforms with ease due to Lectora’s ability to publish in HTML5.

While the Lectora Inspire is impressive, it has some drawbacks. Online reviews cite an unintuitive interface and underwhelming customer support making Lectora Inspire unwelcoming to beginners. The suite is limited in terms of technical simulations and audio capabilities as well. At a price of roughly $2,400, Lectora Inspire is on the expensive side when compared to other eLearning development tools of similar quality. However, you can buy a more limited online-only version for $159 a month that is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Adobe Captivate 9

The latest version of Adobe’s Captivate series is version 9 and it is one of the most solicited course development tools. It offers the ability to make high-quality courses, training videos, and assessments through numerous built-in features. Features such as quiz templates, project templates, adaptable animations, previews for different devices, a library of visual assets, virtual reality capability, and more help set Adobe Captivate 9 apart from other eLearning development software. Adobe Captivate 9 publishes courses in HTML5 which makes created courses readily available across numerous platforms. Captivate 9 is also cheaper than comparable eLearning development tools with the option of buying the program outright at $1,229 or renting it for $29.99 a month with a minimum contract of one year. If a developer wants to test Captivate 9, there is a free 30-day trial.

Adobe Captivate 9 boasts many features, but there are some drawbacks. Anyone who has previously used Adobe software will be familiar with Captivate 9’s GUI, but anyone new to Adobe software will face a steep learning curve. The steep learning curve makes Captivate 9 hard to pick up and use with many designers finding they must master a feature before they can add it to a course. Captivate 9 also takes up a lot of room on computers with many users complaining about the huge number of files that must be cleared from the cache daily.

iSpring Suite 8.1

iSpring Suite 8.1’s acts as a PowerPoint add-in that turns PowerPoint presentations into multimedia digital courses. Interactive courses with audio and video narration, assessments with 11 question types, and animations are easy to create and publish across any SCORM compatible LMS or Tin Can API enabled LRS or standard HTML website. iSpring Suite 8.1 is one of the best eLearning development software for people with little experience as it is one of the easiest online course development tools to learn relatively quickly. iSpring Suite 8.1 is also relatively inexpensive with a single-use license costing $697. All licenses come with a 30-day money-back guarantee and free tech support during business hours in Europe and the United States.

Sadly, iSpring Suite 8.1 is only available for Windows and lacks compatibility options many users have come to expect. Due to the nature of the program being tied to PowerPoint, iSpring Suite 8.1 does not have the capability to create courses as interactive or complex as some of the other authoring tools on this list.


Elucidat is a cloud-based eLearning development software that offers a library of templates and assets to speed up development which lets even novice designers create high-quality courses through drag and drop editing. Elucidat offers the ability to create themes through HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for designers that don’t wish to use the included themes. Created courses can be published in numerous languages and versions as Elucidat lets users manage hundreds of courses at once. There is a free 14-day trial, which designers should take advantage of before committing to the very expensive full version.

Elucidat’s purpose is to create and manage several scalable courses which is why this program is incredibly expensive. Prices are not publicly listed and interested customers must contact Elucidat to receive more information. If a user isn’t striving to make several courses, Elucidat may not be the ideal eLearning development software. Elucidat is also missing some integrations such as the ability to record screen captures.

Articulate Storyline

Articulate Storyline is one of the most popular eLearning development tools on the market by far and most designers will have some experience with the program. It has a PowerPoint aesthetic that makes Articulate Storyline straight forward to learn, but some training time is required to maximize the power of the program. Objects can be hidden, variables can be tweaked, and media can be paused/played without requiring custom code as authoring actions are contained in the selection interface. Articulate Storyline also has a large online community that allows users to help each other. There is a 30-day free trial of Articulate Storyline and the newest version, Articulate Storyline 3, is $1,398 for a new license. However, there is a subscription service called Articulate 360, which is a collection of many authoring tools, for $999 annually.

Articulate Storyline doesn’t feature true responsive design, meaning courses are simply shrunken to fit mobile screens instead of properly scaled. Articulate Storyline is not continuously updated, meaning designers will be forced to buy a new version to receive new features or quality of life improvements faster.

In Conclusion

Creating an online course is no simple task but having the right course development tools for the job makes it easier. There are various eLearning development tools and software available, but the key is finding the best eLearning development software to fit a designer’s specific needs. Each of the five tools detailed above excel in some areas and fall short in others. The instructional designers at SkillSource offer their expertise in multiple authoring tools, including the ones above, and can teach you how to use authorship tools to create your next course.

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